How to become a carpenter

Job description: what does a carpenter do?

Carpentry is a very diverse and creative profession that involves creating different types of wooden structures. Carpenters are also used for the renovation and repair of structures and parts of structures.

One of the tasks of a carpenter is, first of all, to manufacture the required building elements according to a plan, also known as joinery. Tools such as hand saws, chainsaws, drills, planes, and milling machines are used. But “colleague computer” has long since found its way into this profession: new machines enable components to be cut to size remarkably quickly and precisely.

Carpenters build cladding, roof trusses, carports, and even entire wooden houses. The finished components are usually laid out and assembled on-site, for example, at the construction site. The precision instruments, carpenter’s squares, plumb bob, and spirit level ensure a perfect fit. Before the actual construction work, the construction of a scaffold, the hanging of protective nets, and pulley blocks’ attachment may occur. When a building or part of a building needs to be repaired, so-called bracing is first installed, which transfers a load of a roof onto the structure.

The cladding of facades and the interior work are also part of the job of a carpenter. He/she builds attics, sets skylights and dormers, builds roof cladding, wooden ceilings, floors, and stairs. To save time and money, more and more builders are relying on drywall for non-load-bearing walls. For this purpose, a stud frame made of wooden beams or metal is clad with plastic, plasterboard, mineral fiber, and similar materials.

The cavity between the outer and inner walls is filled with insulating material to avoid heat loss. Also, carpenters ensure compliance with fire protection regulations by applying fire-resistant paints and installing fire protection insulation.

In times of rising energy prices, older buildings, in particular, require energy-efficient renovation. This means the insulation of roofs, attics, cellar ceilings, etc. The restoration of historical facades and cultural monuments is also one of the areas of activity of a carpenter. A specialization for carpenters who love the creative side of their profession is stage construction at the theater.

Average salary: how much does a carpenter make

Carpenters in the United States make an average salary of $42,800 per year or $21 per hour. The lowest earned less than $34,500, and the highest earned more than $53,400.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Carpenter responsibilities and requirements

The carpenter’s profession does not in itself require any specific educational background. Most employers, however, prefer applicants who have at least a secondary school diploma. Some even expect an intermediate level of education. Mathematical knowledge, especially the mastery of basic arithmetic operations, and knowledge of physics (statics) should generally be available. Knowledge and skills in technical drawing, manual dexterity, and a careful way of working, excellent spatial and visual imagination, as well as good eye-hand coordination, are also an advantage.

If you want to work as a carpenter, you enjoy working with wood and working with modern technology or modern machines. Specializing in the restoration of historical buildings and parts of buildings faithful to the original requires knowledge of old wood processing techniques.

The following physical requirements are expected of carpenters: strength and resilience, perfect body control, and good eyesight. Physical fitness is also a must for carpenters. Since they are often outdoors and are exposed to a wide variety of weather conditions, their job requires an intact defense. The hard work that they often have to do requires a healthy cardiovascular system. An independent way of working, reliability, and discipline, and the ability to work in a team are necessary soft skills.

To avoid accidents, carpenters should have a pronounced awareness of dangers and safety risks for themselves, their colleagues, and outsiders, e.g., passers-by. They should be familiar with the applicable safety regulations. Many employers expect their employees to be flexible, highly mobile, and willing to work overtime because the construction site may be a long way away from operations. The work often has to be finished by a specific date.

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