Carpentry Training and Program Overview
Carpenters work on several kinds of construction projects. They may help remodel existing structures or work on new residential homes and commercial properties. Carpenters also work on highways, bridges and other infrastructure. Aspiring carpenters can receive training in two ways: by completing a formal apprenticeship program or by taking a certificate program at a vocational school or community college. Certification is not typically required of carpenters, but professionals who wish to work as general contractors or in a specific field may need to receive licensure.
Certification and Licensure Options
Although certification isn't required for general carpentry work, individuals may seek certification in green building and sustainability technology, as well as other specialties, like scaffolding. Programs are available that prepare students to sit for the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Green Associate exam.
In most states, carpenters must be licensed when they perform certain activities, such as the demolition of an existing structure. They must also be licensed if they are performing the duties of a general contractor. Some states require a license for carpenters who are remodeling existing property.
Certificate Program Format
During a general carpentry certificate program, students learn how to interpret blueprints, identify structural components, estimate the cost of labor and materials, frame structures, apply roofing and install dry wall. They also learn to apply siding and work with aluminum to finish exterior trim.
A carpentry finish certificate program teaches finish work in new structures or existing real estate. Students learn to install new and replacement windows, build and set doorframes, finish interior walls and ceilings, lay out and build landings and stairs, and install building skirts. They prepare construction projects that comply with local building codes. These skills are also learned in an apprenticeship program.
Pre-apprenticeship programs for carpenters take about 5 years (5200 hours worth of training) to complete and introduce an aspiring carpenter to the tools of the trade, blueprint reading and construction methods. Apprenticeship programs are provided by many states' Departments of Labor or other governmental agencies.
Apprentices serve with sponsors of the apprenticeship program, including trade unions and commercial contractors; they must work under the supervision of a licensed carpenter or contractor for a period of approximately four years. During this time, students typically receive a set percentage of a journeyman's wages in payment. Students must also complete a required amount of classroom study to properly complete the apprenticeship.
Employment opportunities for carpenters were expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which was much faster than average. Housing needs and an increase in road and bridge repair were expected to influence growth, which can also vary by geographical location and government funding. Carpenters with advanced skills and the ability to speak Spanish can expect to find more job opportunities, according to the BLS.