Bureau of Labor Statistics

Carpenters

Carpenters
Carpenters are involved in many different types of construction.
Quick Facts: Carpenters
2017 Median Pay $45,170 per year
$21.71 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, 2016 1,025,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 83,800

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. Carpentry can be physically demanding, and injuries sometimes occur.

How to Become a Carpenter

Carpenters typically learn on the job and through apprenticeships.

Pay

The median annual wage for carpenters was $45,170 in May 2017.

Job Outlook

Employment of carpenters is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increased levels of new homebuilding and remodeling activity will 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 building frameworks, including walls, floors, and doorframes
  • Erect, level, and install building framework with the aid of rigging hardware and cranes
  • Inspect and replace damaged framework or other structures and fixtures
  • Instruct and direct laborers and other construction helpers

Carpenters are a versatile occupation in the construction industry, with workers usually doing many different tasks. For example, some carpenters insulate office buildings and others install drywall or kitchen cabinets in homes. Those who help construct tall buildings or bridges often install wooden concrete forms for cement footings or pillars and are commonly referred to as rough carpenters. Rough carpenters also erect shoring and scaffolding for buildings.

Carpenters use many different tools to cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall. They commonly use hand tools, including squares, levels, and chisels, as well as many power tools, such as sanders, circular saws, nail guns, and welding machines.

Carpenters fasten materials together with nails, screws, staples, and adhesives, and check their work to ensure that it is precisely completed. They use tape measures on nearly every project to quickly measure distances. Many employers require applicants to supply their own tools.

The following are examples of types of carpenters:

Construction carpenters construct, install, and repair structures and fixtures of wood, plywood, and wallboard, using carpenter’s hand tools 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.

Work Environment

Carpenters
Self-employed carpenters often work in residential construction.

Carpenters held about 1.0 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of carpenters were as follows:

Self-employed workers 33%
Residential building construction 21
Nonresidential building construction 12
Building finishing contractors 11
Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors 9

Carpenters work indoors and outdoors on many types of construction projects, from building highways and bridges to installing kitchen cabinets. Carpenters may work in cramped spaces. They frequently shift between lifting, standing, and kneeling, the result of which can be tiring. Those who work outdoors are subject to variable weather conditions, which may limit a carpenter’s ability to work.

Injuries and Illnesses

Carpenters sometimes get injured on the job. The most common injuries include strains from lifting heavy materials, falls from ladders, and cuts from sharp objects and tools. Workers often wear safety equipment such as boots, hardhats, protective eyewear, and reflective vests to protect themselves from injuries.

Work Schedules

Most carpenters work full time, which may include working evenings and weekends. Extreme temperatures or inclement weather can adversely impact building construction timelines, in which case carpenters’ work hours may be affected.

How to Become a Carpenter

Carpenters
Apprentice carpenters learn by working with more experienced coworkers.

Carpenters typically learn on the job and through apprenticeships.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. High school courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and general vocational technical training are considered useful. Some 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 and through apprenticeships and learn the proper use of hand and power tools on the job. They often begin doing simpler tasks under the guidance of experienced carpenters. For example, they start with measuring and cutting wood, and learn to do 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 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. 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- and 30-hour safety courses.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some carpenters work as construction laborers or helpers before becoming carpenters. They learn to become carpenters while working under the guidance of an experienced carpenter. Laborers and helpers learn tasks that are similar to those performed by carpenters.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many carpenters need a driver’s license or reliable transportation, since their work is done on jobsites.

Carpenters do not need certification for the job. However, there are certificate programs that teach basics for carpenters interested in completing an apprenticeship, such as the Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) offered by the Home Builders Institute. Other programs offer certifications by specialty. For example, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry offers various levels of certificates for remodeling.

Advancement

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

Important Qualities

Business skills. Self-employed carpenters must bid on new jobs, track inventory, and plan work assignments.

Detail oriented. Carpenters make precise cuts, measurements, and modifications. For example, properly installing windows and frames provides greater insulation to buildings.

Dexterity. Carpenters use many tools and need hand-eye coordination to avoid injury or damaging materials. For example, incorrectly striking a nail with a hammer may cause damage to the nail, wood, or oneself.

Math skills. Carpenters frequently use basic math skills to calculate area, precisely cut material, and determine the amount of material needed to complete the job.

Physical strength. Carpenters use heavy tools and materials that can weigh up to 100 pounds. Carpenters also need physical endurance; they frequently stand, climb, or bend for many hours.

Problem-solving skills. Carpenters may need to modify building material and make adjustments onsite to complete projects. For example, if a prefabricated window that is oversized arrives at the worksite, carpenters shave the framework to make the window fit.

Pay

Carpenters

Median annual wages, May 2017

Carpenters

$45,170

Construction trades workers

$43,490

Total, all occupations

$37,690

 

The median annual wage for carpenters was $45,170 in May 2017. 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 $27,790, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,350.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for carpenters in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nonresidential building construction $49,690
Building finishing contractors 46,440
Residential building construction 43,660
Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors 41,820

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 working evenings and weekends. Extreme temperatures or inclement weather can adversely impact building construction, in which case carpenters’ hours may be affected.

Job Outlook

Carpenters

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Construction trades workers

10%

Carpenters

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of carpenters is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Population growth should result in more new-home construction—the largest segment employing carpenters—which will require many new workers. The construction of factories and power plants is also expected to result in some new job opportunities in the next ten years.

The increasing popularity of modular and prefabricated components and homes, however, may limit the demand for more carpenters. Roof assemblies, bathrooms, windows, and even entirely prefabricated 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

Overall job prospects for carpenters should be good over the coming decade as construction activity continues to grow. Prospective carpenters with a basic set of carpentry tools will have better 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, 2016-26

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

Occupational Title

Carpenters

SOC Code47-2031
Employment, 20161,025,600
Projected Employment, 20261,109,400
Percent Change, 2016-268
Numeric Change, 2016-2683,800
Employment by Industryemployment projections excel document xlsx

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 2017 MEDIAN PAY
Construction and building inspectors

Construction and Building Inspectors

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

High school diploma or equivalent $59,090
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 $33,450
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

Drywall and 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. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

No formal educational credential $43,970
General maintenance and repair workers

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems, among other tasks.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,670
Insulation workers

Insulation Workers

Insulation workers, also called insulators, install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems.

See How to Become One $39,930
Roofers

Roofers

Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings, using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen, and metal.

No formal educational credential $38,970
solar photovoltaic installers image

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, install, and maintain solar panel systems on rooftops or other structures.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,490
Woodworkers

Woodworkers

Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates. They often combine and incorporate different materials into wood.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,850
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 $40,250
Woodworkers

Woodworkers

Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates. They often combine and incorporate different materials into wood.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,850

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.

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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

O*NET

Carpenters

Construction Carpenters

Rough Carpenters

Last Modified Date: Monday, February 25, 2019

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 March 07, 2019).

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