It’s great to be in this industry, but to get there, you have to work hard.
Your training will be done by local experts through an “apprenticeship” program.

What is a Carpenter?

Look around you. Carpenters are responsible at least in part, for creating just about every building in your community. Homes, schools, malls, and office buildings are built from scratch through the skills and experience of professional carpenters. To be a carpenter is to be a member of one of the oldest and most respected trades in the world. If you enjoy working with tools, like to see your work produce immediate results and if you have a good work ethic, you can build a lifetime career in carpentry.

What Types of Jobs Are Done by Carpenters?

Carpenters measure, saw, level, and nail woods and other building materials. Insulation, acoustical ceilings, cabinets, siding, and much more. They work with many tools and materials to build houses, schools, churches, and hotels. They erect skyscrapers, hospitals, office buildings, and prisons, and construct bridges, tunnels, and highways. Carpenters make up the largest single group of skilled workers in the country.

What Type of Hours and Working Conditions Are Involved?

A typical carpenter’s workday lasts eight hours, starting on the job site before daybreak. Much of the work is outdoors, but modern construction methods have erased the problems of extreme heat or freezing temperatures. Attention to safety and health is stressed all the time, because of the machinery, tools, materials, and equipment used in this trade. Carpenters wear a hard hat, durable work clothes, and safety shoes. Carpenters are paid by the hour and as union members, they get time-and-a-half or double time for all work over eight hours. Apprentices often start out on a job by helping to build concrete forms, cutting sheets of drywall, and performing other beginning tasks. As they gain experience, they move into more complicated jobs.

How Do I Become a Professional Carpenter?

It’s great to be in this industry, but to get there, you have to work hard. Your training will be done by local experts through an “apprenticeship” program. To make sure your training is the best in the country, a group of experienced contractors and union representatives make sure you get the right instruction and earn a good wage at the same time. To start, call your local carpenter’s union office to get more information. Ask them how to become an “Apprentice” in the carpentry program.

Does My High School Course Work Matter?

You can get a head start on becoming a carpenter by studying math and enrolling in shop work in your school. Classes in industrial arts and mechanical drawing will help you decide whether or not you have an interest in this trade.

What Is an Apprentice?

An apprentice is someone who is in the process of becoming a skilled carpenter through training and experience. Apprentices are earning a good income and learning a trade, all at once. Apprentices study both in the classroom and on the job under the guidance of skilled workers of that trade called a journeyman. From the first day of your apprenticeship, you are paid a wage and start to earn benefits. You also get regular raises, usually every six months, until you reach the full journeyman scale at the end of the apprenticeship program. In most cases, the length of your apprenticeship is four years, and your training is free.

What Makes This Opportunity So Special?

The rewards of apprenticeship training are the good wages and benefits you receive as a skilled craftsperson. Union carpenters belong to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and benefit from the security of being professional tradesmen. You will be working for a union contractor under the protection of a union contract, which means you will probably have some form of health and pension benefits. It pays to be the best you can be: an apprentice-trained professional carpenter.


Professional carpenters are members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, a proud organization with more than 500,000 members.

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