High school students are often steered toward college by parents and advisors. A degree does open up many job opportunities but college is not for everyone. There are other occupations that are rewarding, pay well and require a high level of skill. Called the trades, plumbing, masonry, and electrical work are vital jobs and a good way to make a living. Included in the trades is carpentry. How does one become a carpenter? Here are five steps that can form the path.
Before starting the steps, it would be helpful to define the occupation and discuss what a carpenter does. At its most basic, carpentry involves building things out of wood. This can include houses, buildings, and other structures, bridges, forms for pouring concrete and even ships. Carpenters cut and shape wood into the parts for their projects, and then put them together and install them. A carpenter may work for a construction company such as LBR in Norway, or start their own business. Many become general contractors. It takes training and experience to be a good carpenter. Here are the steps many take.
1. Graduate High School
Everyone should have a good general education and carpenters are no different in that regard. You will need a high school diploma or GED to get into a trade school. Basic math skills, geometry and algebra can be helpful. English courses can also support the further education and training you need. There are also high schools that specialize in trades. You can earn your diploma while also getting carpentry training. This is a good option for many budding carpenters.
2. Carpenter’s Helper
Another step that can be a great start to your carpentry career is to take a job as a carpenter’s helper. You can do this while still in high school. Working with an experienced and skilled carpenter provides hands-on, on-the-job training. It’s hard to beat learning by doing, especially in the trades. You will learn how to use the tools and some of the techniques. This can be very helpful when moving on to the next step.
3. Trade School or Apprenticeship
Once you finish high school, you will need more advanced training to be a carpenter. One way to get this is to attend a trade school. The program takes 1-2 years to complete and will teach you basic to advanced skills. You can learn framing, siding, roofing, foundations and working with drywall.
Another way to learn these skills is through an apprenticeship program. You become an apprentice to an experienced carpenter. Most programs last about 4 years and some include classroom study. You may also be able to specialize in one aspect of carpentry. By actually working on the job, you can develop excellent skills.
4. Find a Job
Once your training is done, it’s time to find your first carpentry job. There are several places you can work. You may be employed by a general contractor who does many carpentry jobs. Another option is to work for a specialty contractor who does one particular aspect of carpentry. Other potential avenues of employment are government agencies, manufacturers or even retail stores. Joining a local carpenters’ union can be helpful in finding employment and sometimes getting additional training.
5. Build a Career
As you gain experience, you will want to build your career. There are many ways to advance. Taking courses in other carpentry specialties such as building scaffolds or boats can open new doors. You can get this training through a journeyman program offered by your union or attend a trade school with advanced courses. You may wish to start your own business as a general contractor.
By learning more aspects of carpentry and construction, you become a foreman or supervisor for a large construction company. Earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can be very helpful in securing a management position. New structures are always needed so you will most likely have job security and may earn a very good salary.
When planning your future career, don’t overlook the trades. They are necessary jobs that require skill and that you can be proud of. Carpentry is one of the most important of these trades. These steps show a potential path to your carpentry career.