Carpenters are multitasking, manual artists, whose biggest instruments are their hands and creativity. They create and repair structures with raw wooden materials or lightweight steel using hand and power tools. Carpenters’ ability for calibrating, controlling, and operating a wide variety of machinery allows them to build or modify any kind of wooden object, from key architectural components, like bearing walls, doors, or windows, to more decorative ones, like moldings and trims.
All Carpenters work closely with Construction Managers, even the ones that are self-employed. They do so to ensure all aspects of the project are completed as per established protocols; focusing on quality, cost control, consistency, and safety. Carpenters are also required to work with all levels of maintenance, production, engineering, and other outside services.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Carpenters are required to complete.
- Determining and calculating requirements after studying the necessary designs (e.g. drawings, blueprints, or sketches):
- Measuring, estimating, selecting, and requisitioning the right materials;
- calculating height, width, length, and other proportions; and
- planning out the necessary steps to carry out the designs.
- Building, maintaining, repairing, or demolishing wooden structures and frameworks in industrial and residential establishments, using hand and power tools:
- Cutting, sanding, carving or molding, and assembling different materials (e.g. wood, wood substitutes, and lightweight steel);
- installing anchor bolts and embedded steel prior to pouring concrete footings, foundations, walls, columns, slabs, and beams;
- erecting temporary divisions and structures (e.g. scaffolding), as well as permanent ones (e.g. walls, floors, and roofs);
- identifying and replacing any framework or fixture that is in poor condition, broken, or that can’t support the structure; and
- assembling and installing finish carpentry items, such as doors and windows, along with moldings, trims, shelves, and cabinets.
- Assisting the Construction Manager in the coordination of on-site activities.
- Picking up debris and cleaning up throughout the project and after finishing a job:
- Making sure all tools, equipment, and materials are properly stored and put away; and
- dismantling scaffolding and temporary divisions, as required.
- Preparing estimates, tenders, and invoices:
- Analyzing, collecting, calculating, and comparing data.
- Reading blueprints, planning calculations, and preparing layouts.
- Building, installing, and repairing structures and components of structures made of raw materials.
- Demolishing structures and their components as required.
- Removing debris to avoid workplace accidents.
The average Carpenter salary in USA is $41,283 per year or $21 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $29,000 while most experienced workers make up to $58,000. These results are based on 2,232 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Interpersonal, communication, and customer service skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with clients and colleagues, using a non-technical language as required.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to manage time efficiently while managing a high volume of work; and
- multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
- Analytical skills and a strong sense of logic:
- Approaching tasks in a reliable and resourceful manner; and
- being able to calculate areas and to relate calculations to required material.
- Exceptional attention to detail.
- Ability to work independently with minimal supervision.
- Continual focus on safety, cost control, and client satisfaction:
- Wearing hearing protection to protect workers from excessive noise, especially when working in factories around noisy machinery; and
- wearing anti-dust respirator masks, steel-toed work boots, helmets, glasses, and ear protection, as well as any other safety equipment.
- Manual dexterity, motor coordination, and physical strength:
- Displaying good hand skills with a high regard for neat workmanship;
- being able to move around construction sites and to lift or carry objects weighing up to 50 pounds;
- being able to stand, crouch, kneel, and crawl for long periods of time; and
- being able to climb ladders and being comfortable working at heights.
Most Carpenter positions require a minimum of 2 to 5 years of work experience, while some others require up to 10 years.
Carpenters in the United States have the possibility of being part of an apprenticeship program that will give them all the necessary tools and knowledge to become a professional in this field. This program can last from 3 to 4 years, and it includes all the information regarding building and safety codes.
Additional certificates are usually preferred, including, but not limited to, the following:
- First Aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training;
- Hazard Communication Standard program (HCS) training from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); and
- Confined Spaces Certification.
It is highly advisable for Carpenters to be proficient in both rough carpentry (e.g. framing, stairs, and board ups) and finish carpentry (e.g. casing, baseboards, cabinetry, closet shelving, doors, and windows). Prior rigging knowledge and experience in the use of concrete pumps, concrete placement/finishing, and rebar installation are definite assets.
Finally, Carpenters must be able to work flexible schedules, including weekends, as well as working outdoors in all weather conditions. They also need a valid driver’s license and a good driving record, as well as a reliable mean of transportation, in order to get themselves and their tools to job sites within their designated area.