Quick Facts: Carpenters
2017 Median Pay $45,170 per year 
$21.71 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Apprenticeship
Number of Jobs, 2016 1,025,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 83,800

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Carpentry Career, Salary and Education Information

What carpenters Do

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials. They follow blueprints and building plans to meet the needs of clients. Install structures and fixtures, such as windows and molding. Measure, cut, or shape wood, plastic, and other materials. Construct building frameworks, including walls, floors, and door-frames.



Duties of Carpenters

Carpenters typically do the following:

  • Follow blueprints and building plans to meet the needs of clients

  • Install structures and fixtures, such as windows and molding

  • Measure, cut, and shape wood, plastic, and other materials

  • Construct building frameworks, including walls, floors, and doorframes

  • Erect, level, and install building framework with the aid of rigging hardware and cranes

  • Inspect and replace damaged framework or other structures and fixtures

  • Instruct and direct laborers and other construction helpers

Carpenters are a versatile occupation in the construction industry, with workers usually doing many different tasks. For example, some carpenters insulate office buildings and others install drywall or kitchen cabinets in homes. Those who help construct tall buildings or bridges often install wooden concrete forms for cement footings or pillars and are commonly referred to as rough carpenters. Rough carpenters also erect shoring and scaffolding for buildings.

Carpenters use many different tools to cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall. They commonly use hand tools, including squares, levels, and chisels, as well as many power tools, such as sanders, circular saws, nail guns, and welding machines.

Carpenters fasten materials together with nails, screws, staples, and adhesives, and check their work to ensure that it is precisely completed. They use tape measures on nearly every project to quickly measure distances. Many employers require applicants to supply their own tools.

Work Environment for Carpenters

Carpenters held about 1.0 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of carpenters were as follows:

Self-employed workers: 33%

Residential building construction: 21%

Nonresidential building construction: 12%

Building finishing contractors: 11%

Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors: 9%

Carpenters work indoors and outdoors on many types of construction projects, from building highways and bridges to installing kitchen cabinets. Carpenters may work in cramped spaces. They frequently shift between lifting, standing, and kneeling, the result of which can be tiring. Those who work outdoors are subject to variable weather conditions, which may limit a carpenter’s ability to work.

Work Schedules for carpenters

Most carpenters work full time, which may include working evenings and weekends. Extreme temperatures or inclement weather can adversely impact building construction timelines, in which case carpenters’ work hours may be affected.

How to Become a carpenter

Carpenters typically learn on the job and through apprenticeships. An apprentice carpenter works under the supervision of an experienced carpenter, learning necessary skills through on-the-job training. This training covers blueprint reading, fundamental carpentry skills, mathematics, and construction safety.


A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. High school courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and general vocational technical training are considered useful. Some technical schools offer associate’s degrees in carpentry. The programs vary in length and teach basics and specialties in carpentry.

Carpenters typically learn on the job and through apprenticeships and learn the proper use of hand and power tools on the job. They often begin doing simpler tasks under the guidance of experienced carpenters. For example, they start with measuring and cutting wood, and learn to do more complex tasks, such as reading blueprints and building wooden structures.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations 

Many carpenters need a driver’s license or reliable transportation, since their work is done on job sites. Carpenters do not need certification for the job. However, there are certificate programs that teach basics for carpenters interested in completing an apprenticeship, such as the Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) offered by the Home Builders Institute. Other programs offer certifications by specialty. 


Carpenters are involved in many phases of construction and may have opportunities to become first-line supervisors, independent contractors, or general construction supervisors.

Important Qualities 

Business skills. Self-employed carpenters must bid on new jobs, track inventory, and plan work assignments.

Detail oriented. Carpenters make precise cuts, measurements, and modifications. For example, properly installing windows and frames provides greater insulation to buildings.

Dexterity. Carpenters use many tools and need hand-eye coordination to avoid injury or damaging materials. For example, incorrectly striking a nail with a hammer may cause damage to the nail, wood, or oneself.

Math skills. Carpenters frequently use basic math skills to calculate area, precisely cut material, and determine the amount of material needed to complete the job.

Physical strength. Carpenters use heavy tools and materials that can weigh up to 100 pounds. Carpenters also need physical endurance; they frequently stand, climb, or bend for many hours.

Problem-solving skills. Carpenters may need to modify building material and make adjustments onsite to complete projects. For example, if a prefabricated window that is oversized arrives at the worksite, carpenters shave the framework to make the window fit.

salaries for Carpenters

The median annual wage for carpenters was $45,170 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.  The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,790, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,350.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for carpenters in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nonresidential building construction: $49,690

Building finishing contractors: $46,440

Residential building construction: $43,660

Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors: $41,820

Most carpenters work full time, which may include working evenings and weekends. Extreme temperatures or inclement weather can adversely impact building construction, in which case carpenters’ hours may be affected.

Job Outlook for Carpenters

Employment of carpenters is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Population growth should result in more new-home construction—the largest segment employing carpenters—which will require many new workers. The construction of factories and power plants is also expected to result in some new job opportunities in the next ten years.

Job Prospects for carpenters

Overall job prospects for carpenters should be good over the coming decade as construction activity continues to grow. Prospective carpenters with a basic set of carpentry tools will have better prospects.

Employment projections data for Carpentry, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 1,025,600

Projected Employment, 2026: 1,109,400

Change, 2016-2026: +8%, +83,800

Careers Related to carpentry

Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems, among other tasks.

Insulation Workers

Insulation workers, also called insulators, install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems.


Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings, using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen, and metal.

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, install, and maintain solar panel systems on rooftops or other structures.


Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates. They often combine and incorporate different materials into wood.

Construction and Building InspectorsHigh school diploma or equivalent$59,090
Construction Laborers and Helpers$33,450
Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and TapersNo formal educational credential$43,970
General Maintenance and Repair WorkersHigh school diploma or equivalent$37,670
Insulation Workers$39,930
RoofersNo formal educational credential$38,970
Solar Photovoltaic InstallersHigh school diploma or equivalent$39,490
WoodworkersHigh school diploma or equivalent$30,850
Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble SettersNo formal educational credential$40,250


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Carpenters,
on the Internet at