Carpenters can learn their trade through programs offered by vocational training or technical schools, apprenticeships sponsored by unions, contractor associations, or state workforce associations, or schools, including community colleges, partnered with apprenticeship sponsors. Carpentry programs teach students fundamental carpentry skills, how to work with tools, and blueprint reading, and typically award a certificate or diploma. Schools partnered with apprenticeship sponsors may award a two-year associate degree in carpentry, but apprenticeships can take three to five years to complete. Carpentry apprenticeships combine classroom teaching with on-the-job training. Student apprentices learn work under the supervision of an experienced carpenter.
A small number of carpentry diploma and certificate programs are available online and may take as little as four months to complete. Coursework may include math skills, drywall techniques, the proper use of power tools, and how to install windows, doors, and insulation. Depending on the state and the vocational field, be it residential, commercial, or industrial carpentry, additional certification and licensure may be required before graduates of an online or on-campus carpentry program can begin a career as a carpenter.
Carpentry and the construction industry as a whole is dependent on the health of the nation’s economy as well as the amount of federal and state spending for repairs to existing infrastructure. Population growth and the resulting need for new housing should increase the demand for skilled carpenters. Carpenters with vocational and apprenticeship training and extensive work experience will have the best job opportunities.