A degree is not necessary to become a carpenter. However, with technology advancing and more specialized work required on many job sites, technical schools and community colleges have started to offer programs in carpentry. What is the advantage of getting a carpentry degree and what can you expect to learn in a carpentry program?
There is a direct correlation between the amount of education a person has and his or her lifetime earnings potential. For this reason, many people choose to earn at least an associate’s degree. For carpenters, having a degree may open up certain job opportunities that would not be possible without it. This is especially true for carpenters who may one day wish to own and operate their own general contracting businesses.
There are two main types of associate’s degrees in this field: carpentry degrees and construction technology degrees with a concentration in carpentry. The programs are very similar, with the main difference being the emphasis on technology.
Students in carpentry programs study topics including foundations of construction, how to read blueprints, understanding building codes, technical mathematics, and various aspects of the construction industry. They may also study other construction trades, like plumbing, welding, and electrical wiring. Carpenters who wish to become general or independent contractors are advised to learn as much as possible about these other trades. Students who choose to study construction technology take many of the same courses, but also learn more about using technology and computers on the job site, for example, for computer-aided drafting. Both types of programs offer plenty of hands-on opportunities for students to practice their skills. It generally takes two years to complete an associate’s degree.
For both carpentry and construction technology, many schools also offer certificate programs. These are often one-year programs for students who are not interested in earning a full degree. Unlike degrees, they don’t usually require students to take general education courses, for example, English and science.
Note that getting a degree is not a replacement for completing an apprenticeship program. The only way to master the trade is to learn from qualified carpenters while working on actual jobs. Some schools offer degree programs that are integrated with apprenticeship programs, so you can earn your degree and get your on-the-job training at the same time. In addition, the credits you earn during your apprenticeship may count toward your degree.
So, should you get a degree in carpentry? The answer to that question depends on your career goals. If you plan to work for a contractor, a degree is probably not necessary. However, if you want to become a contractor or pursue specialized work, a degree can give you the knowledge and experience you need to advance your career.
Laney College. Carpentry degree.
City College—Montana State University, Billings. Construction technology—carpentry