Carpenter career path


If you are thinking of becoming a carpenter, it is a good idea to go to carpentry school, where you will learn all the skills you will need to have at construction sites. But what exactly will your job be like once you graduate?

Your Responsibilities

Carpenters are responsible for both building new structures and repairing existing ones. They might repair stairways or door frames, or work with rafters or partitions. Or, they might be hired to follow blueprints and build an entire home or commercial structure from scratch. They might also be hired to remodel homes by updating kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, or floors. If you become a carpenter, your will be responsible for following blueprints and directions according to the needs of your client, installing aspects of a home such as molding or windows, and measuring and cutting a variety of materials, such as plastic or wood. If you take on the task of building an entire house you will first have to construct the frame and measure places for doors, windows, and different types of floor. You might use cranes or other rigging hardware to help you erect the basic structure of large buildings. If you are hired to fix something on an existing house, you might have to replace damaged framework, redo drywall, or install new insulation. Once you have been a carpenter for a while, you might be responsible for directing and managing other laborers. You will have to know how to work with a variety of tools, such as those that cut fiberglass, drywall, plastic, and wood. You might use chisels, levels, squares, sanders, nail guns, circular saws, and/or welding machines. You will also use screws, nails, adhesives, and staples and will check and double check your work using a measuring tape.

Different Types of Carpenters

After you have learned the basics of carpentry, you may choose to specialize in a certain area. For instance, you could become a residential carpenter and focus mainly on building and remodeling homes, condominiums, and townhomes. You will install frames and drywall, finish roofs and decks, and do touchups on crown molding and cabinets. Or, you could become a commercial carpenter and work on buildings such as offices, hotels, schools, hospitals, and shopping malls. You might do steel framing for interior partitions or work on exterior framing. You could also work with concrete forming systems or work on walls and ceilings. There is a lot of overlap between the duties of residential and commercial carpenters. Your other option is to become an industrial carpenter. In this case you would work in industrial and civil settings, where you will build scaffolding and pour concrete. You might also work on tunnels and underground passageways in mines, or work on dams, tunnels, sewers, bridges, or power plants.

Work Environment

Most carpenters work in residential building construction, and slightly smaller amounts work on nonresidential construction or for building finishing contractors. A small percentage work for foundation, structure, and exterior construction contractors. About 36% of carpenters are self-employed. Practically all carpenters work full-time, and many work evenings and weekends. You may be expected to work overtime toward the end of projects to meet deadlines.


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