Rough Carpenter: Employment Info & Training Requirements

A rough carpenter may work on residential, commercial, or civil building projects and is responsible for constructing, installing, and repairing structures. Read further to learn more details about a career as a rough carpenter.

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Career Definition for a Rough Carpenter

A rough carpenter uses blueprints and hand and power tools to install hand-cut or prefabricated materials for the purpose of building a new structure, such as a home, a sports arena, or a bridge, or to renovate structures which already exist. The term 'rough carpenter' refers to a carpenter who works on large-scale projects in contrast to a 'fine carpenter', who builds furniture or other more intricate objects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that about a third of all carpenters were self-employed in 2016 ( The job of a rough carpenter requires an individual to work outdoors in all types of weather and to handle tools and other building materials that may be sharp or heavy.

Required Education High school diploma and on-the-job training or apprenticeship; construction science associate's and bachelor's degrees available
Necessary Skills Physical strength, good balance, basic math skills, good manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, work ethic
Median Salary (2018)* $46,590 (for all carpenters)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 8% (for all carpenters)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

Some rough carpenters begin working for a contractor immediately out of high school and learn their skills on the job. However, many vocational and trade schools now offer programs in construction science which prepare the student rough carpenter to read blueprints, understand the basic elements of construction, and handle the tools of the trade. Vocational programs typically last one or two years, and associate's or bachelor's degrees in construction science can be particularly helpful for rough carpenters who wish to work in supervisory positions. Some employers offer apprenticeships that last three to four years and usually combine classroom instruction with paid training.

Skills Required

Due to the strenuous work of lifting, bending, standing in awkward positions, and carrying heavy materials, a rough carpenter must be physically fit and have good balance. He or she should also have basic math skills, good manual dexterity, and keen hand-eye coordination. Because many rough carpenters are self-employed or contract workers, a reliable reputation and a strong work ethic are especially important.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics rates growth for the occupation of carpentry as fast as average at 8% during 2016-2026. The BLS recorded the median hourly earnings for all kinds of carpenters at $22.40 an hour in May 2018 while the median annual salary was $46,590. It's important to note that work is seasonal for many in this field.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a rough carpenter will help prepare you for jobs in other areas.

Construction Laborer and Helper

Learning their skills while on the job, these workers provide the physical labor to complete many basic tasks on construction sites. Faster than average job growth of 12% was expected by the BLS from 2016-2026, and the annual median wage among construction laborers was $35,800 in 2018.

Tile and Marble Setter

This work that involves applying marble and hard tile to floors and walls may be learned on the job or through apprenticeships. The BLS reported an annual median salary of $41,840 in 2018 and predicted a faster than average climb in positions of 10% from 2016-2026.

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