Carpenter School and College Program Information

Aspiring carpenters can receive training through certificate and associate degree programs in the field. Decide which option is for you by reading about the curriculum and prerequisites. You can also see examples of job titles, as well as career information like employment projection and possible salary.

Essential Information

Individuals interested in becoming carpenters may choose to enter certificate or associate degree programs. Both programs teach high school graduates the technical skills required for entry-level careers in construction. The technical training occurs in the classroom and in laboratories.

Certificate programs usually take a year or less to complete, while associate degree programs usually take about two years. Depending on the program, students can focus on an area of carpentry, such as framing. It's important to note that most prospective carpenters enroll in carpentry apprenticeships, which are sometimes offered in tandem with certificate or associate programs.

Carpentry Certificate

Students in carpentry certificate programs can learn how to work safely and efficiently on a construction site. They can also practice framing windows and doors, laying out walls and rafters, or estimating materials. Some programs even offer specialized certificates in areas such as interior or exterior finishing, framing and concrete foundations.

Graduates are prepared to work on commercial and residential construction projects. Usually, the only entrance requirement for a these 1-2-semester programs is a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Course Topics

Carpentry programs usually involve some classroom work, but much of the training is hands-on and takes place in a lab or carpentry shop. Students may study carpentry tools, carpentry techniques, construction materials and construction methods. Other topics may include:

  • Woodworking calculations
  • Blueprint reading
  • Concrete construction
  • Finishing techniques
  • Stair construction
  • Construction computer programs
  • Building codes and laws
  • Wall construction

Popular Career Options

Graduates of certificate programs in carpentry may find work with construction firms, contractors or lumber supply companies. They may also enter apprenticeship programs. Sample job titles can include the following:

  • Handyman
  • Weatherization specialist
  • Carpentry assistant
  • Drywall applicator
  • Finishing carpenter

Associate Degree in Carpentry

Students in carpentry associate degree programs learn about every phase of a construction project. These programs often combine course topics found in both general and specialized certificate programs. Additionally, students may learn managerial responsibilities, such as project scheduling, billing calculation and cost estimating. Graduates can enter the job field or apply for apprenticeships. Most programs only require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission.

Course Topics

Course topics for an associate degree program are similar to those found in a certificate program. However, these 2-year degree programs also include general education courses in composition, computers and mathematics. Other topics of study may include:

  • First aid
  • Rafter assembly
  • Cabinet building
  • Moldings
  • Foundations
  • Construction management
  • Welding

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 1.3 billion carpenters were employed in 2008 ( Job opportunities for these construction professionals were projected to grow 13% from 2008-2018. This growth was attributed to an increasing demand for remodeling services. The need for new or more environmentally friendly structures was also expected to drive demand. The mean annual salary for carpenters was $43,890 as of May 2010.

Continuing Education Information

Individuals interested in continuing their education can enter apprenticeship programs offered through local unions or employers, according to the BLS. Graduates of these on-the-job training programs may earn certification as journeypersons. However, this credential is not required for employment.

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