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What Does a Carpenter Do?

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 work 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.

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Our one-of-kind Opportunity Meter rates jobs based on salary, current openings and future demand to help you choose the career that is best for you.
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Median Salary $
41,000
Jobs Available
74,080+
A female carpenter uses a miter saw to cut a piece of wood in the shop
Carpenters have been shaping wood for centuries, but the tools of the trade have improved since ancient times. (Credit: antoniodiaz/Shutterstock)
Duties + Responsibilities
  1. Cut, shape and smooth lumber or other materials according to measurements
  2. Calculate and order the materials needed
  3. Construct and install the framing that creates rooms, like door and window frames
  4. Lay out flooring, install roof framing or drywall
  5. Cut, assemble and install furniture, cabinets and shelves
  6. Follow blueprints, drawings or sketches
Education + Training

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.

You May Be a Good Fit for This Position If You
  • 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

 

Carpenter training in your area

Coordinates

Building Construction Technology Certificate

Greenville Technical College
Greenville (0.0 Miles)

Construction Technology Diploma

Iowa Western Community College
Council Bluffs (0.0 Miles)

Building Trades One Year Certificate

Sinte Gleska University
Mission (0.0 Miles)

Short Term Construction Technology Cabinetry and Finish Carpentry Certificate

Peninsula College
Port Angeles (0.0 Miles)
Community College of Baltimore County logo

Carpentry Level I Certificate

Community College of Baltimore County
Baltimore (0.0 Miles)

Construction Technology, A.A.S.

Manhattan Area Technical College
Manhattan (0.0 Miles)
Kirkwood Community College logo

Carpentry Diploma

Kirkwood Community College
Cedar Rapids (0.0 Miles)

Short Term Construction Technology Leadership Certificate

Peninsula College
Port Angeles (0.0 Miles)

Carpentry Certificate

Midlands Technical College
West Columbia (0.0 Miles)

Construction Trades Apprenticeship Preparation Certificate

Edmonds Community College
Lynnwood (0.0 Miles)
Meet Ambassador
Matthew McVay
Meet Ambassador
Matthew McVay

Matthew McVay became a carpenter 17 years ago and hasn’t looked back. “The most surprising thing about the trades is how easy it becomes after you learn the basic concepts,” he said. “One task builds on the concept of the prior task you learn. Everything is comprehensive knowledge.” Learn more about Matthew's story.

Find Carpenter Jobs in Your Area

Coordinates

Carpenter/Remodeling Technician

Pac-Van, Inc.
Albany ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 8 months ago

Welder Helper

Railworks
Minneapolis ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 8 months 1 week ago

Carpenter Laborer

ISEC, INC.
Harrisonburg ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 8 months 3 weeks ago

Operator

Infrasource Services Inc
Hamtramck ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 9 months 1 week ago

Installer

Window Nation
Pittsburgh ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 10 months ago

Construction Laborer

ServiceMASTER Clean
Jackson ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 10 months 1 week ago

Laborer

Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Fort Collins ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 11 months 4 weeks ago

Carpenter

PAE Government Services Inc
Destin ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 year 1 month ago
Ask the Expert: John and Richard Wood
Image
kitchen remodel with white cabinets and kitchen island
Ask the Expert: John and Richard Wood
John and Richard Wood: Owners, American Contracting Services

The brothers' company in Chesapeake, Virginia, has experienced extraordinary growth over the years, so they do their part to help others make their way up the ladder.

When they find good subcontractors, they stick with them for the long haul.

"They become like family. It’s not just about the work anymore. We’re there when they go through stuff. If a guy’s truck breaks down, we get him a truck. The relationship is really where it starts," says Richard.

Their advice to anyone who wants to run their own general contracting firm? "There is always a next step for you to take," says John. "Never be complacent."

Read more of their keys to success.