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How high of an education do you need to have a career in carpentry?

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Raashid’s Answer

Should I Become a Carpenter?
Carpenters work with wood and other materials to complete a variety of construction projects. A career in carpentry requires the ability to read blueprints, lay out projects, cut wood, and assemble different materials. They are also responsible for ensuring their work is accurate and in compliance with building standards. Heavy lifting, climbing ladders, standing for prolonged periods, and working in all types of weather might make this occupation physically demanding. Carpenters often work overtime.

Career Requirements
Degree Level A high school diploma or equivalent is required; associate's degree preferred
Degree Field Carpentry
Training 3-4 year apprenticeship
Key Skills Manual dexterity, attention to detail; strong math and problem-solving skills; strength, stamina, focus; basic computer skills and experience using a variety of hand and power tools including chisels, levels, sanders, saws, and nail guns
Median Salary (2019)* $48,330 (for carpenters)
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine.

Step 1: Complete an Apprenticeship
Being admitted to a carpentry apprenticeship program is the most common path to becoming a carpenter. Apprenticeships, which generally take 3-4 years to complete, offer on-the-job training along with classroom instruction. This program is a good way to gain necessary expertise with the tools of the trade and how to best avoid strain or injury.

An apprentice must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, and high school graduate. Potential apprentices are also subject to drug screenings. Individuals are educated in subjects such as carpentry techniques, blueprint reading, safety practices, and scaffold construction. For each year of an aspiring carpenter's apprenticeship, he or she will complete at least 144 hours of technical training and 2000 hours of practical training in the field.

Success Tip
Develop a fitness routine. A carpenter's job can be very taxing physically; they work on their feet, both indoor and outdoors, and sometimes in small spaces. Following a fitness regimen may be a good way to stay in shape and build physical stamina.

Step 2: Consider Postsecondary Education
Though it is not mandatory to break into the profession, aspiring carpenters may complete formal carpentry programs at technical schools or colleges. This formal training offers additional experience in the trade. Diploma, certificate, and associate's degree programs are all available in carpentry. Educational coursework includes building codes, concrete work, blueprint reading, roof framing, building materials, tools, building layouts, and fasteners. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that credit earned during an apprenticeship program may be applied to an associate's degree program.

Step 3: Develop Marketable Skills
The BLS predicts that carpentry will grow 8% in the decade from 2018-2028, though construction jobs tend to fluctuate by geographic location and current economy. Carpenters may choose to enhance their skills by specializing in infrastructure or renovation or by taking courses in Spanish. Carpenters who speak both English and Spanish may be better positioned for advancement in the field, since they can effectively communicate with workers on their teams.

Carpenters work with wood as well as a variety of materials to complete construction projects and must have the ability to read blueprints, use tools safely and effectively, and carry out projects. Aspiring carpenters have many different options when it comes to education, and they must complete an apprenticeship before becoming a carpenter.

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Douglas’s Answer


First of all there are many types of carpenter, for example rough carpentry, framing, finish carpenter plus more . With respect to an educational requirement, a high school diploma would be very helpful for the courses in mathematics, and geometry that you would take and if that high school was a Technical High School which offered classes in carpentry - that would be ideal. Alternately, most, if not all, of the Construction Craft Carpenter Unions have specialized training as a part of their Apprentice Program to teach you the carpenter trade while you are gaining OJT (on the job training). Lastly, there is "on the job training" , with no prior experience (or learning required) in which you would get a job with a company (or individual) that supplies carpentry services and, starting at the bottom, lean the trade. This last option most likely being the lowest pay to start and maybe taking you longer to increase your knowledge and skill level. But, that would depend on the size of the company, the types of services it supplies, and your ability and willingness to learn.

Applying to a local union carpenter apprentice program, whether you want to join a union or not, might be a good way to find out their requirements and the details of their program.

Douglas recommends the following next steps:

I would suggest that you talk with carpenters in your area plus review want ads and the internet job postings to determine starting level job availability and skill requirements plus typical starting pay. Higher skills and more experience pays more than lesser skills and less experience.