If you’ve ever marveled at the work of carpentry and thought of this line of work for yourself, you may be wondering what it takes to be a carpenter. This article will explain what a carpenter is, how you can become one, and everything in between.
What is Carpentry?
Carpentry is a trade that involves working with various materials (wood, engineered lumber, metal, and other factory-produced elements) to create construction projects. The materials can be shaped, cut, or installed to build various things, from houses to ships and bridges.
The Demand for Carpentry
During the pandemic, the need for carpenters subsided as offices and buildings across the country were forced to close. Home construction also took a hit during this time. However, with the reopening of the economy, the carpentry industry is expected to grow over the next five years. Commercial and residential construction has the potential to grow in high demand, making carpentry a field with increased revenue potential in the years to come.
How Much Do Carpenters Earn?
While multiple factors such as education, certifications, and additional skills determine the earning ability of carpenters, as of May 2023, the average carpenter in the U.S. earned at least $61,000. Carpenters are likely to earn anywhere from $53,000 to $71,000 per year.
Skills That Carpentry Requires
Several skills would be helpful for a carpenter to be the most successful in this trade. Some of these skills include:
Basic Math: Basic math skills come in handy for a carpenter to calculate accurate measurements when building various structures. In order to project expenses and timelines, it’s essential to know how much material will be needed to stay on budget. Algebra and geometry are common types of math to help with this.
Physical Endurance and Strength: Carpenters spend a good deal of time lifting and moving heavy materials. They may need to climb ladders and stand or bend for extended periods of time. This all requires an amount of physical endurance and strength that will enable them to do their job successfully.
Communication: Communication skills are a necessity for most jobs. Carpentry is no different. Most structural projects require a team. Teams can miss major marks on a project if there are miscommunications or a lack of communication. Good communication skills include both written and verbal, as well as active listening skills.
Attention Detail: Materials are costly. Carpenters can’t afford redos. When they mess up, it’s costly for the client and throws the timeline off, which affects the bottom dollar. Therefore, carpenters need to give attention to everything as determined in the blueprints. Items need to be cut to precise measurements, and structures need to be built to specific specifications, so alterations aren’t needed.
Problem-solving: Carpenters should always have a problem-solving mindset, as their work solves problems. Whether building the initial structure or repairing it, the work in and of itself exists to solve a problem to make a situation more functional.
Dexterity: Carpenters use their hands, so it’s important to have a sharpness of mind to help direct and guide the ingenuity of their hands.
Mechanical: A carpenter should be comfortable using a variety of machines and tools to do their job. The ability to comfortably work with a variety of tools and machines equals reliability on the job.
How To Acquire or Improve Carpentry Skills
If you know carpentry is an interest you’d like to pursue, you can start working toward that goal as early as high school. Use high school electives to take courses in mechanical drawing, shop, or woodwork. You can also take advantage of additional math courses to start feeling comfortable with the subject. It is recommended that carpenters have at least a high school degree.
Beyond high school, you can focus on an apprenticeship that can include technical training and on-the-job training. Most programs are for four years, but it’s worth it to advance in your craft as you learn carpentry basics, how to read blueprints, more math, building code requirements, enhance problem-solving skills, and other things. All carpenters must pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety courses.
YouTube is a go-to place to learn just about anything you’re trying to learn these days. The same goes for carpentry. If you want to improve your carpentry skills, look to YouTube for videos on carpentry-related work to help master your craft.
How To Get Started as a Carpenter
Make sure to highlight your carpentry skills on your resume. In your work history, make sure to include a description of previous work you’ve done as a carpenter. Include a bulleted list of your skills and follow it up with a short description of how you’ve used these skills in the past.
Use a cover letter to bring attention to one or two relevant skills that demonstrate your qualifications as a carpenter. Keep a portfolio of your work so you can show off what you’ve done, as most people prefer to see visual examples.
After you’ve secured an interview, make sure to hone your carpentry skills whenever possible during the discussion. Let the employer know you’re the perfect candidate for the position, and provide the reasons why.
The Bottom Line
Carpentry is proving to be an industry in high demand. If you have an interest in carpentry, it is not too late to pursue this area of work to secure a comfortable living for yourself.
If you’re currently in high school, take advantage of the elective courses to start learning your field. However, consider an apprentice program if high school is in your rearview mirror and you’re exploring the next steps. Utilize YouTube and other technologies to learn and grow in your field. Peruse Reddit’s Carpentry board to get an initial idea of what other carpenters are experiencing.
In the end, nothing beats learning more than doing. Boost your resume to include the skills and knowledge you’ve gained in this area. Be sure to include descriptions as needed. Top off your resume with a good cover letter and elaborate on two or three top skills. If there’s a particular job you’re applying for, make sure to highlight skills relevant to that particular job.
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