What Is a Carpenter? And How To Become One

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Carpenters are highly skilled professionals who craft, build, install and repair structures. Often they work in construction or home furnishings. If carpentry is a trade you are interested in pursuing, it is helpful to learn about a carpenter's career path and what to expect from this type of work. In this article, we will discuss what a carpenter is and how to become one and explore the salary and work environment for carpenters.

What is a carpenter?

A carpenter is a craftworker who constructs, installs and repairs frameworks of wood and other building materials such as brick and concrete. They can work on a variety of projects, from buildings and bridges to kitchen tables. Carpenters often specialise in making a certain type of structure. For example, some build and install cabinets, while others work in the restoration of older architecture, and many work in building skeletal frames for buildings.

What are the job duties of a carpenter?

The primary job duty of a carpenter is to create structures from wood. Their work relies on collaboration with clients and other craftworkers to produce a finished product. Other job responsibilities include:

  • Designing blueprints of frameworks

  • Cutting and shaping building materials

  • Inspecting building materials to ensure there are no defects

  • Installing structures

  • Using cranes and other machines to place frameworks for buildings and large structures

  • Communicating with construction workers to collaborate on building projects

  • Meeting with clients to review project plans

  • Educating clients of building materials

  • Repairing frameworks and structures

What are carpenter skills?

Carpenters are physical labourers, and they require these skills:

Stamina

Physical endurance helps carpenters lift heavy materials and use power tools. Carpenters may also need to stand for long periods while constructing a structure. Stamina is a skill that also enables them to work in various types of weather.

Dexterity

Carpenters work with their hands and require good hand-eye coordination. Dexterity helps them use tools with ease and work quickly even on projects with detail. This ability helps create beautiful structures such as cabinets and wardrobes.

Mathematical skills

Math skills are important for performing calculations and measuring building materials to fit blueprint specifications. Sometimes a carpenter needs to do quick math for calculations on the job site. Math skills are also helpful to determine the amount of material a project requires.

Problem resolution

The ability to troubleshoot and create solutions to issues that occur during the building process is useful to carpenters. Problem resolution can help meet client requests, correct mistakes and craft unique work. Problem-solving skills also help carpenters make adjustments while they work to manage situations such as weather or lack of resources.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills can foster relationships and help a carpenter grow the customer base and business. On larger-scale projects, interpersonal skills are necessary to facilitate collaboration with the construction crew. Abilities such as dependability, emotional intelligence and communication can strengthen credibility and lead to a successful career.

Communication

Strong communication skills are essential to carpenters because they speak with clients and labourers every day in order to perform their job. Communication with the client is important to ensure the carpenter can meet expectations. Carpenters also need to communicate effectively with coworkers to complete building tasks, such as laying foundations or installing large frameworks.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is an important skill needed to ensure that a carpenter's work is accurate. In order for the materials to fit together, a carpenter has to make the correct measurements and cuts of their material. Attention to detail also helps follow protocol and adhere to building regulations as well as the desires of the client.

Types of carpentry

There are several specialities of carpentry that you can pursue. Here are types of carpentry and the work each entails:

Rough carpentry

Rough carpentry is a carpenter who works on structures such as buildings and bridges rather than in-home structures. Rough carpenters may plan and install structures for repairs or the initial building of the project. They build frames, fit rafters or poles together and cut and shape materials. Carpenters who do rough carpentry need to understand structural integrity and how to build structures that are cost-efficient. This is the most common type of carpentry.

Trim carpentry

Trim carpenters build and install trim and moulding to interior buildings. They may also craft other decorative pieces such as mantles, cornices, baseboards, and door frames. Trim carpenters can further specialise based on the type of material they prefer to use in their work. For example, green carpenters source their building materials using environmentally friendly methods, such as reducing waste.

Cabinet carpentry

Cabinet carpentry is a subcategory for carpenters who build cabinets and shelves. These carpenters work only with wood and typically build for private clients and their homes. They also create home furnishings such as tables, chairs, stools and bed frames.

Ship carpentry

Ship carpentry is the art of planning and building boats and ships. Usually, a ship carpenter creates a small replica of a ship for the approval of a client. Then they build the framework of the ship and help to give the vessel unique features. Ship carpenters can also make a career of building and selling miniature replicas of well-known ships.

Joister carpentry

Joister carpentry involves constructing floor joists, which are support structures to hold the floor and provide durability and stability. Often they also install floors over their joists. Most joisters work with wooden floors, but some may also create structures for different flooring materials.

Framing carpentry

Framing carpentry involves building housing frames and frameworks for commercial buildings. Framer carpenters are like rough carpenters, but are often contract workers and specialise in building frames. They build walls, floor joists and roofs for houses.

Roof carpentry

Roof carpentry is a speciality for carpenters who plan, build and install rafters and support beams for roofing. They also provide maintenance to roofs. This job requires knowledge of which materials to use to ensure a strong and durable structure.

What is the salary of a carpenter?

Carpenters averagely earn ₹2,52,439 per year. Your salary may differ depending on which city you live in and the company at which you work. Some carpenters work for construction companies while others choose to start their own business. Both can be profitable. The hours you work also affect your earnings. Carpenters have the option of working full-time or part-time. If you are highly skilled and have multiple years of experience, you might negotiate a higher salary.

Related: Salary Negotiation Tips and Examples

What is a carpenter's work environment?

A carpenter's work environment can vary depending on the type of carpentry they do. Work hours are variable, but typically they work during the day. Carpenters have full-time hours working both weekdays and weekends. This career requires that they work indoors and outdoors, which depends on the project. Carpenters also work in private homes, businesses, schools, healthcare facilities and outdoor areas.

Sometimes carpenters must work in any weather unless it is dangerous to do so, such as in a storm. Physical stamina is important because carpenters spend most of their day on their feet, and their work may require them to climb, squat or crawl. Carpenters require knowledge to use power tools like nail guns, welding machines, sanders and saws. While working, it is important to wear hard hats and safety glasses to protect themselves.

How do you become a carpenter?

If carpentry is an interesting career for you, follow these four steps:

1. Pass 8th standard

To become a carpenter, students need to pass class eight at a minimum. A high school diploma is not a requirement because carpentry is a skill-based career. After completing class 8, students can pursue courses to learn about carpentry and develop skills.

Some universities may require passing class ten. When considering carpentry programmes, be sure to check the requirements for admittance.

2. Take the entrance exam

Students must also pass an entrance exam to gain admittance to the carpentry programme. This exam helps ensure the student is prepared for the coursework. It tests aptitude in reading and mathematics.

3. Complete ITI Carpenter programme

After meeting educational requirements, you can start courses at an Industrial Training Institute (ITI), which are secondary schools that offer courses for a variety of trades, including carpentry. The duration of this programme is two years, during which students learn to cut, shape and install building materials. They learn construction protocols and building regulations.

An ITI carpenter programme also teaches students of the employment options for after they complete the programme. They also learn about job scopes and types of carpenters they may become, such as renovation carpenters or journeyman carpenters.

Related: Vocational Training: Definition, Types and Examples

4. Become certified in the trade

When students complete the carpentry course, they receive a National Trade Certificate (NTC). With this certification, they can pursue a career. As a carpenter, it is common to start in an apprenticeship to gain hands-on experience. This also provides an opportunity to further develop skills with the help of a professional.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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