Finish Carpenter: Job Info & Training Requirements

Read on to see what finish carpenters do. Get the details about education and training requirements, and find out about career prospects to decide if this job is for you.

Career Definition of a Finish Carpenter

Finish carpenters provide finishing touches after the primary building of a structure is done. This includes installing baseboards, molding, stairs, doors, windows, cabinets, and hardwood floors. Finish carpenters follow specific instructions and read blueprints to know exactly where their expertise is needed.

Education Completion of an apprenticeship or vocational school program
Job Skills Excellent communication, attention to detail, physical stamina, carpentry skills
Median Salary (2015)* $42,090 (for all carpenters)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 6% increase (for all carpenters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Finish carpenters typically have a high school diploma and learn the trade on the job through an apprenticeship of at least one year. Some finish carpenters take vocational courses such as cabinetmaking, exterior and interior trim, and stair layout and safety. Finish carpenters also may pursue registration and certification through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (, which offers assessments and training materials.

Skill Requirements

In addition to having impeccable carpentry skills, finish carpenters must be excellent communicators. This means collaborating with co-workers on job specifics to avoid making costly mistakes. The ability to speak a second language, particularly Spanish, also may be helpful in communicating with colleagues.

Economic and Career Outlook

The number of jobs for carpenters, including finish carpenters, is expected to grow 6%, as fast as average, from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Some demand for finish carpenters will be reduced by the use of prefabricated materials and a weaker economy, but skilled workers should continue to find work. The median yearly salary for a carpenter was $42,090 in May 2015, according to BLS figures.

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Alternate Career Options

Other options in this career field include:

Terrazzo Worker

The finished product of a terrazzo worker also provides a decorative, finished look to a space. Terrazzo workers lay out forms and reinforcements, level the surface, and pour concrete for patios, floors, and similar applications. Their concrete is characterized by the addition of marble chips; terrazzo surfaces are polished by terrazzo workers after they've cured. Terrazzo workers are usually high school graduates who complete on-the-job training or an apprenticeship. The BLS predicts that jobs for terrazzo workers and finishers will increase 7% from 2014-2024. The BLS also reports that terrazzo workers earned median pay of $40,710 in 2015.

Marble Setter

A marble setter specializes in cutting marble according to specifications for a variety of uses, like floors and countertops. Marble setters are also responsible for preparing the surface where the marble pieces or slabs will be applied; they may level the area or take steps to ensure stability of the finished work. Aspiring marble setters can complete on-the-job training or an apprenticeship; there is no minimum education requirement. Jobs for flooring installers and title and marble setters are expected to increase 5% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The median salary in 2015 for tile and marble setters was $39,400.

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