If a sense of accomplishment is what you’re after, carpentry could be the job for you. Carpenters are skilled craftsmen who build and repair structures made of wood or other materials. Carpenters measure and arrange the materials they need. Some carpenters also work from blueprints. They cut wood using tools like chisels, planes, saws and sanders. Carpenters then use nails, screws, staples or adhesives to connect the materials. They check their work with levels, rules, framing squares and surveying equipment.
Carpenters’ duties vary. Rough carpenters working on framing, concrete form work, and other projects that focus on the frame of the building, while finish carpenters focus on interior projects, such as stairs, doors, windows and moldings. Carpenters can further specialize to become cabinet or furniture makers.
The job often requires a flexible schedule.
- Follow blueprints, drawings or sketches
- Calculate and order the materials needed
- Cut, shape and smooth lumber or other materials according to measurements
- Construct and install the framing that creates rooms, like door and window frames.
- Cut, assemble and install furniture, cabinets and shelves
- Lay out flooring, install roof framing or drywall
- Inspect work and do necessary repairs
- Build scaffolding and other building structures
- Document repairs and maintain records
Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent. Some carpenters get their start as construction laborers who prepare, clean and maintain a safe job site. Construction laborers also assist workers from various trades with their work.
Carpenters primarily learn on the job through apprenticeships, which are often sponsored by businesses, unions and contractor associations. Training also includes classes at technical school or community college, which can result in certifications or an associate degree. All carpenters must pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour safety course. In addition, there are many opportunities for continuing education through certifications, which are available for many areas of specialization.
- Communicate well
- Have good math skills and are adept at measuring
- Have good time-management skills
- Are exceptionally detail-oriented
- Work well independently
- Have good dexterity
- Have the physical strength to lift or move heavy equipment and tools