Master Carpenter Certification: Information and Requirements

Students seeking to formally advance their carpentry skills can take official apprenticeships through colleges and organizations or participate in unofficial apprenticeships by working for a journey-person carpenter. The easiest way to become an official journey-person (the highest rank of a carpenter) is to graduate from a program that has been approved by the state or the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program.

Essential Information

There are many basic certificates or diplomas, with regard to master carpenter certification, ranging from apprenticeships to specialized certificates in framing or construction. Requirements vary, with completion times ranging between one and four years. The amount of hands-on experience varies as well. Although these programs may give students the same skills, not all of them are official apprenticeships. Students should check to see if the school has been approved by the state or government.

  • Prerequisites: Although it is not required, students should take shop and advanced math classes in high school to be prepared for working with blueprints. The amount of work experience again depends on the program; some schools require 1-2 semesters of experience, while others require much more.
  • Program Length: These carpentry apprenticeship programs can take anywhere from 1-4 years for students to complete.
  • Other Requirements: The ability to speak Spanish is also an advantage since many workers in the field speak Spanish, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

Certification in Master Carpentry

The courses that are typically offered in master carpenter certification are introductions to most of the materials and skills used on the job, like concrete, cabinet making, estimating and construction law. Regardless of the program, students will usually take courses in the following:

  • Framing and construction
  • Foundations and concrete
  • Safety and first aid at work
  • Architectural drafting
  • Reading blueprints

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The BLS expects the employment of carpenters to rise at a rate of 6% from 2014-2024, which is faster than 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 2014 was $40,820.

Continuing Education

There are no required courses or programs carpenters need to take in order to maintain their journey-person status. Some professionals choose to pursue additional training in areas like scaffold building or pump work to increase their employment opportunities and gain a more well-rounded background.

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