Finish Carpentry Education Requirements

Sep 12, 2019

Training in finish carpentry typically covers practical, hands-on work. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for finish carpentry graduates.

With a high school diploma or at the age of 17, it is possible to pursue an apprenticeship in carpentry. Apprentices must obtain a job with a contractor to be eligible for apprenticeship programs through the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Certificate and associate's degree programs are also available for those who wish to further their education before entering the field..

Essential Information

Finish carpenters have the job of installing wood trim and finishing all the necessary details to complete a remodeling and building project. Most finish carpenters are taught on-the-job; however, some are trained through formal apprentice training programs or in technical or vocational schools.

Required Education High school diploma; certificate and associate's degree programs are available
Other Requirements On-the-job training and/or apprenticeship
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% (for all carpenters)*
Median Salary (2018) $46,590*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Finish Carpenters

Education for finish carpenters may begin in high school. Courses in mathematics, wood shop, physics and even computer-aided drawing may help a student interested in working as a finish carpenter. Following high school graduation, potential finish carpenters may wish to gain employment with an experienced carpenter as a helper. Some employers may offer their own training programs.

They may also consider enrolling at a local community college program or vocational school. They may enroll in a certificate of completion or an associate's degree in construction technology concentrating on finish carpentry. Those who undergo this training may have a better chance of obtaining entry-level positions in construction.

Certificate programs are generally hands-on in nature and are completed in about one year. Students are trained in the technical basics necessary to design, fabricate, install and even repair building structures. Coursework includes job estimation, building codes and standards, blueprint interpretation and techniques in finish carpentry.

Training Requirements

A vocational school may have affiliations with local contractors and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America to provide training in carpentry in the form of an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is made up of classroom instruction along with on-the-job training. These programs are generally three or four years in length.

Apprentices are taught basic structural design and layout, framing and finishing both indoors and outdoors. They learn about the various tools of the trade and practice using different machines and equipment. Safety, basic math, blueprint reading and carpentry techniques are also covered.

Training Information

Acceptance to the apprenticeship program requires applicants to be at least 17 years old and have a job with an area contractor. An applicant must submit a written application, along with a letter from the contractor who has hired the applicant. Apprentices must have their own tools and reliable transportation.

Apprenticeships are limited in number, so only some finish carpenters are trained in this way. Apprentices, who complete the program, are given certification as journeyman carpenters.


The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) offers a certification program to construction professionals. NCCER's National Craft Assessment and Certification program has various assessments available. Assessments are available at the journey level in finish carpentry.

By earning credentials, professionals are provided with a listing in the NCCER's National Registry, allowing employers to track training records and certification levels earned. Credentials are awarded by completing a written test, a practical assessment alone or both written and practical exams.

An apprenticeship is a common path to become a finish carpenter; however, other educational options include certificate and associate's degree studies. To further stand out in this field, students could apply for a construction certification. Stable job growth for all carpenters is projected through 2028.

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