Carpenters are involved in many different kinds of construction activity. They cut, fit, and assemble wood and other materials for the construction of buildings, highways, bridges, industrial plants, ships, and many other structures. Carpenters’ duties vary by type of employer. Builders increasingly are using specialty trade contractors who, in turn, hire carpenters who specialize in just one or two activities. However, a carpenter directly employed by a general building contractor often must perform a variety of tasks associated with new residential and commercial construction, such as framing walls and partitions, putting in doors and windows, building stairs, laying hardwood floors, and hanging kitchen cabinets. In addition they may construct forms and chutes for pouring concrete or erect scaffolding and ladders for assembling structures above the ground.
Because local building codes often dictate where certain materials can be used, carpenters must know these regulations. Each carpentry task is somewhat different, but most involve the same basic steps. Working from blueprints or instructions from supervisors, carpenters first must do the layout – measuring, marking, and arranging materials. They cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, drywall or other building materials using hand and power tools, such as chisels, planes, saws, and sanders. They join the materials with nails, screws, staples, or adhesives. In the final step, carpenters check the accuracy of their work with levels, rules, plumb bobs, and framing squares, and make any necessary adjustments. When working with prefabricated components, the carpenter’s task is somewhat simpler than the above, because it does not require as much cutting and assembly of as many pieces.
Carpenters with a good basic overall training are at a distinct advantage, because they can switch from residential to commercial construction depending on which offers the best opportunity.
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Employment of carpenters is projected to grow nationally 24 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increased levels of new home building. commercial development and remodeling activity will require more carpenters.
|Journeyman Carpenter’s Median Pay||$19.20 per hour; $39,940 per year|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||901,200|
|Job Outlook, 2012-22||24% increase ( faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2012-22||218,200 new jobs|
United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (Jan. 2014)
Meet NEFBA Apprenticeship Carpentry
Graduate Gerald Gribbin
Gribbin, a 1994 apprentice graduate and now a construction superintendent with Auld & White, entered the NEFBA program while working as a carpenter for Haskell. Wanting to move up in his career, he welcomed an opportunity to become an apprentice.
Gribbin said he learned more than a trade in the program.
“In addition to the skills, the program taught us about team work,” Gribbin said. “When you sit in the same classes with other students, learn together and develop relationships, you learn a mutual respect for each other. It builds your confidence as you learn to work as part of a team.”
His apprentice experience gave him a trade for life, and he is quick to encourage others to pursue the same opportunity
”I would tell anyone considering the apprenticeship option to jump on board, and the sooner the better,” he said. “And, get ready to learn more than pounding nails. It’s the first step toward building a real career. I would do it again without a doubt and without hesitation. I’m always glad to tell people about the program and to encourage a newer generation of carpenters to take that next step and get those four years of training.”