Carpenter Salary

Earnings for a carpenter may differ depending on the kind of construction and location. Since jobs are temp jobs, a majority of carpenters work by the hour. The median wage was $18.72 an hour in May 2008, but can be anywhere from $14.42 to $25.37. The highest paid carpenters make more than $33.34 an hour. Carpenters in non-residential building construction make the most. Wages can be altered by recessions and inclement weather. Additional wages can be earned by working overtime during particularly busy periods.*

*According to the BLS,

Around 19 percent of carpenters are members of unions like the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and are protected by union contracts, better than the average number for all careers.

Job Description and Outlook

Carpenters repair, install, construct, and erect fixtures and structures constructed from wood and other materials. Carpenters work in several different types of construction, from the installation of kitchen cabinets to the building of highways.

Every carpentry job differs, but several deal with the same fundamental steps. Working from orders from supervisors or blueprints, marking, measuring, and arranging materials, all within the standards of local building codes. Carpenters shape and cut wood, fiberglass, plastic, or drywall using power and hand tools like saws, chisels, sanders, and planes. Then they fuse the materials with staples, adhesives, screws, or nails. With the final step, carpenters perform a final sweep to ensure the accuracy of their work with plumb bobs, surveying equipment, levels, rules, and framing squares, and also make any needed modifications.

Carpenters might specialize in a few carpentry jobs, or they might do a variety. Carpenters who remodel homes and other kinds of buildings and structures should be able to carry out a wide range of carpentry skills. As part of one job, they may frame partitions and walls, install windows and doors, put in molding and cabinets, and construct stairs. Well-versed carpenters can deftly switch from commercial construction to residential building or remodeling.

The job outlook for the construction industry in general is average. Population growth with cause the need for new and improved roads and highways and houses to grow. Job outlook is optimal for those with the largest arsenal of skills and training.*

*According to the BLS,

The job opportunities for carpenters is also dependent on geographic area. The activity of construction goes hand in hand with the flow of business and people and parallels with differences in local economic conditions. The areas with the biggest increase in population will also offer the most favorable job opportunities as carpenters and apprenticeships for people looking to become carpenters.

Training and Education Requirements

Learning how to be a carpenter can start as early as high school. Classes in blueprint reading, English, general shop, physics, algebra, mechanical drawing, and geometry will give students the preparation for further training.

There are several ways to receive the necessary training after high school. Aspiring carpenters get jobs as a carpenter’s helper, helping more workers with more experience. While doing this the helper might attend a community college, vocational or trade school to obtain more trade-related training.

A number of employers have formal apprenticeships for employees. Such programs have classroom instruction with on-the-job training. Apprentices have to be 18 years old or older and meet local requirements. These kinds of programs last 3 to 4 years, but recent regulations may require that apprentices finish programs faster as understanding and competencies are demonstrated.

Apprentices learn fundamental structure design on the job and familiarize themselves with basic carpentry jobs, like rough framing, form building, layout, as well as inside and outside finishing. In addition to this, they also learn how to utilize the tools, equipment, machines, and materials or the trade. Apprentices also learn blueprint reading, first aid, safety, basic mathematics, freehand sketching, and other carpentry techniques. They are also instructed on the job and in the classroom on the relationship between other building trades and carpentry

Carpenters have to have excellent eye-hand coordination, and hands-on skills as well as good balance. They should also have the ability to pick up new processes and tools swiftly, physical fitness, and good math skills.


When successfully finishing an apprenticeship program, carpenters are awarded with certification as journeypersons. There are other certifications for building terminology, furniture design, scaffold building, and cabinet making. Several of these certifications call for classroom instruction, although with some certifications carpenters are allowed to take the exam online and skip the classroom section. Even though certifications are usually not necessary to get a job as a carpenter, they are extremely useful to employers and are proof that carpenters are able to carry out these tasks. Certification usually leads to both better pay and better job opportunities.

Professional Associations

Around 19 percent of carpenters are in a union. Being a member of a union means higher wages for carpenters, vacation pay, health benefits and education and training opportunities. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America is currently the largest building trades union in the US. They focus on training and recruiting new members who are focused and committed to the idea of productivity and safety.

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