Carpenter

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Job Outlook:
Little or no change
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Salary
High: $89,950.00
Average: $58,210.00
Hourly
Average: $27.99

What they do:

Construct, erect, install, or repair structures and fixtures made of wood and comparable materials, such as concrete forms; building frameworks, including partitions, joists, studding, and rafters; and wood stairways, window and door frames, and hardwood floors. May also install cabinets, siding, drywall, and batt or roll insulation. Includes brattice builders who build doors or brattices (ventilation walls or partitions) in underground passageways.

On the job, you would:

  • Follow established safety rules and regulations and maintain a safe and clean environment.
  • Measure and mark cutting lines on materials, using a ruler, pencil, chalk, and marking gauge.
  • Assemble and fasten materials to make frameworks or props, using hand tools and wood screws, nails, dowel pins, or glue.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Self-employed carpenters must conduct activities such as bidding on new jobs, tracking inventory, and directing workers.

Detail oriented. Carpenters must be able to precisely cut, measure, and modify the materials they work with.

Dexterity. Carpenters use many tools and need hand-eye coordination to avoid injuring themselves or damaging materials.

Interpersonal skills. Carpenters need to work as a member of a team, cooperating with and assisting others. They also may interact with customers.

Math skills. Carpenters frequently use math skills, including basic trigonometry, to calculate the area, size, and amount of material needed for the job.

Physical strength. Carpenters use heavy tools and materials that weigh up to 100 pounds. They also must be able to stand, climb, or bend for many hours.

Problem-solving skills. Carpenters may work independently with little guidance. They need to be able to modify building materials and make adjustments onsite to complete projects.

Reading comprehension skills. Carpenters need advanced reading ability to understand and follow complex instructions for installing certain products, such as doors.

Personality

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

92% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
86% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
80% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
78% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
78% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
76% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
76% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
76% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
75% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
75% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
74% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
73% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
73% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
72% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Strengths

100% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
61% Conventional  -  Work involves following procedures and regulations to organize information or data, typically in a business setting. Conventional occupations are often associated with office work, accounting, mathematics/statistics, information technology, finance, or human resources.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

64% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Aptitude

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

72% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
72% Visualization  -  The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
66% Manual Dexterity  -  The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
66% Finger Dexterity  -  The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
66% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Job Details

Responsibilities
Clean work sites.
Review blueprints or specifications to determine work requirements.
Measure materials or objects for installation or assembly.
Mark reference points on construction materials.
Cut wood components for installation.
Install building fixtures.
Install doors or windows.
Install wooden structural components.
Verify alignment of structures or equipment.
Select construction materials.
Order construction or extraction materials or equipment.
Coordinate construction project activities.
Prepare operational reports.
Install wooden structural components.
Assemble temporary equipment or structures.
Position construction forms or molds.
Inspect work sites to determine condition or necessary repairs.
Assemble temporary equipment or structures.
Drill holes in construction materials.
Record operational or environmental data.
Remove worn, damaged or outdated materials from work areas.
Install safety or support equipment.
Install building fixtures.
Install doors or windows.
Apply decorative or textured finishes or coverings.
Inspect work sites to determine condition or necessary repairs.
Install wooden structural components.
Install trim or paneling.
Install carpet or flooring.
Apply material to fill gaps in surfaces.
Mix substances or compounds needed for work activities.
Weld metal components.
Estimate construction project costs.
Assemble temporary equipment or structures.
Build construction forms or molds.
Assemble products or production equipment.
Prepare hazardous waste for processing or disposal.
Dig holes or trenches.
Position safety or support equipment.
Direct construction or extraction personnel.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

98% Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets  -  How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?
98% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
94% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
90% Spend Time Standing  -  How much does this job require standing?
89% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
87% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
87% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
86% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
84% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
82% Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable  -  How often does this job require working exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting or uncomfortable?
82% Responsibility for Outcomes and Results  -  How responsible is the worker for work outcomes and results of other workers?
81% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
77% Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls  -  How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls?
73% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
73% Outdoors, Exposed to Weather  -  How often does this job require working outdoors, exposed to all weather conditions?
73% Physical Proximity  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
73% Exposed to Contaminants  -  How often does this job require working exposed to contaminants (such as pollutants, gases, dust or odors)?
70% Consequence of Error  -  How serious would the result usually be if the worker made a mistake that was not readily correctable?
68% Exposed to Hazardous Equipment  -  How often does this job require exposure to hazardous equipment?
66% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
66% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
66% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
69% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

80% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
78% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
77% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
77% Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials  -  Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
76% Handling and Moving Objects  -  Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
75% Performing General Physical Activities  -  Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
73% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
71% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
68% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
66% Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment  -  Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
66% Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others  -  Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
66% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
65% Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment  -  Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.

What Carpenters Do

Carpenters
Carpenters work with different tools.

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

Duties

Carpenters typically do the following:

  • Follow blueprints and building plans to meet the needs of clients
  • Install structures and fixtures, such as windows and molding
  • Measure, cut, and shape wood, plastic, and other materials
  • Construct and install building frameworks, including walls, floors, and doorframes
  • Inspect and replace damaged framework or other structures and fixtures
  • Instruct and direct laborers and other construction helpers

Carpenters have many different tasks. Some carpenters insulate office buildings; others install drywall or kitchen cabinets in homes. Still others focus on production or commercial work to help construct tall buildings or bridges, installing wooden concrete forms for cement footings or pillars. These carpenters also erect shoring and scaffolding for buildings.

