Carpenter Schooling and Education
Entering a future in the highly-skilled and challenging field of professional carpentry is an attractive option for many people. If you enjoy using your hands to create things of lasting beauty and enduring quality using practical skills, then schooling as a carpenter may be the right choice for you. Being a carpenter requires attention to detail, extensive knowledge of basic engineering, and construction theory. Furthermore, you will also need to master the skills to meet cutting edge building industry standards for quality and craftsmanship. Carpenters enjoy excellent compensation, generous benefit packages, and all the opportunities of having in-demand skills in a highly competitive industry. Most carpentry instruction programs require individuals to be a minimum of 17 years of age, be a high school graduate, or have equivalent education and/or experience and be legally able to work in the United States.
Starting on the Path to Becoming a Carpenter
When looking for the right carpentry diploma or associate degree program, it is important to find a program that has excellent connections to the construction industry to insure you have the best future work prospects. To become a skilled tradesman your education needs to include knowledge of up-to-date building codes. Your school must also provide you with experience in working with real plans for buildings that have actually been built, not simply textbooks about plans. Carpentry school will require you to develop excellent math and estimating skills, not only in case you want to advance toward becoming a foreman, project manager, or running your own company, but because understanding math is key to understanding engineering and building theory. A good carpentry program must also provide a strong emphasis on safety with instruction provided in OSHA safety standards for scaffold work and toxic materials handling. Teaching you CPR, first aid, emergency response and fire stop techniques are equally important.
Working and Earning While You Learn
Carpenter school programs typically include classroom study–often in the evenings and on weekends—and hands-on training under the supervision of an experienced carpenter called a journeyman or journeyperson. Time spent on a job site is credited to the student apprentice and they are paid for the hours worked. An apprentice carpenter typically earns between 30 and 50 percent of the rate paid to fully certified journeyman carpenters.
Future Potential and Carpentry Work Paths
A profession in carpentry has many opportunities for specialization as well as advancement. Upon achieving your journeyman certification, you also have the opportunity to work toward a position as a site foreman, supervisor, or seek additional education before transitioning into large project management or construction business operations. Some carpenters enter the construction industry with the intent of gaining the requisite experience to start their own company. You may also decide to pursue an associate degree, which includes more general education courses like writing, math, and sociology.
Certifications and Specialties that Gain You Employment
When you choose a carpentry school program, look for programs that offer you certifications in industry standards and safety, plus offer instruction in the use of specialized tools. Certifications like the OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour safety card, Red Cross CPR, First Aid Certificate, and certification that you have received training in specialized construction tools, like powder-actuated nail guns, will give you better work opportunities when you graduate. Specialized education in concrete design, roofing systems, plan review, plywood properties, and certain modular or prefabricated building systems also give you more opportunities in a competitive but very promising job market!