In carpenter schools, certificate programs usually take 1-2 semesters to complete, while associate degree programs usually take about two years. In order to enroll, students merely need a high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the program, students can focus on an area of carpentry, such as framing, interior or exterior finishing, and concrete foundations.
It's important to note that most prospective carpenters enroll in carpentry apprenticeships, which are sometimes offered in tandem with certificate or associate programs. These apprenticeship opportunities give students an opportunity to perform hands-on shop work.
Certificate Programs in Carpentry
Students in 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, and estimating materials. These 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. Graduates are prepared to work on commercial and residential construction projects. Other course topics may include:
- Woodworking calculations
- Blueprint reading
- Concrete construction
- Finishing techniques
- Stair construction
- Construction computer programs
Associate Degree Programs in Carpentry
These programs cover every phase of a construction project. They 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. Course topics are similar to those found in a certificate program. However, programs also include general education courses in composition, computers and mathematics. Other topics of study may include:
- First aid
- Rafter assembly
- Cabinet building
- Construction management
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:
- Weatherization specialist
- Carpentry assistant
- Drywall applicator
- Finishing carpenter
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 945,400 carpenters were employed in 2014 (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities for these construction professionals were projected to grow 6% from 2014-2024. 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 $46,780 as of May 2015.
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.
Completing a certificate or associate degree in carpentry can be a stepping stone to a career as a carpenter, a job field projected to grow by 6% over the next decade. Carpenters can advance their career even further by completing apprenticeship programs offered via local unions or builders.