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How to Become a Carpenter: 4 Simple Steps to Follow

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Want to join the ranks of experienced carpenters worldwide but don’t know how to get started?

You’re not the only one.

If you want to make this career move, this article will guide you through the process and tell you how to become a carpenter in four easy steps.

An Overview of Carpentry: A Primer

Carpentry is a hands-on craft that measures, cuts and builds different construction forms. A few examples are doorframes, timber bridges, bridge supports, partitions, and more.

Their main job is to read a client’s blueprints and build structures according to them. Carpenters can work both exteriorly and interiorly.

They work on construction projects to build and install cabins in kitchens, doors, windows, walls, floors, and more. Outdoors, they construct and install roofs, wooden forms, erect scaffolds, and more.

How Much Do Carpenters Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, carpenters make around $27.99 per hour as of May 2022.

However, the rate differs according to various factors, like the city where you live, whether you work as an independent contractor or in a company, and the extent of your carpentry skills.

For instance, you’ll likely get paid more for your work in New York because projects here are more costly since it’s of the most expensive cities in the US. The wage will be lower if you work in a smaller city.

What You’ll Need to Become a Carpenter [& Associated Costs]

Here’s what you’ll need to become a carpenter and how much it will cost you:

  • High school diploma or GED: Carpentry requires knowledge in mathematics, drawing, and woodworking, which call for a high school diploma or a GED. Though it’s not mandatory, many contractors prefer to work with carpenters with these diplomas.
  • Certificate in carpentry: To practice carpentry freely and ensure clients you’re a professional, you’ll need a carpentry certificate from an apprenticeship program, a technical school, a trade school, etc.
  • Physical strength: Carpentry is physically demanding, as you’ll need to stand for hours in the sun, climb ladders, carry heavy tools, and more.
  • Experience in hand and power tools: Using tools is an inevitable part of the job, so you need to learn to work with multiple building materials and tools during your training.
  • Experience in blueprint reading: A massive part of a carpenter’s job is reading blueprints and following their instructions to build a structure. You also need experience in interpreting these blueprints before working as a carpenter.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Carpenter?

To work as a carpenter, the only costs you’ll need to pay are those for a high school diploma and a carpentry certificate.

High school courses will cost you about $2000-$2800 over three or four years, while the latter will cost you an average of $700-$7000 over one year.

If you join an apprenticeship program instead, it’ll take you about three or four years, and you might pay up to $15,000.

Is It Hard to Become a Carpenter?

Becoming a carpenter is easy, considering there are no strict requirements to enter a carpentry diploma or apprenticeship program.

Even these can be considered mandatory if you have hands-on skills and some experience.

Most contractors ask for a high school certificate and expect you to be over 16 years old. But, having some proof of your skills, such as through courses, can help you land better-paying gigs and navigate competition better.

You also need building materials and power tools knowledge, easily achievable through technical training or carpentry classes.

The demand for carpenters and construction workers is always high because they’re needed in many fields, including residential and non-residential building construction.

Finding a job won’t be as difficult as you’d expect.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Carpenter?

This depends on your current educational situation.

If you don’t have a high school diploma or GED, you’ll need to factor in time for studying, which can take around four years.

You can also enroll in a program and get a carpentry diploma, which can take around one year. This way, you’ll have enough knowledge of carpentry techniques and materials to start your career.

Apprenticeship programs will take 2-4 years and also help you learn the ropes, but they can take anywhere between 2-4 years.

How to Become a Carpenter in 4 Simple Steps

You can begin your new career as a carpenter in four simple steps:

Step 1: Get a High School Diploma or a GED

Many carpentry teaching programs will have a high school diploma as a requirement since the job requires mathematical skills.

If you don’t, you should look for public schools nearby or adult learning programs if you’re over 18 years old.

The most important classes you should take are geometry, algebra, physics, and woodworking, if available.

To cut down on time, you can also get your GED. You only have to pass a few tests to get this diploma, so consider this option if you have the knowledge or are a great self-paced learner.

If not, then look for in-person classes.

Step 2: Enroll in a Carpentry Apprenticeship Program

After graduating from high school, you should look for nearby carpentry apprenticeship programs. These programs aren’t mandatory to start your career, but they’ll give you a kickstart by introducing you to different job techniques.

For instance, you’ll learn all about roofing, framing, drywalling, reading blueprints, building foundations, and more.

Some programs also give you on-the-job training to boost your confidence and experience, which can be helpful if you want to work independently.

Step 3: Train With Experienced Carpenters

When pursuing a hands-on career like carpentry, it’ll be best to train with experts to get all the needed experience.

Working with experienced carpenters will help you improve your building skills, learn how to use each tool safely, and get a closer glimpse into what the job entails physically.

You’ll gain many connections in the field, which can help land you gigs either as a freelancer or even in a construction company.

Step 4: Look for a Job

Once you learn the ropes and develop your skills, you can start looking for a job in carpentry. Luckily, the demand for carpenters is high, so you have many options.

If you have enough connections in your neighborhood, you can work independently with clients. Over time, you’ll build trust with people from your local community and will get more work.

Another option is to work in a construction company. The bonus here is that you’ll work alongside many carpenters and under general construction supervisors, so you can learn much more about the construction industry.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Carpenter

If you’re still hesitant about pursuing carpentry as a career, these perks of the job might motivate you to move forward:

  • No higher education needed: Carpentry is all about hands-on skills and has minimal educational requirements compared to other jobs, so you can save the money you’d have spent on going to college.
  • Predictable working schedule: Indoor carpenters work 8 hours a day and have the chance to spend holidays and non-working days with their families. If the work’s done outside, hours can differ since the weather conditions will also factor in. But for the most part, the schedule of a carpenter is predictable.
  • High demand: Construction is a gigantic industry, and there’s always a need for aspiring carpenters. If you pursue this path, you won’t have an issue landing a job.
  • Scalable: Carpentry is a scalable career because as you spend more time in the field, you learn more skills and improve your existing ones. Over time, this means more money and clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Carpentry Involve Health Hazards?

Yes, it does. Carpentry involves injury hazards because of heavy power tools and long-standing hours. Also, it requires exposure to hazardous chemicals, industrial solvents, and many other materials that pose a health risk.

How Do Carpenters Guarantee Their Safety?

Carpenters can stay safe while working by following safety clothing guidelines, wearing protective masks and gloves, and ensuring their work area is safe before standing there.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

If you’re still pondering carpentry and want to explore different options, here’s a list of similar gigs you should consider:

  • How to Become a Welder: This is also a hands-on job that requires skills and knowledge of tools. Welding involves fusing metals using heat and can provide several exciting job opportunities.
  • How to Become a Security Guard: If you want another job that has minimal education requirements, you should consider becoming a security guard.
  • How to Become a Barber: If you’re skilled in hands-on jobs but want a less risky and more enjoyable career, you can train to become a barber.
  • How to Become a Locksmith: Locksmithing is a conventional craft that involves making and breaking locks. It’s an excellent field if you want to make a career change.

Wrapping Up

Training to be a carpenter isn’t as challenging as you’d think, but it can take some time. You have to obtain a high school diploma, receive specialized training in the field, and you’re good to go.

By taking this guide as your reference, you can gain a kickstart into the field and knowledge of what the job entails.

Feel better prepared to become a carpenter? Let us know in the comments! Feel free to share this guide with your friends and family if you enjoyed it.

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