Bureau of Labor Statistics

Carpenters

Carpenters
Carpenters are involved in many different types of construction.
Quick Facts: Carpenters
2019 Median Pay $48,330 per year
$23.24 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Apprenticeship
Number of Jobs, 2018 1,006,500
Job Outlook, 2018-28 8% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2018-28 80,100

Summary

What Carpenters Do

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

Work Environment

Carpenters work indoors and outdoors on many types of construction projects, from installing kitchen cabinets to building highways and bridges.

How to Become a Carpenter

Carpenters typically learn on the job and through apprenticeships.

Pay

The median annual wage for carpenters was $48,330 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of carpenters is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Increased activity in homebuilding and remodeling is expected to require more carpenters.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for carpenters.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of carpenters with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about carpenters by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Carpenters Do

Carpenters
Carpenters work with different tools.

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

Duties

Carpenters typically do the following:

  • Follow blueprints and building plans to meet the needs of clients
  • Install structures and fixtures, such as windows and molding
  • Measure, cut, and shape wood, plastic, and other materials
  • Construct and install building frameworks, including walls, floors, and doorframes
  • Inspect and replace damaged framework or other structures and fixtures
  • Instruct and direct laborers and other construction helpers

Carpenters have many different tasks. Some carpenters insulate office buildings; others install drywall or kitchen cabinets in homes. Still others focus on production or commercial work to help construct tall buildings or bridges, installing wooden concrete forms for cement footings or pillars. These carpenters also erect shoring and scaffolding for buildings.

Carpenters use many different tools to cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall. They use handtools, including squares, levels, and chisels, as well as many power tools, such as sanders, circular saws, nail guns, and welding machines. On large projects, carpenters may use rigging hardware and cranes as part of the installation process. Carpenters may also use smart phones, tablets, and other personal electronic devices to assist with planning, drafting, or other calculations. 

Carpenters fasten materials with nails, screws, staples, and adhesives and check their work to ensure that it is correct. They use tape measures or laser measures on nearly every project to quickly determine distances. Many employers require carpenters to supply their own tools on the job.

The following are examples of types of carpenters:

Construction carpenters construct, install, and repair structures and fixtures of wood, plywood, and wallboard, using carpenters’ handtools and power tools.

Rough carpenters build rough wooden structures, such as concrete forms; scaffolds; tunnel, bridge, or sewer supports; and temporary frame shelters, according to sketches, blueprints, or oral instructions.

Wood flooring installers put in a variety of materials, including plank, strip, end-grain, and parquet flooring. These wood products may be nailed in place or glued down. Floor sanders and finishers may smooth the flooring onsite or it may be prefinished prior to installation.

Work Environment

Carpenters
Self-employed carpenters often work in residential construction.

Carpenters held about 1.0 million jobs in 2018. The largest employers of carpenters were as follows:

Self-employed workers 27%
Residential building construction 22
Nonresidential building construction 13
Building finishing contractors 12
Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors 10

Carpenters work indoors and outdoors on many types of construction projects, from installing kitchen cabinets to building highways and bridges. Carpenters may work in cramped spaces and frequently alternate between lifting, standing, and kneeling. Those who work outdoors are subject to variable weather, which may affect a project’s schedule.

Injuries and Illnesses

Carpenters sometimes get injured on the job, such as from strains caused by overexertion due to lifting and moving materials. Other common injuries result from falls, slips, trips, and contact with objects or equipment. Workers often wear equipment such as boots, hardhats, protective eyewear, and reflective vests as a safeguard against injuries.

Work Schedules

Most carpenters work full time, which may include evenings and weekends to meet clients’ deadlines. Extreme temperatures or inclement weather may impact building construction timelines, which in turn may affect carpenters’ work hours.

How to Become a Carpenter

Carpenters
Apprentice carpenters learn by working with more experienced coworkers.

Carpenters typically need a high school diploma and learn on the job or through apprenticeships.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to enter the occupation. Certain high school courses, such as mathematics and mechanical drawing, may be useful. Some vocational-technical schools offer associate’s degrees in carpentry. The programs vary in length and teach basics and specialties in carpentry.

Training

Carpenters typically learn on the job or through apprenticeships. They often begin doing simple tasks, such as measuring and cutting wood, under the guidance of experienced carpenters or other construction workers. They then progress to more complex tasks, such as reading blueprints and building wooden structures.

Several groups, such as unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must complete a predetermined number of hours of technical training and paid on-the-job training. Apprenticeship program requirements differ based on the type of program and by region. Apprentices learn carpentry basics, blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first aid practices. They also may receive specialized training in creating and setting concrete forms, rigging, welding, scaffold building, and working within confined workspaces. All carpenters must pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour safety course.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some carpenters work as construction laborers or helpers before becoming carpenters. Laborers and helpers learn tasks that are similar to those of carpenters.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Carpenters may need a driver’s license to travel to jobsites.

