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Master Carpenter Certification: Information and Requirements

'Master carpenter' is not a recognized title in the United States, so there are no certificate programs offered. 'Journey carpenter' is the highest title in the field, and individuals can achieve this designation by completing an apprenticeship.

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Essential Information

There are no master carpenter certification programs in the United States, but apprenticeship programs that confer journeyman status are common. They may be offered by community colleges, technical schools, contractor organizations or unions. Depending on the program, they can take anywhere from two to four years to complete, and they involve both classroom studies and real-world training.

Applicants to these programs must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. They also need to be in good physical health, given the strenuous labor involved in carpentry, and they must pass a substance abuse screening and submit proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency. Some programs require prospective students to have a minimum high school GPA of 2.0 and have taken at least one year of high school algebra. Other recommended high school courses include mechanical drawing, CAD, geometry, trigonometry and CPR/First Aid. Veterans may be given admissions preference.


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Carpentry Apprenticeship

During carpentry apprenticeships, students are usually required to complete a minimum of 144 hours of classroom training per year and 2000 hours of paid on-site training per year. They must also pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10- and 30-hour safety courses. Apprentices are usually paid about half of the hourly wage of a journeyman, which was around $22 per hour in 2016.

Over the course of the apprenticeship, the student works under the tutelage of an experienced journeyman who introduces them to the tools and methods of the trade. Common areas of study include:

  • Blueprint reading
  • Mathematics for carpentry
  • Building code requirements
  • Safety practices and first aid
  • Rigging
  • Welding
  • Scaffold building

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The BLS expects the employment of carpenters to rise at a rate of 6% from 2014-2024, which is as fast as the average expected rate for all fields. There is an expectation that population growth and demand for remodeling will stimulate the need for carpenters; however, the increased use of prefabricated elements and components will offset some of this growth. The median annual salary of a carpenter in May 2015 was $42,090.

Continuing Education

Students who complete programs offered by community colleges and technical schools may be able to apply some of their credits toward associate's degree programs in related subjects such as construction trades. These programs build on the coursework required in the apprenticeship program and also include general education classes.

Another option is to earn a professional certification, such as the Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) designation, which is offered by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). To qualify, candidates must have at least five years of remodeling industry experience, pass a half-day written examination, complete an application and submit a fee. NARI offers online preparation programs for applicants who are preparing to take the test.

Aspiring carpenters can attain journeyman status by completing an apprenticeship in the field. After finishing a program and working for several years, carpenters may apply for certifications from professional organizations in order to demonstrate their skills and expertise to potential employers and clients.

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