A carpenter’s job description includes reading blueprints, laying out structures, measuring, and cutting all types of materials. A carpenter is proficient with a variety of classic and modern tools. Carpenters create the framework of doors, walls, rafters, and other areas of a building. They also install various products such as windows, trim, and cabinets.

  • Rough carpenter: You’ll work on large projects where you will go over the site blueprints to determine what materials are necessary to complete the job. Once you’ve figured that out, then you’ll measure and cut the materials specification, using tools of your trade. You may need to build a scaffold or other type of structure for temporary support.
  • Finish (Trim) carpenter: You might install decorative trim in residences, make furniture, cabinets, and other fine wood pieces. You’re also called a joiner, and you enter a project once it’s ready for the details such as crown molding, stairs, doors, windows. There will be a lot of collaboration when you work as a finish carpenter, so you need to be a decent communicator. Super fine attention to detail is necessary for this job.

Training to Become a Carpenter

Most likely, you’ll train to become a carpenter on the job through an apprenticeship, but some of the best trade schools offer carpentry programs too. If going to school to become a carpenter is your goal, then here’s what you’re going to need to do:

  • Get your high school diploma or GED.
  • Go to school
  • Or, Start working as an apprentice under a more experienced carpenter.
  • Or, find an apprenticeship through a union or contractor association.
  • You could also start out as a construction laborer, and move over to carpentry.
  • Consider getting some voluntary certifications such as the Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training or one of many from the National Association of Remodeling Industry.

Find a carpentry school near you.

Carpenter’s Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2023, carpenters made an average of $60,970. The bottom 10 percent of carpenters made $37,440, and the top 10 percentage of carpenters earned $94,580 or more. Factors weighing into your pay will be the industry you’re employed in, where you live, and how much experience you have.

Just starting out, when you’re working as an apprentice, you make a small percentage of what an experienced carpenter does, but that goes up along with your experience. The top paying industry for carpenters in 2023 was electric power generation, transmission, and distribution. Carpenters in this field in 2023 made $113,810.

Salary data on this page was updated in April of 2024.