Carpenters build a variety of items and structures from wood and other materials. A carpenter employed under a special construction contractor will likely specialize in only one type of task, such as building framing, whereas a carpenter working under a general building contractor usually works on multiple tasks, such as installing cabinets and windows. Self-employed carpenters can be proficient in virtually any type of carpentry, picking and choosing tasks as they please. Before a carpenter is considered fully trained, he will have to work under a full-fledged carpenter, or journeyman, in an apprenticeship. In May 2008, the median 50 percent of carpenters earned between $14.42 and $25.37, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Educational Background Required for Apprentice Carpentry
Apprentice carpenters must undergo a certain length of training, both academic and on the job, before achieving journeyman status. This training can be up to approximately four years, according to SAIT Polytechnic. During this time, roughly 80 percent of the apprentice's training is on the job and 20 percent is academic. The training is generally registered through the local carpentry apprenticeship branch and arranged through a nearby post-secondary school, so that the results of the training can be tracked properly and graded.
Working as an Apprentice Carpenter
Aspiring carpenters working as an apprentice for a journeyman carpenter are taught a variety of common carpentry tasks and techniques, including framing, concrete form building, and finishing. Until an apprentice gains finesse and sufficient experience, he will likely be asked to complete rough outside work, with delicate techniques like cabinetry coming later. The exact details of an apprentice carpenter's experience depend upon the type of journeyman he is trained under.
Entry-Level and Best in Field Earnings as an Apprentice Carpenter
In May 2008, the lowest-earning 10 percent of carpenters earned below $11.66 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau tracks apprentice carpenter wages together with full-fledged carpenter statistics, so it is likely that the lowest-earning carpenters are either apprentices or full-fledged carpenters just entering the workforce. By the time an apprentice has been working under a journeyman for the full term of his apprenticeship, his wage will likely be considerably higher to reflect his skill level. The highest-earning 10 percent of carpenters earned above $33.34 an hour in May 2008.
Other Factors Affecting Salaries for Apprentice Carpenters
Apprentice carpenters will find it easier to find an apprenticeship in a location with booming construction. In the U.S., many areas with a healthy construction market have a construction workforce primarily made up of Spanish speakers. In these areas, aspiring carpenters seeking a journeyman to train under may benefit from learning rudimentary Spanish to aid the learning experience.
2016 Salary Information for Carpenters
Carpenters earned a median annual salary of $43,600 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, carpenters earned a 25th percentile salary of $33,770, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $58,700, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,025,600 people were employed in the U.S. as carpenters.
- carpenter image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com