Carpenters use many different tools to cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall. They use handtools, including squares, levels, and chisels, as well as many power tools, such as sanders, circular saws, nail guns, and welding machines. On large projects, carpenters may use rigging hardware and cranes as part of the installation process. Carpenters may also use smart phones, tablets, and other personal electronic devices to assist with planning, drafting, or other calculations. 

Carpenters fasten materials with nails, screws, staples, and adhesives and check their work to ensure that it is correct. They use tape measures or laser measures on nearly every project to quickly determine distances. Many employers require carpenters to supply their own tools on the job.

The following are examples of types of carpenters:

Construction carpenters construct, install, and repair structures and fixtures of wood, plywood, and wallboard, using carpenters’ handtools and power tools.

Rough carpenters build rough wooden structures, such as concrete forms; scaffolds; tunnel, bridge, or sewer supports; and temporary frame shelters, according to sketches, blueprints, or oral instructions.

Wood flooring installers put in a variety of materials, including plank, strip, end-grain, and parquet flooring. These wood products may be nailed in place or glued down. Floor sanders and finishers may smooth the flooring onsite or it may be prefinished prior to installation.

Work Environment

Carpenters held about 956,300 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of carpenters were as follows:

Self-employed workers 27%
Residential building construction 23
Building finishing contractors 13
Nonresidential building construction 12
Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors 10

Carpenters work indoors and outdoors on many types of construction projects, from installing kitchen cabinets to building highways and bridges. Carpenters may work in cramped spaces and frequently alternate between lifting, standing, and kneeling. Those who work outdoors are subject to variable weather, which may affect a project’s schedule.

Injuries and Illnesses

Carpenters sometimes get injured on the job, such as from strains caused by overexertion due to lifting and moving materials. Other common injuries result from falls, slips, trips, and contact with objects or equipment. Workers often wear equipment such as boots, hardhats, protective eyewear, and reflective vests as a safeguard against injuries.

Work Schedules

Most carpenters work full time, which may include evenings and weekends to meet clients’ deadlines. Extreme temperatures or inclement weather may impact building construction timelines, which in turn may affect carpenters’ work hours.

Getting Started

Education:
52%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED)
21%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production)

How to Become a Carpenter

Carpenters
Apprentice carpenters learn by working with more experienced coworkers.

Carpenters typically need a high school diploma and learn on the job or through apprenticeships.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to enter the occupation. Certain high school courses, such as mathematics and mechanical drawing, may be useful. Some vocational-technical schools offer associate’s degrees in carpentry. The programs vary in length and teach basics and specialties in carpentry.

Training

Carpenters typically learn on the job or through apprenticeships. They often begin doing simple tasks, such as measuring and cutting wood, under the guidance of experienced carpenters or other construction workers. They then progress to more complex tasks, such as reading blueprints and building wooden structures.

Several groups, such as unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must complete a predetermined number of hours of technical training and paid on-the-job training. Apprenticeship program requirements differ based on the type of program and by region. Apprentices learn carpentry basics, blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first aid practices. They also may receive specialized training in creating and setting concrete forms, rigging, welding, scaffold building, and working within confined workspaces. All carpenters must pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour safety course.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some carpenters work as construction laborers or helpers before becoming carpenters. Laborers and helpers learn tasks that are similar to those of carpenters.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Carpenters may need a driver’s license to travel to jobsites.

Optional programs offer certification by specialty that may allow carpenters to find additional work opportunities or lead to career advancement. For example, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry offers various levels of certification for remodeling. The National Wood Flooring Association offers certification for installers, craftsman, and master craftsman.

Advancement

Carpenters are involved in many phases of construction and may have opportunities to become first-line supervisors, lead carpenters, independent contractors, or general construction supervisors.

Job Outlook

Employment of carpenters is projected to show little or no change from 2022 to 2032.

Despite limited employment growth, about 79,500 openings for carpenters are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Population growth should result in more new-home construction—one of the largest segments employing carpenters—which will create some jobs for carpenters. Construction of factories and other nonresidential buildings also is projected to result in some new jobs over the decade.

However, the popularity of modular and prefabricated components for homes and businesses reduces the need for carpenters to build new structures. Roofs, insulation, walls, and other components, as well as entire buildings, may be manufactured in a separate facility and then assembled onsite.

Contacts for More Information

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities in this trade, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, local contractors or firms that employ carpenters, or local union–management carpenter apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about carpenters, including training opportunities, visit

Associated Builders and Contractors

Associated General Contractors of America

Home Builders Institute

National Association of the Remodeling Industry

NCCER

National Wood Flooring Association

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Carpenters Training Fund

For more information about pre-apprenticeship training, visit

Home Builders Institute

National Building Trades Union

For information about opportunities for military veterans, visit:

Helmets to Hardhats

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of carpenters.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Construction and building inspectors Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

High school diploma or equivalent $64,480
Construction laborers and helpers Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

See How to Become One $39,520
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting.

No formal educational credential $51,160
General maintenance and repair workers General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,980
Insulation workers Insulation Workers

Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings or mechanical systems.

See How to Become One $47,980
Roofers Roofers

Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings.

No formal educational credential $47,920
solar photovoltaic installers image Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy.

High school diploma or equivalent $45,230
Tile and marble setters Flooring Installers and Tile and Stone Setters

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, tile, and other materials.

No formal educational credential $47,890
Woodworkers Woodworkers

Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products, such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,590

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.