Important Job Skills for Carpenters

Carpenter at her tool bench
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Population growth around the world has created a demand for trade and construction skills. Among those valuable trade skills are carpentry skills.

In addition to the construction of new homes, which will require many new workers, the construction of factories and power plants is also expected to result in additional job opportunities for carpenters.

What Does a Carpenter Do?

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks, including walls, floors, door frames, and other structures made from wood and other materials. Their job responsibilities include:

  • Following blueprints and building plans
  • Installing structures and fixtures
  • Measuring, cutting, and shaping wood, plastic, and other materials
  • Constructing building frameworks, including walls, floors, and doorframes
  • Repairing damaged framework or other structures and fixtures

Carpenter Education Requirements

While some carpenters have college degrees, a degree isn’t required for carpentry jobs. Some community colleges and technical schools offer associate’s degrees in carpentry, but the typical requirement is a high school diploma.

Having a high school degree ensures that you have the basic math and communication skills needed to get started in the trade. One of the most common ways to enter the field is through a formal trade apprenticeship program.

Carpenter Salary and Job Outlook

Median Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for carpenters was $46,590 in May 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $28,860, and the highest 10% earned more than $82,750.

Employment Outlook

The job outlook for carpenters is strong. Employment is expected to increase by 8% between 2018 and 2028, which is higher than the national average of 5% for all occupations.

What Kind of Skills Do You Need to be a Carpenter?

Carpenters construct and repair building structures, including door frames and stairways, that are made from wood and other materials. They also install household items such as cabinets, drywall, and siding.

Carpenters have a variety of skills. Some even specialize in particular tasks, including insulating buildings or designing kitchen cabinets. Carpentry exists within various forms of construction contracting, including residential, commercial, and industrial construction.

Types of Carpentry Skills

Mechanical 

Carpenters utilize mechanical skills to work with a variety of tools and machines. These might include ladders, electronic levels, and rotary tools such as power saws. Carpenters must be comfortable operating, maintaining, and occasionally repairing these types of tools.

  • Power Tools
  • Hand Tools
  • Cabinet Building
  • Drilling
  • Framing
  • Furniture Making
  • Insulation
  • Paneling
  • Sanding
  • Sawing
  • Trimming
  • Woodworking

Math

Carpenters require math skills in order to accurately measure materials that need to be cut and installed. They also use their math skills to plan projects. This might include reading blueprints and making measurements as well as calculating costs to make sure a project comes in under budget. Frequently used math skills include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and even calculus and statistics.

  • Budgeting
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Estimates
  • Marking
  • Measuring

Detail Orientation

Carpenters must be very precise in their work. They have to measure distances and the size of items exactly when installing household items. An eye for detail helps with making measurements and fitting structures.

  • Building Codes
  • Building Plans
  • Cutting
  • Finishing
  • Installation
  • Quality Control
  • Reading Blueprints

Critical Thinking

Carpenters must be able to problem-solve when issues arise in a project. Often, projects run longer than expected. Other times, errors occur, such as materials arriving late or in the wrong size. Carpenters have to think critically to solve these issues. With strong critical thinking skills, carpenters can use logic not only to solve problems but also to anticipate them.

Physical Strength

Physical strength is critical since carpenters lift and wield heavy tools and materials, including lumber (which can be quite heavy). They also need physical stamina. Most jobs require standing, climbing, lifting objects, and/or bending down for long periods at a time.

  • Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Maintenance
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Nailing
  • Painting
  • Rigging

Communication

Communication is a useful soft skill for carpenters. They should be able to communicate effectively with clients, as well as listen carefully so that they can understand what the client requires. They also need to be able to explain complex technical issues in terms non-carpenters will understand. Customers appreciate a carpenter who listens to their needs and explains things clearly and kindly.

More Carpentry Skills

  • Appliance Installation
  • Building Housing Additions
  • Building House Foundations
  • General Construction
  • Zoning Laws
  • Adherence to Safety Procedures
  • Compliance
  • Trade Licensing
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Mobile Devices
  • Precision
  • Assembling
  • Demolition
  • Spirit Level
  • Chiseling
  • Troubleshooting
  • Flooring
  • Refinishing
  • Remodeling
  • Renovation
  • Repairs
  • Restoration
  • Rough to Finish
  • Wood Quality
  • Versatility
  • Deck Planning
  • Deck Construction
  • Roofing

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

  • Include Skills in Your Job Application Materials: Hiring managers are going to give greater consideration to job candidates whose applications “fit” the requirements of their job announcement most closely.
  • Mention Your Education: If you’ve participated in an apprenticeship program, attended a trade school or community college, or have other formal education, mention it in your applications and interviews.
  • Share Your Skills in Your Job Interview:To position your job application for success, try to mention and provide specific examples of your expertise in these carpentry skills during your interview.

Article Sources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Carpenters." Accessed April 14, 2020.

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "How to Become a Carpenter." Accessed April 14, 2020.

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Carpenters Pay." Accessed April 14, 2020.

  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Carpenters Job Outlook." Accessed April 14, 2020.

  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "What Carpenters Do." Accessed April 14, 2020.

  6. O*Net OnLine. "Construction Carpenters." Accessed April 14, 2020.