Carpenters are professionals in the construction field who build, repair and install structures and fixtures. They work with more than just wood, such as with glass and plastic and perform tasks like drywalling. If you want to join this field but aren’t sure where to start, you’re at the right place. This guide includes tips and information you need to become a carpenter and write the best resume for the job.
Let’s start discussing the three standard resume formats.
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Job duties of a carpenter
Carpenters build and install structures and fixtures like cabinets, doors, walls, ceilings and decks. But carpenters don’t just work in residential construction; they also work in nonresidential construction, such as building bridges, roads, libraries and other infrastructures.
The following are some of the common job duties of carpenters:
Reading and interpreting blueprints and determining materials and dimensions of the work to be completed.
Installing structures and fixtures like windows, bars, wardrobes, trimming, siding and molding.
Measuring materials and marking them using pencils, pens, and chalk to cut, shape and smoothen.
Following building codes and guidelines to ensure safety.
Making woodwork like furniture, shelves, door frames, staircases and acoustic paneling.
Using tools like hammers, circular saws, power drills, table saws, tape and laser measures, and squares in building and installing structures.
Installing proper insulation in constructed buildings.
Putting up temporary construction structures like scaffolding, shoring and framework.
Inspecting, repairing, and replacing damaged structures, fixtures or furniture.
Carpenter median salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay of carpenters in 2020 was $23.81 per hour or $49,520 per year. The carpentry occupation projects little growth from 2020 to 2030, with a 2% growth rate.
Top skills for carpenters
Carpenters must develop mastery of a specific skill set to be successful. Carpentry requires extensive technical knowledge, and many of these hard skills are acquired through on-the-job training. Apprenticing with more experienced carpenters is a great way to gain these skills.
The top skills necessary to become a carpenter are:
- Attention to detail: As a carpenter, your job duties involve constructing structures and fixtures and finishing them with care. Finish carpentry refers to the task of adding finishing touches to a build, such as installing doors/windows, flooring, cabinets, crown molding, and much more. All of these elements require craftsmanship with strong attention to detail.
- Budgeting and estimation: Carpenters need to know how to generate project quotes by calculating material and labor estimates. Construction projects are costly and require strict budgeting and supervision. Project estimates are made and presented to the client to assess the build’s practicality and profit margin. Offering the best estimation and quality of work allows carpenters to win project bids against competitors. Many construction estimation apps like Connecteam and Invoice Simple auto calculate costs and perform other functions like invoice generation.
- Safety: Carpenters work with potentially hazardous tools such as electric saws, drills, nail guns and hammers. These tools can lead to serious injury if mishandled. A good carpenter needs the talent to handle these tools effectively, including proper maintenance of the equipment to maximize efficiency and increase its life span.
- Communication: In an environment where a variety of people work together, clashes and conflicts are bound to happen. To maintain a healthy workspace and ensure efficiency, you need to de-escalate and avoid disputes. Any tensions among other construction workers or yourself can lead to slowed progress and mistakes. Maintaining a cool head and dissolving competition allows for better coordination among crews and drastically lowers the risk of errors.
- Dexterity: As a carpenter, you’ll often work on small intricate parts and connections that call for precision. You should be capable of easily maneuvering and aligning various elements, including installing trimming, cabinets and hardware. Having solid hand-eye coordination is also necessary to ensure safety while performing everyday job duties such as hammering nails and cutting wood pieces to size.
- Mechanical knowledge: Carpenters rely on various tools and machines to execute their work, including power saws, drills, sanders, and more. These tools and machinery require a solid understanding of their functions and how to operate them safely. The more tools you can master, the more qualified you become for additional carpentry jobs.
Educational requirements for carpenters
As mentioned earlier, carpentry is a job that requires on-the-job training. Mentoring under an experienced carpenter is one of the best ways to build industry knowledge and skills. Novice carpenters work under senior carpenters and start by completing simple tasks such as measuring and cutting material before advancing to more complex tasks. Another option to pursue a career as a carpenter is to obtain an associate degree.
DegreeObtaining a high school diploma, a GED, or an equivalent is the minimum educational requirement to begin your carpentry career as an apprentice. If you choose not to apprentice, you can gain the necessary skills by obtaining an associate degree in carpentry. For example, the Nebraska Indian Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Carpentry. This degree equips students with the ability to work as carpenters in residential and commercial construction. Some of the subjects taught in this course are blueprint reading, building, mathematics and estimating construction costs. It is important to note that all carpenters must pass the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) 10-hour safety course.
CertificationsVarious organizations provide carpentry certifications to qualified individuals. You can obtain these certifications if you want to boost credibility or widen your clientele. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) offers a certification called Certified Lead Carpenter to carpenters with a minimum of two years of experience as a lead carpenter and five years in the remodeling industry. You can also choose to get certified by the National Wood Flooring Association (NFWA), which offers various certification programs like Certified Installer, Certified Craftsman, and Certified Master Craftsman.
Carpenter resume-writing tips
We have curated a list of resume writing tips below to help you land a job as a carpenter.
- Modify your resume before every application Every employer looks for something different in their employees. Some might pay special attention to bathroom and kitchen remodeling, while some may want a carpenter who can make repairs. Therefore, you must tweak your resume for each job application. Read the job listing closely to find the keywords for skills and experience that the employer wants. Include the keywords you find in your resume to tailor it to the specific role for which you’re applying.
- Remember that formatting is key Depending on your experience level, you may have an impressive work history and/or a well-developed skill set. Formatting your resume to highlight your best qualifications is vital. Review the three resume formats to decide which one is best for your unique experience. Use a clean template with a professional-looking font and strive to balance being descriptive and concise. In other words, make sure you include detailed descriptions of your most relevant qualifications in as little words as possible. This is important because your resume should be just one page long. On this one page you must make an impression on the employer, so be sure to include only your most qualifying information and avoid unrelated details.
- Highlight past achievements Maybe you accurately calculated quotes and material estimates for your clients, or you may have worked on multiple projects at once. If you have any quantifiable achievements, they need to be in your resume. Quantified accomplishments vouch for your skill and hard work and make your resume more engaging too. For example, use specific quantified statements like “estimated quotes with a 95% accuracy rate” instead of “consistently gave accurate estimates.”
What are the different types of carpentry?
Roughly, there are two types of carpentry work: rough and finish. Rough carpentry involves making the structural framework of a building or any other structure. It includes building walls, roofs, ceilings, and beams that adhere to clients’ local authorities' and building code’ specifications. Finish carpentry is more detailed as it is more visible than rough carpentry, like trimmings, moldings and wainscoting.
As carpentry is a construction job, what are the occupational risks involved?
Negligence of safety guidelines or lack of proper safety training can lead to injuries. Working with delicate material like glass could lead to lacerations and bone injuries due to tripping or falling. To prevent such injuries, you must always wear safety equipment, follow protocols, and repair and maintain machinery in your workplace. Following safety guidelines not only saves lives but also increases efficiency.
How do I get an apprenticeship as a carpenter if I do not want to pursue a degree?
Carpenters can learn the trade either by joining a vocational school or community college that teaches the skills or working under a carpenter. You can become an apprentice with a carpenter either by directly approaching one or searching online. There are many online apprenticeship programs for carpenters to gain on-the-job training. For example, the Carpenters Training Institute offers the Carpenter Apprenticeship Program. You need to complete 7,000 hours of on-the-job training and 640 hours of classroom learning to become a carpenter.