The following information is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Carpenters. Please visit the website for a more comprehensive breakdown of the data.


Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

Job Duties

  • Follow blueprints and building plans to meet the needs of clients
  • Install structures and fixtures, such as windows and molding
  • Measure, cut, and shape wood, plastic, and other materials
  • Construct and install building frameworks, including walls, floors, and doorframes
  • Inspect and replace damaged framework or other structures and fixtures
  • Instruct and direct laborers and other construction helpers


National Average Annual Pay (2019): $52,580

Top 5 States

1. Hawaiʻi


2. New Jersey


3. Illinois


4. Alaska


5. New York


Bottom 5 States

50. South Dakota


49. Arkansas


48. North Carolina


47. Mississippi


46. Idaho



There are a couple different ways to pursue a career as a carpenter.

The first one is to get a carpenter apprenticeship. You will learn training on the job and you also will get paid as an apprentice. You will start with learning the fundamentals, like measuring and cutting wood, and move on to more advanced skills. Talk to your local carpenter’s union or contractor associations to find out about apprenticeship opportunities in your area. The information may not be online so give them a call to find someone who can help point you in the right direction.

Another way to learn carpentry skills is to go to a trade or vocational school. Just like in an apprenticeship, you will start by learning the basic skills before learning more difficult techniques. If you take a carpentry program at a community college, you can earn you associate’s degree as well. The benefit of having an AS degree may not be clear now, but it can help save you time later if you want to further your education. After completing the program, you can look for apprenticeship opportunities to further your training.

You will need to pass the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) technical training 10 hour safety course.

After several years of being an apprentice, you will be eligible to be a journey-level carpenter and earn a higher salary.

  • Option 1: On the Job Training with an Apprenticeship

    To find apprenticeships, contact your carpenter’s union or contractor associations in your area.

  • Option 2: Receive Training at a Trade School

    Many vocational schools offer carpentry programs. Community colleges may have programs as well where you can also earn an associate’s degree. You can still pursue an apprenticeship upon completion of the program.

  • Become a Journey-Level Carpenter

    The requirement is around 144 hours of formal training and 2,000 hours of work per year for about four years. Then you will be eligible for a journey-level carpenter card. Check with your local trade unions for the exact requirements in your area.

  • Career Advancement

    Once you gain the experience, you can advance your career to a first-line supervisor, lead carpenter, independent contractor, or general construction supervisor.


Business Skills

Self-employed carpenters must conduct activities such as bidding on new jobs, tracking inventory, and directing workers.


Carpenters use many tools and need hand-eye coordination to avoid injuring themselves or damaging materials.

Detail Oriented

Carpenters must be able to precisely cut, measure, and modify the materials they work with.

Math Skills

Carpenters frequently use math skills, including basic trigonometry, to calculate the area, size, and amount of material needed for the job.

Physical Strength

Carpenters use heavy tools and materials. They also must be able to stand, climb, or bend for many hours.

Problem-Solving Skills

Carpenters may work independently with little guidance. They need to be able to modify building materials and make adjustments onsite to complete projects.

Interpersonal Skills

Carpenters need to work as a member of a team, cooperating with and assisting others. They also may interact with customers.

Reading Comprehension Skills

Carpenters need advanced reading ability to understand and follow complex instructions for installing products.

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