Carpentry is one of those trades for which demand ebbs and flows according to the economy. Fortunately, the economy is looking up. After a dip following the 2008 recession, new housing construction is expected to increase substantially over the next decade. This is great news for anyone considering entering the construction trades. It is particularly good news for trained carpenters, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in this trade to increase 24 percent through 2022. That is greater than the growth expected for the construction trades overall and more than twice the growth expected for all occupations.
There are a couple of major factors that will be driving this growth. First, new building construction will increase in general, and new home construction in particular. More factories and power plants are also anticipated to be on the way. In addition, more people are expected to undertake home remodeling projects. Carpenters in other industries will also see more job openings. For example, state and federal governments will likely increase their spending on infrastructure, meaning carpenters will be able to find work repairing and replacing bridges and roads.
Carpenters can work for governments, construction firms, and a variety of other employers. About one-third of carpenters, particularly those who specialize in new home construction, are self-employed. Because of the different work settings and employment arrangements, the annual salary for carpenters varies widely, with the median just about $40,000. The most highly trained and experienced workers can bank more than $70,000 per year.
If you are interested in becoming a carpenter and taking advantage of the many jobs that will be opening up, now is the perfect time to start training. The most common way to become a carpenter is through participating in an apprenticeship program, which combines technical training with on-the-job experience and can take three to four years to complete. However, unlike many other training programs, apprenticeships for carpentry and other construction trades are more like jobs than school, and the best part is that they are paid. Apprentice carpenters earn between 30 and 50 percent of the salary of full-fledged carpenters, with their pay increasing as they gain experience. Another option for carpentry training is to start as a carpenter’s helper; however, this route doesn’t provide the same amount of technical training. Finally, many technical schools and even some community colleges provide carpentry training programs, and some apprenticeship programs offer credits that can be counted toward an associate’s degree.
The construction trades are booming, and carpenters are expected to come out on top of the bunch. If you like to work with your hands and are interested in seeing what this field has to offer, explore the training and apprenticeship options in your area.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Carpenters. Occupational Outlook Handbook