4 Essential Tips for How to Become a Carpenter

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 19, 2018

Oct 19, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

The Associated General Contractors of America recently reported that forty-five states added more construction jobs to the national workforce within the last year. The Association believes these figures would have been higher if there were more qualified construction workers to do the jobs.

Construction careers continue to be in high demand as our nation's economy remains strong. From plumbers to carpenters, more trained professionals are needed to meet the increased needs for building services.

The Occupational Handbook from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that carpenters earned a median salary of $45,170 in 2017. Jobs are projected to grow by eight percent between 2016 and 2026.

If you want to learn more about how to become a carpenter, then this article is for you!

What Does a Carpenter Do

Carpenters work primarily with wood. You'll find them working on many different types of construction projects ranging from cabinetry to commercial buildings. Some carpenters may also specialize in working with other materials like drywall or fiberglass.

Carpenters are trained to read blueprints and use both hand and power tools. Carpenters need to know how to safely cut and assemble materials for building furniture or single family homes. They're regularly hired to repair or install residential fixtures like staircases or outdoor decks.

Carpenters can find jobs anywhere from manufacturing firms to government agencies. Most carpenters are self-employed and open their own business. If opening your own business appeals to you, you can discover more here to get an idea of what clients expect carpenters should be able to do.

How to Become a Carpenter

The first important question to ask yourself is are you ready for the work environment these professionals work in every day? Carpentry involves a lot of physical activity and not a lot of desk time.

Carpenters have to lift heavy materials and spend a lot of time kneeling or standing. They also see a high rate of injuries like cuts, falls and strained muscles.

If this environment doesn't discourage you from this career field, then you can read farther on how to make this job come true for you.

Complete Your High School Diploma or GED

The first step to becoming a carpenter is to finish your high school diploma or GED. This is where carpenters learn basic skills in math, woodworking, and drafting. Carpenters can also use their high school years to learn computer-aided drafting and small business practices since most carpenters are self-employed.

Vocational Training

Although there are no formal education requirements to become a carpenter, some students attend vocational or trade schools that specialize in carpentry. Some trade school programs are also available online.

Some community colleges offer associate's degrees for specialized areas like commercial construction.


The best way for students to join this profession is through a carpentry apprenticeship that generally lasts from three to four years. Apprenticeships include over 100 hours of technical training and 2000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Carpenter apprentices are supervised by mentors and learn skills like job site safety and how to use hand or power tools.


Most states, require carpenters to be licensed when they remodel or demolish existing structures. Carpenters must also have their license if they want to do general contractor duties such as work with architects or prepare job bids.

You can find more on each state's general contractor license requirements here to see if this career path is for you.

Next Steps

Want to find out more on how to become a carpenter in your state?

Look for carpentry trade schools online or near where you can read more about the types of classes offered. You can check with your state's carpentry union to find a list of apprenticeships where you can find hands-on training opportunities.

Don't forget to check out the National Jobs Career blog for more information about other careers you can pursue.

Your dream job could be waiting for you around the corner!