Carpenter School and College Program 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.

Essential Information

In carpenter schools, 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.

  • Program Levels in Carpentry: Certificate programs, Associate's degrees
  • Some Program Specializations: Interior or Exterior Finishing, Framing and Concrete Foundations
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Program Length: 1-2 semesters (certificate), 2 years (associate's)
  • Experiential Learning: Hands-on shop work, apprenticeship opportunities

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. Some programs even offer specialized certificates in areas such as interior or exterior finishing, framing and concrete foundations. 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's Degree Programs in Carpentry

These programs teach about 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
  • Foundations
  • Construction management
  • Welding

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 617,060 carpenters were employed in 2014 (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities for these construction professionals were projected to grow 24% from 2012-2022. 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 $45,590 as of May 2014.

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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