Similar to topics we’ve previously covered (Masonry, Urban Development and Architecture), carpentry is vital to growth of a community. A community needs carpenters to build its infrastructure just as it needs masons. Carpenters are skilled in installing structures and fixtures, and constructing frameworks of buildings. If you’re interested in a career that allows you to work with your hands and be integral to the structures you see every day, read on to learn about studying Carpentry in the U.S.
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Jump to:2-Year Degree 4-Year Degree Beyond a 4-Year Degree
You can begin your career in forensic science with a high school diploma or less. Careers will You can do many things in masonry with a high school degree or less. These careers allow you to begin a career in this field with little to no experience and/or credential. You can learn more about these careers in the Vocational Training section.
Some schools have career maps to show you how you can progress from studying to working at the highest level in that career field. Click here for a career map for Building Construction from Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA). Below, you can see a career map for Construction:
A four-year degree is not needed for a career in masonry, but you can continue on to get advanced degrees to build your career. Careers in the same field that a foundation in masonry can lead to include architectural drafter, civil engineer technician, civil engineer, construction manager, landscape architect, or surveyor. These are all careers you can read about in previous blog posts: Architecture in the U.S. and Urban Development in the U.S. Courses you would take for these programs would include urban and regional planning, introduction to public and community service, city planning and community development, mapping, urban sociology, history and theory of architecture, digital architecture, architectural design, and materials & methods of construction.
In these courses, you would gain skills such as drawing and understanding blueprints, planning for environmental sustainability, financial administration, computer-based mapping, and building information modeling. If you’re interested in construction, a four-year degree can help you learn the skills to be a construction manager, self-employed carpenter, and/or own your own company.
Beyond a 4-Year Degree
To work in carpentry, a degree or credential beyond vocational training is not required. With an advanced degree like a master’s or doctorate, you would be on the path to become an architect, civil engineer, or construction manager. Advanced degrees can provide opportunities for internships, independent studies, practicums, and community-based projects.
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The following are technical routes you can take to achieve a career in carpentry:
Jump to:Apprenticeships & Internships Vocational Training
Apprenticeships & Internships
Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training and education while you work. This can look like working or volunteering with little experience but being trained to improve your skills. Not only are you learning the necessary job skills, but also the demands, hours, ways to interact with the public, procedures, and problems that usually arise on the job. This is an all-encompassing experience. Apprenticeship and internship opportunities in carpentry can be found through internet searches, networking, or through your school. These may exist at construction companies, city planning departments, and other local and national organizations. Use the Apprenticeship.gov Apprenticeship Finder site if you’re interested in applying for apprenticeships or just want to know what they look like.
If there is a business, organization, or person whose work interests you, ask them for the opportunity to intern or shadow them to learn more about the field and career. This is a great way to show your interest in the field and secure future opportunities to gain experience.
There are several occupations in the construction field that do not require a degree that would allow you to get a start in carpentry. These include carpenter helpers, construction & maintenance painters, drywall and ceiling tile installers, floor sanders and finishers, cost estimators, interior designers, riggers and roofers. These careers do not require any degrees but will require hands-on experience to learn the trade. They can also lead to high-paying opportunities from meeting the demands of the economy. The length of a vocational program is usually measured in hours to complete rather than months and then converted to the approximate equivalent in months. For example, a carpentry program is usually completed within 1200 hours, which is approximately 12 months if you are pursuing it full-time. Courses in a vocational program can include introduction to carpentry, foundation and form carpentry, rough framing carpentry, and finish trim carpentry. In this type of program, you would be learning skills of cutting, shaping, finishing, trimming, framing and installing building materials during construction; planning, management and finance; labor issues; scale drawing; building construction codes; Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards; and health, safety and environmental issues. At the end of completing your vocational training program, you would eligible to sit the state and/or national industry certification or licensure exam to be a certified carpenter.
Try not to decline unpaid opportunities especially if you have no experience. Eventually, you may become a paid worker. Through volunteering, you are gaining valuable hands-on experience that can be recorded on your résumé/CV, and you are building a network that you can lean on once you’ve elevated in your career. Ask different departments on campus about job shadowing, internship, or volunteer opportunities on campus or in the surrounding community.
You can review the Minnesota State CAREERwise website to explore careers similar to Carpentry in the Architecture and Construction career cluster. Here are more resources to learn more about careers in Carpentry:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Carpenters | Similar Occupations: Construction and Building Inspectors; Construction Laborers and Helpers; Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers; Flooring Installers and Tile and Stone Setters; General Maintenance and Repair Workers; Insulation Workers; Roofers; Woodworkers
- Professional Associations: Associated Builders and Contractors | National Association of Women in Construction | Association of Closet and Storage Professionals (ACSP) | Cabinet Makers Association | Construction Marketing Association | International Society of Furniture Designers (ISFD) | International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) | National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) | National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) | National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) | National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) | Northeastern Woodworkers Association (NWA) | Woodwork Career Alliance
- Publications: FDMC | Closets & Organized Storage | Woodworking Network | Custom Woodworking Business | Wood Products
- Free Coursera courses:
- Other Resources: Women’s Leadership Development Network | Wood Industry Resource Collaborative | The Woodworker | Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Check with your institution of interest to find out more about their admissions application, program requirements, and the best way to map out your future for studying carpentry.
Unsure about what Carpentry is? Read our explanatory post here.