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a framing carpenter carrying two by four lumber Carpenters are skilled construction workers who erect, install, and repair structures made from wood and other materials.  Carpentry jobs range in scope from assisting in bridge construction to cabinet installation.  Carpenters work from blueprints and must first measure, mark, and arrange materials in accordance with local building codes.  They use chisels, planes, saws, drills, and sanders to cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall.  The material is joined with nails, screws, staples, or adhesives.  Carpenters check the accuracy of their work with levels, rules, plumb bobs, framing squares, and survey equipment.

Some carpenters are proficient in a variety of different tasks while other specialize in one or two.  Carpenters working for large construction contractors usually only perform a few regular tasks, while those employed outside the construction industry may be skilled in a variety of installation and maintenance work.

Carpentry work can be strenuous, and many carpenters work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions.  Carpenters must be able to climb, bend, kneel, and stand for long periods of time.  Knowledge of basic math, mechanical drawing, and blueprint reading are necessary skills.  Manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and physical fitness are also important.

Some carpenters learn through on the job training, while others choose to attend a vocational college or technical school.  Formal apprenticeships may also be available.  Most carpentry apprenticeships last from three to four years, but may be completed sooner upon demonstrated competency.  Apprentices learn structural design as well as layout, form building, rough framing, and outside and inside finishing.  They also learn safety, first aid, blueprint reading, freehand sketching, basic math, and carpentry techniques.  Upon completion of a formal apprenticeship program, a carpenter may become certified as a journeyperson.

Job opportunities for carpenters are expected to grow as fast as the national average, and be the best for carpenters who have received specialized training and are proficient in a wide variety of tasks.  Carpenters have excellent opportunities for advancement to general construction supervisors, especially if they are proficient in both English and Spanish.  For more information on carpentry and carpentry training opportunities, visit Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

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About Carpenters