Schools for Master Carpenters: How to Find and Choose

In the U.S., the title of master carpenter is not officially bestowed by any carpentry union or certification board, but rather refers to a carpenter who is highly skilled, such as one who has followed the traditional career route of apprentice carpenter, journey carpenter, master carpenter. Schools with carpentry programs may offer apprenticeships or equivalent coursework. To learn more about choosing a school for general carpentry training, read on.

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Students who want to learn carpentry skills can complete carpentry certificate and degree programs offered through technical and vocational schools and community colleges across the U.S. Carpentry apprenticeship programs are also available through labor unions and trade groups, sometimes in conjunction with certificate or degree programs.

Schools with Carpentry Programs

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer carpentry programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*
Red Rocks Community College Lakewood, CO 2-year, Public Certificate In-state $3,429; Out-of-state $13,145
Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh, PA 2-year, Public Certificate In-district $3,999; In-state $7,298; Out-of-state $10,440
Wichita Area Technical College Wichita, KS 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $7,317; Out-of-state $8,728
Los Angeles Trade Technical College Los Angeles, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $1,220; Out-of-state $7,016
City College Montana State University Billings Billings, MT 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $3,810; Out-of-state $8,027
Cuyahoga Community College Cleveland, OH 2-year, Public Associate's In-district $3,136; In-state $3,953; Out-of-state $7,648
Ranken Technical College St. Louis, MO 4-year, Private Certificate, Associate's $14,457
Walla Walla Community College Walla Walla, WA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $4,203; Out-of-state $5,670

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when deciding on a carpentry program:

  • Apprenticeship programs are the most common training format for aspiring carpenters, but some schools offer short, intensive certificate programs that may not require any classes outside of carpentry or related construction topics.
  • Students who wish to earn an undergraduate degree while learning the trade can look for a program offering associate degrees, and they can consider programs that allow for transfer to a 4-year bachelor's degree program in a related field.
  • Students who want to work in theatre as master carpenters may want to find a school that offers theatre classes in addition to a carpentry program.
  • Carpentry programs are offered at both public and private institutions, and the tuition costs can vary widely based on the type of school and the student's residency.

Carpentry Certificate

Admission requirements for these certificate programs often include prior coursework in, or experience with, basic math, basic construction skills and blueprint reading. Some carpentry certificate programs focus only on carpentry, with no coursework in outside areas. Others require students to learn basic construction skills, and some certificate programs require students to take general education courses in subjects like computer science, business or psychology.

Carpentry Associate Degree

Schools that offer both associate degrees and certificates in carpentry often create the associate degree curriculum by adding general education and elective requirements to the certificate curriculum. In some cases, general education requirements, like math, science and liberal arts, are not part of the associate degree curriculum.

Carpentry Apprenticeships

Apprenticeship programs typically take three or four years to complete and include both lecture-based sessions and on-the-job training; students are typically paid entry-level trainee wages. Some associate degree programs require enrolled students to concurrently participate in an apprenticeship program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. Graduates of apprenticeships can typically become journeyman carpenters.

Carpenters can enter their career field via a certificate, associate's degree or apprenticeship program. There are many program options at both public and private institutions for prospective students to consider based on whether they only want career training or also want to earn a degree.

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