Carpenters use a wide range of tools and techniques to construct, repair and install wooden structures and fixtures. They may also build larger projects such as homes and commercial buildings. They typically receive formal training in the form of an apprenticeship or vocational school program. They can then choose to work as construction carpenters, rough carpenters, or bench carpenters. Those with years of experience can become supervisors or project managers. Some carpenters work for themselves and run their own businesses. Depending on the type of work they do, a career in carpentry requires considerable physical stamina and agility. Workers frequently stand, walk and crouch for long periods of time while they use hand and power tools to shape wood. Physical endurance is essential for completing projects within deadlines and maintaining the safety of others.
A master carpenter possesses excellent communication skills to convey instructions clearly and concisely to others. They must also be able to read blueprints and other technical documents. Other important traits include organizational and management skills. They should be able to prioritize assignments and meet deadlines in order to ensure that all aspects of a job are completed. Outstanding carpenters are also self-motivated and possess leadership abilities, enabling them to train and guide apprentices or other workers. Formal training in the carpentry trade is available through seminars, certificate programs, high-school programs, and online classes. Those with the right amount of education and field experience can obtain union membership and become construction carpenters or rough carpenters.
Other options include becoming a cabinetmaker or working as an assistant to a journeyman. Pre-apprenticeship training is also available through non-union vocational schools and community college programs. An apprenticeship program is often the best way for aspiring carpenters to learn the trade. Prospective workers spend three to five years gaining on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified, experienced carpenter. This can save a lot of money while providing the necessary industry knowledge and skill to work as a carpenter. Apprentices attend classroom sessions, known as “shop classes,” during their training to learn mathematics and trade terminology. They then apply their knowledge on the job site and in a cabinet shop.
They are periodically brought back to the shop for additional instruction in specific aspects of the trade. In addition to classroom and on-the-job training, a successful carpenter needs to have a good understanding of woodworking materials, tools and basic math. A solid foundation in these areas will enable them to make accurate measurements and create precise cuts when constructing or repairing a structure. Many carpenters also need to be familiar with the proper use of hazardous chemicals, such as lead paint or asbestos. In addition to gaining hands-on experience with tools and working on real-world carpentry projects, it’s also important for apprentices to gain knowledge about the history of the trade. This can help them understand the complexities of certain building techniques and how they have evolved over time. This information can also inspire and motivate them as they continue to advance in the carpentry trade.