Optional programs offer certification by specialty that may allow carpenters to find additional work opportunities or lead to career advancement. For example, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry offers various levels of certification for remodeling. The National Wood Flooring Association offers certification for installers, craftsman, and master craftsman.

Advancement

Carpenters are involved in many phases of construction and may have opportunities to become first-line supervisors, lead carpenters, independent contractors, or general construction supervisors.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Self-employed carpenters must conduct activities such as bidding on new jobs, tracking inventory, and directing workers.

Detail oriented. Carpenters must be able to precisely cut, measure, and modify the materials they work with.

Dexterity. Carpenters use many tools and need hand-eye coordination to avoid injuring themselves or damaging materials.

Interpersonal skills. Carpenters need to work as a member of a team, cooperating with and assisting others. They also may interact with customers. 

Math skills. Carpenters frequently use math skills, including basic trigonometry, to calculate the area, size, and amount of material needed for the job. 

Physical strength. Carpenters use heavy tools and materials that weigh up to 100 pounds. They also must be able to stand, climb, or bend for many hours.

Problem-solving skills. Carpenters may work independently with little guidance. They need to be able to modify building materials and make adjustments onsite to complete projects.

Reading comprehension skills. Carpenters need advanced reading ability to understand and follow complex instructions for installing certain products, such as doors.

Pay

Carpenters

Median annual wages, May 2019

Carpenters

$48,330

Construction trades workers

$46,340

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

The median annual wage for carpenters was $48,330 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,170, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $84,690.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for carpenters in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nonresidential building construction $53,040
Building finishing contractors 49,440
Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors 46,850
Residential building construction 46,290

The starting pay for apprentices is less than what fully trained carpenters make. As apprentices gain experience, they receive more pay.

Most carpenters work full time, which may include evenings and weekends to meet clients’ deadlines. Extreme temperatures or inclement weather may impact building construction timelines, which in turn may affect carpenters’ hours.

Job Outlook

Carpenters

Percent change in employment, projected 2018-28

Construction trades workers

10%

Carpenters

8%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of carpenters is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Population growth should result in more home construction—one of the largest segments employing carpenters—which will require many new workers. The construction of factories and power plants is also expected to result in some job growth.

However, the increasing popularity of modular and prefabricated components and homes may limit the demand for more carpenters. Roof assemblies, bathrooms, windows, and entire buildings can be manufactured in a separate facility and then assembled onsite. Installing prefabricated components reduces a labor-intensive and time-consuming aspect of a carpenter’s job.

Job Prospects

About 116,300 openings for carpenters are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Overall job prospects for carpenters should be good as construction activity continues to increase. Prospective carpenters with a set of basic carpentry tools will have the best prospects.

Carpenters and other occupations in the construction industry are subject to periods of unemployment as building construction slows during cold months. Additionally, the number of job openings is expected to vary regionally, because different areas of the country are experiencing more development than others.

Employment projections data for carpenters, 2018-28

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Carpenters

SOC Code47-2031
Employment, 20181,006,500
Projected Employment, 20281,086,600
Percent Change, 2018-288
Numeric Change, 2018-2880,100
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of carpenters.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2019 MEDIAN PAY
Construction and building inspectors

Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

High school diploma or equivalent $60,710
Construction laborers and helpers

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

See How to Become One $36,000
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials.

No formal educational credential $47,360
General maintenance and repair workers

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,080
Insulation workers

Insulation Workers

Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings or mechanical systems.

See How to Become One $44,180
Roofers

Roofers

Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings.

No formal educational credential $42,100
solar photovoltaic installers image

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,890
Tile and marble setters

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

No formal educational credential $42,050
Woodworkers

Woodworkers

Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates.

High school diploma or equivalent $32,690

Contacts for More Info

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities in this trade, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, local contractors or firms that employ carpenters, or local union–management carpenter apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about carpenters, including training opportunities, visit

Associated Builders and Contractors

Associated General Contractors of America

Home Builders Institute

National Association of the Remodeling Industry

NCCER

National Wood Flooring Association

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Carpenters Training Fund

For more information about pre-apprenticeship training, visit

Home Builders Institute

National Building Trades Union

For information about opportunities for military veterans, visit:

Helmets to Hard Hats

O*NET

Carpenters

Construction Carpenters

Rough Carpenters

Last Modified Date: Friday, June 5, 2020

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Carpenters,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/carpenters.htm (visited July 30, 2020).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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