Wood Carving Carpenter: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Wood carving carpenters, or woodworkers, produce cabinets and furniture and usually learn their trade on the job. Continue reading for information about technical skills, job outlook and earnings potential for wood carving carpenters.

Career Definition for a Wood Carving Carpenter

In contrast to carpenters, wood carvers are generally more involved with the artistic and creative aspects of cabinet and furniture building. Based upon blueprints and shop drawings, they create custom-made or market-ready products from hard and soft woods, laminates and veneers. Wood carving carpenters use their knowledge of design and math to transform clients' ideas into finished projects using automated machinery and power tools. Wood carving carpenters can be employed by sawing or woodworking machine setters, bench and cabinet carpenters or furniture finishers.

Education High school diploma; on-the-job training
Job Skills Detail oriented, dexterity, mathematics, physical strength
Median Salary (2015) $42,090 (all carpenters)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (all carpenters)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Wood carving carpenters may earn a diploma, certificate or an associate's degree in carpentry, fine woodworking or wood technology, with certificate programs in wood carving available at individual schools. In general, three years of on-the-job training are usually required for full technical proficiency. Training topics include studies in mechanical drawing, building materials, blueprint reading and structural design, as well as the use and maintenance of tools. Aspiring professionals also learn about basic business practices, first aid and safety.

Skills Required

In addition to eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity, wood carving carpenters should be creative and have a sense of design. Interpersonal and communication skills are useful when working closely with clients on custom woodwork. Self-employed wood carving carpenters also need business, marketing and networking skills.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), carpenters in general can look forward to an about average increase of 6% in jobs nationwide from 2014 to 2024. By comparison, woodworkers across the country will experience a 1% decrease in jobs during the same period.

As of May 2015, carpenters in general earned a median annual salary of $42,090. In the same month, cabinet makers and bench carpenters were paid median yearly salaries of $32,270, while woodworking machine setters and other woodworkers earned median annual wages of $27,820 and $28,990, respectively (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Those interested in wood carving may consider similar occupations, including carpentry and furniture building.


In contrast to cabinet and furniture makers, carpenters usually assemble and repair building frames, roofs and structures; some professionals might also install cabinetry or drywall. Training requirements include an apprenticeship lasting 3-4 years, and areas of specialization can include commercial, industrial or residential carpentry. In May 2014, approximately 33% of carpenters worked for themselves, according to the BLS. The remainder were employed in residential and nonresidential construction, building finishing or exterior, foundation and structural contracting (www.bls.gov).

Craft and Fine Artists

Furniture makers, who are included in the BLS classification for craft and fine artists, create custom-designed or handcrafted furniture. Formal training is not required in order to pursue a career, although aspiring craftspersons may benefit from a certificate, undergraduate or graduate program in the fine arts, as well as non-credit or private classes and instruction. The BLS reports that craft and fine artists nationwide will see a 2% (or slower-than-average) growth in jobs between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, craft artists earned a median annual salary of $45,080 (www.bls.gov).

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