Training and Program Overview
While licensure is not required for carpenters, you may find that your employment possibilities are somewhat limited without certification or licensure. There are a number of paths that you can take to earn a carpenter's credential. Carpenters work on several kinds of construction projects. They may help remodel existing structures or work on new residential homes and commercial properties. Carpenters also work on highways, bridges, and other infrastructure. Aspiring carpenters can receive training in two ways: by completing a formal apprenticeship program or by taking a certificate program at a vocational school or community college. Certification is not typically required for carpenters, but professionals who wish to work as general contractors or in a specific field may need to receive licensure.
Certification and Licensure Options
Although certification isn't required for general carpentry work, individuals may seek certification in green building and sustainability technology, as well as other specialties, like scaffolding. Programs are available that prepare students to sit for the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Green Associate exam.
In most states, carpenters must be licensed when they perform certain activities, such as the demolition of an existing structure. They must also be licensed if they are performing the duties of a general contractor. Some states require a license for carpenters who are remodeling existing property.
Certificate Program Format
During a general carpentry certificate program, students learn about the following:
- Blueprint interpretation
- Identification of structural components.
- Cost estimation of labor and materials
- Frame structures
- Roofing application
- Drywall installation
- Siding application
- Exterior trim
A carpentry finish certificate program teaches finish work in new structures or existing real estate. Subjects covered include
- Installation of new and replacement windows
- Building and setting doorframes
- Finishing interior walls and ceilings
- Laying out and building landings and stairs
- Installing building skirts
Students prepare construction projects that comply with local building codes. These skills are also learned in an apprenticeship program.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Building Inspection
- Concrete Finishing
- Construction Mgmt, General
- Construction Site Management
- Drywall Installation
- Electrical and Power Transmission Installers
- Electrical Systems Lineworker
- Facilities Management
- Furniture Making
- Home Equipment and Furnishings Installer
- Home Improvement
- House Painting and Wall Paper
- Metal Building Assembly
- Plumbing Technology
- Property Management and Maintenance
- Well Drilling
Pre-apprenticeship programs for carpenters take about five years (5,200 hours worth of training) to complete and introduce an aspiring carpenter to the tools of the trade, blueprint reading, and construction methods. Apprenticeship programs are provided by many states' departments of labor or other governmental agencies.
Apprentices serve with sponsors of the apprenticeship program, including trade unions and commercial contractors. They must work under the supervision of a licensed carpenter or contractor for a period of approximately three or four years. During this time, students typically receive a set percentage of a journeyman's wages in payment. Students must also complete a required amount of classroom study to properly complete the apprenticeship.
Employment opportunities for carpenters were expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is as fast as average. Housing needs and an increase in road and bridge repair were expected to influence growth, which can also vary by geographical location and government funding. Carpenters with advanced skills and the ability to speak Spanish can expect to find more job opportunities, according to the BLS.
Though some carpenters learn their trade exclusively through on-the-job training by starting as helpers, your chances for advancement in the field and opportunities for employment can be enhanced by completing an apprenticeship. You would also be wise to secure licensure or certification, without which you would be prohibited by law from performing certain activities.