When it comes to building trades in the United States, carpentry is the biggest of them all. A skilled carpenter with experience can make a decent living working either as an employee or a sole proprietorship. However, before you land a job in the carpentry sector,
you need to know what it takes to get yourself into a position where you can work on rewarding projects.
1. It all starts in school
While it’s not mandatory for professional carpenters to have educational qualifications, they can make a significant difference in terms of how quickly one learns the trade. If you are in school, you should focus on taking woodworking, mechanical drawing, and mathematics courses.
After you have graduated, it’s recommended to start working with a carpenter in a helper’s role. This would give you the time you need to acquaint yourself with a diverse array of carpentry tools and techniques.
2. Say yes to apprenticeship
Once you have plenty of experience under your belt as a helper, you should pursue an apprenticeship. There is a wide variety of official apprenticeship modules offered across trade schools. Of course, it’s not compulsory for you to complete all. However, the more modules you complete, the more experience you are likely to gain, and the better carpenter you are bound to become.
Apprenticeship modules differ, but you can more or less expect technical training of around 144 hours over a four-year period. Most apprenticeship modules also involve stipends. So, you would get paid for all the work you do based on the training you receive.
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3. Apply for entry-level jobs
You may have gathered considerable experience during your apprenticeship. However, even after completing it successfully, you would mostly be eligible for entry-level roles. Fortunately, you can approach remodelers and contractors and send in your applications for consideration. The trade school where you have completed your apprenticeship could also help you by getting you in touch with local businesses actively hiring carpenters.
Pay scales vary from place to place across the United States. If you are open to relocating, preferably move to a place where there is a significant demand for carpenters. At an entry-level position, you are not likely to earn a lot of money. However, the experience you gather through a combination of simple and complex projects would be of immense help in the years ahead.
4. Transitioning from junior to senior positions
As you work your way up the ladder, you are likely to be engaged in more and more complex projects. You are likely to see your wages increase over time. Eventually, there will come a point where you have to decide how you would like your future to be. Being employed by a steady carpentry business would be positive in terms of a stable income.
However, many carpenters nowadays choose to either become General Contractors (GC) or start their very own business. Both options are much more flexible compared to steady employment in terms of the work you do. However, they also have certain risks. For instance, if you are a GC or own a business in an area with fluctuating demand for carpenters, your income may not reflect the skills you possess.
5. Upskill yourself in other departments
If you have made your mind up on breaking free from the shackles of full-time employment and starting your own business, it’s time to upskill. Sure, your carpentry skills may be superior compared to your peers. However, is your marketing game on point?
Quite simply, if you have to run a successful business, you have to reach out to your target audience and let them know you have something to offer. There are various online platforms where you can take marketing courses and learn the basics. Marketing, especially digital marketing, is vital for modern-day businesses to succeed. So you would do well to learn as much as you can about marketing.
6. Keep looking for better opportunities
Starting a business is not everyone’s cup of tea, and if you would rather stay employed, you have to stay on the lookout for opportunities. Estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggest that carpentry will expand in the years ahead. However, the profession’s expansion rate is likely to be slow. If all predictions were to come true, it would mean limited opportunities.
While the predictions seem bleak on the surface, the good news is that you can make the most of the opportunities that come your way. You need to keep upskilling yourself and staying up to date with the latest trends in the wide world of carpentry. This should allow you to put yourself in a better position compared to your peers when it comes to landing a lucrative job.
Becoming a skilled carpenter takes time, but with the right attitude, there is no reason for you to fail. Ultimately, your skill level and knowledge are bound to benefit you and help you establish yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the carpentry business.
Also read: 7 Cargo and Carpenter Pants for Women to Own