Home Improvement Career Options and Requirements

Home improvement careers are generally learned through hands-on training or an apprenticeship, certificate, or degree program. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options available.

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There are many career options for those interested in home improvement. Carpenters, carpet installers and interior designers are some of the career options for those who wish to work in the field of home renovation and construction.

Essential Information

Some home improvement careers are learned entirely on the job while other career options also require studying at a vocational school or university resulting in earning a certificate or a degree. If enrolled in an apprenticeship program the student attends classes and also learns the skills as an assistant right on the job. Licensure or certification may be required for some home improvement careers depending on the state. For most of these careers, individuals need to be good with their hands, accurate in their work and have the capacity to work independently.

Career Carpenter Carpet Installer Interior Designer
Education Requirements High school diploma (or equivalent) N/A Associate or Bachelor's
Other Requirements On-the-job training via apprenticeship On-the-job training Licensing or certification (vary by state)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% 6% 4%
Average Salary (2015)* $46,780 $43,210 $55,510

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

There are several home improvement career options to choose from. Some of the most popular include becoming a carpenter, carpet installer, or interior designer.

Carpenter

A carpenter builds wooden structures, including wall, door and window frames. A carpenter may also build staircases, cabinets and lay hardwood flooring. While each carpentry task is different, the same general procedure is followed for all carpentry work. The carpenter uses a blueprint as a guide for how to build an item. The next steps include measuring, marking, cutting and joining pieces together.

Requirements

A carpenter must be accurate in his or her work, pay attention to detail and be able to work independently. Carpenters are generally judged by their professional skills and prior work rather than formal education. There are three general paths for learning carpentry skills. Aspiring carpenters might learn entirely on the job, enroll in vocational or technical carpentry programs or enter apprenticeships.

Vocational or technical programs in carpentry offer classroom training with some hands-on training. This type of program may offer courses in maintenance, remodeling, cabinetmaking, flooring and specialty trades. Graduates earn a certificate, diploma or degree in carpentry.

In apprenticeship programs, students attend classes while also working as a carpenter's assistant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a program usually takes three to four years to complete and requirements include being at least 18 years old (www.bls.gov). Apprenticeships may be offered through colleges, universities, professional organizations or employers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS noted that the average annual salary for carpenters was $46,780 as of May 2015. Between 2014 and 2024, carpenters could see employment growth of 6%, the BLS predicted.

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Carpet Installer

A carpet installer may install various types of carpeting in homes, offices and businesses. Carpet installer job duties include cutting, measuring, laying and finishing carpet.

Requirements

Carpet installers usually learn the trade through on-the-job training. Most individuals start out in this career with little or no knowledge of the trade. Employers may or may not require a high school diploma. Formal educational programs are rare, but apprenticeships are available.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS expected carpet installers to see 6% percent growth rate from 2014 to 2024. Their average salary as of May 2015 was $43,210, the BLS reported.

Interior Designer

An interior designer creates the design of interior spaces of a home or business. A designer may be responsible for choosing paint colors, flooring type, accessories and other design elements. A designer has to have artistic ability to put together a pleasing room design. It is also important that a designer has good people skills, be able to meet deadlines, work well under stress and communicate effectively.

Requirements

Interior designers often must hold an associate or bachelor's degree in interior design. Interior design programs cover topics like color matching, texture choosing, business management principles and computer design techniques. Comprehensive programs prepare students to start their own businesses or work for design companies.

In some states, licensing or certification may be required for interior designers. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) offers the Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP). This program provides students with education, work experience and mentoring that prepares them for entering the workforce or taking the NCIDQ exam. The NCIDQ exam is the national licensing exam required in some states.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS expected 4% growth in employment for interior designers during the 2014-2024 decade, and it reported an average salary of $55,510 for these professionals in 2015.

Interior designers are typically required to have a bachelor's degree and license, while carpenters and carpet installers primarily learn on-the-job through an apprenticeship or employee training. It is possible to pursue postsecondary studies related to carpentry, which may help increase job prospects for those interested in a career in that field.

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