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Master Carpenter Certification: Information and Requirements

Get information on certificate and diploma programs in carpentry. Learn about apprenticeships, courses, prerequisites and employment outlook for this field.

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Essential Information

Students seeking to formally advance their carpentry skills can take official apprenticeships through colleges and organizations or participate in unofficial apprenticeships by working for a journeyperson carpenter. The easiest way to become an official journeyperson (the highest rank of a carpenter) is to graduate from a program that has been approved by the state or the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program.

There are many basic certificates or diplomas, ranging from apprenticeships to specialized certificates in framing or construction. Requirements vary, with completion times ranging between one and four years. The amount of hands-on experience varies as well. Although these programs may give students the same skills, not all of them are official apprenticeships. Students should check to see if the school has been approved by the state or government.

Although it is not required, students should take shop and advanced math classes in high school to be prepared for working with blueprints. The ability to speak Spanish is also an advantage since many workers in the field speak Spanish, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

Program Coursework

These carpentry apprenticeship programs can take anywhere from 1-4 years for students to complete. The amount of work experience again depends on the program; some schools require 1-2 semesters of experience, while others require much more. The courses that are typically offered are introductions to most of the materials and skills used on the job, like concrete, cabinet making, estimating and construction law. Regardless of the program, students will usually take courses in the following:

  • Framing and construction
  • Foundations and concrete
  • Safety and first aid at work
  • Architectural drafting
  • Reading blueprints

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The BLS expects the employment of carpenters to rise at a rate of 20% from 2010-2020, which is faster than the average expected rate for all fields. There is an expectation that population growth and demand for remodeling will stimulate the need for carpenters; however, the increased use of prefabricated elements and components will offset some of this growth. The median hourly wage of a carpenter in May 2012 was $19.20, and carpenters held approximately one million jobs in 2010.

Continuing Education

There are no required courses or programs carpenters need to take in order to maintain their journeyperson status. Some professionals choose to pursue additional training in areas like scaffold building or pump work to increase their employment opportunities and gain a more well-rounded background.

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