Carpenter: Occupational Outlook & Training Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a carpenter. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

With a high school diploma or GED it is possible to begin pursuing a career as a carpenter. Training mostly entails on-the-job experience through an apprenticeship. This field is projected to have stable job growth of 6% through 2024.

Essential Information

Carpenters work with different types of wood, tools and hardware to build and repair furniture and structures. This career is most suitable for individuals who enjoy working with their hands. There are various routes to obtaining the necessary training to become a carpenter. Individuals can enroll in a college or trade school to earn a diploma, certificate or degree. They can also receive on-the-job training or participate in a formal apprenticeship program. All of these routes provide hands-on instruction in performing common job duties.

Required Education Formal post-secondary program, on-the-job training or apprenticeship
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all carpenters*
Median Salary (2015) $42,090 annually for all carpenters*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Outlook for Carpenters

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth is expected to be 6% for carpenters during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). This growth is due to population increases and demand for home remodeling. Although there will always be a need for carpenters, job prospects are expected to be best for those who are located in areas with large population increases.

Training Requirements for Carpenters

Carpenters can receive both formal and informal training in preparation for a career in this field. Formal training can start as early as high school in the form of drafting and shop classes. After high school, prospective carpenters may continue their formal training in trade schools, vocational schools and community colleges, where they can pursue a technical diploma, certificate or an associate's degree in carpentry. Courses offered may include foundations and forms, framing, cabinetmaking and construction remodeling.

In terms of informal training, prospective carpenters often gain the skills they need by assisting experienced professionals in the field. This on-the-job training may also be paired with formal training to give aspiring carpenters a more well-rounded education.


Classroom training and on-the-job training can also be combined through formal apprenticeship programs in commercial carpentry, residential carpentry, interior work, cabinetry millwork or floor covering offered by unions or commercial contractors, though availability of apprenticeships is limited. Applicants to most apprenticeship programs need to be at least 17-18 years old and may need to take a pre-apprenticeship course. Apprentices are paid and split their time between the classroom and the job site, with about 6,000 hours of practical training over four years, and coursework in basic mathematics, job site safety and blueprint reading. Upon completing an apprenticeship, carpenters earn journey worker status, and some program may confer an associate's degree.

Most carpenters earn between $26,220 and $76,750 annually, with the median salary being $42,090. The states of Alaska, Hawaii and New York paid the highest annual salaries. A carpenter's salary fluctuates significantly based upon location, due to cost of living factors.

Only a high school diploma or GED is required to begin a career as a carpenter; however, students who complete internships, gain on-the-job experience as a carpenter's helper, study drafting and take shop classes will have an advantage when entering this field.

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