|Number of Jobs:||196,000|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Construction Jobs||#9|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#96|
Each day, carpenters throughout the country counter the stereotype that they’re more brawn than brain. From using basic addition and subtraction skills to calculate floor space and wall heights to applying complex trigonometric formulas to make right angle cuts, carpenters rely on more than muscle and endurance to complete their jobs well; they also culminate an expansive mathematical skill set. Joe Weisling, a carpenter of 37 years and training director for the Southeast Wisconsin Carpentry Training Center, challenges misconceptions about his profession. “There are those that feel that the construction industry has no future. There are those that believe that you have to have a size-19 neck and a size-4 hat. In other words, you’ve got to be all brawn and no brain. There are those that seem to think that it’s only a man’s world,” he says. “The construction industry has opportunities for everyone. It’s whether you choose to get involved.” Many carpenters work in the residential and nonresidential building construction industries. Others work for building finishing or foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors. Unlike cement masons who primarily pour, smooth, and finish concrete floors, sidewalks, roads, and curbs, carpenters mostly construct and repair building frameworks and structures like stairways or door frames.
The carpentry profession is projected to grow nearly 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, a rate that exceeds the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Thanks to booming population growth, the need for new-home construction is rising. And more carpenters are needed to build dwellings.
According to the BLS, carpenters earned $40,010 in 2011, or approximately $19.24 per hour. In that same period, the highest-paid earned about $71,890, while the lowest-paid earned $24,880. Areas of the industry that pay well include motion picture and video and electric power generation, transmission, and distribution. Metropolitan areas that pay well include Fairbanks, Alaska, Honolulu, and San Francisco.
After earning a high school diploma or its equivalent, prospective carpenters should complete a three- to four-year carpenter’s training program. Weisling says this is the best way for them to learn the ropes of the profession. Carpentry apprentices complete at least 144 hours of paid technical training and 2,000 hours of compensated hands-on, on-the-job training in the areas of carpentry basics, blueprint reading, mathematics, building-code requirements, safety, and first-aid practices. Prospective carpenters should research union and contractor associations in their cities or towns, as several of them sponsor apprenticeship programs. Other basic qualifications for apprenticeship program admittance include 18 years of age, being physically able to perform assigned tasks, U.S. citizenship or proof of legal residency, and successful completion of a drug test.
Because carpenters are constantly called upon to make exact measurements with heavy equipment, those interested in entering the profession must comfortably marry attention to detail with manual dexterity and mathematical prowess. Their problem-solving skills must go hand-in-hand with their stamina and physical strength. Weisling adds that they must also possess an open mind, as well as a genuine passion for the work. “We encourage individuals to define who they are and understand what a carpenter does and what the duties really are and then become as well-rounded as they can,” he says.
|Upward Mobility||Above Average|