Construction Carpenter Job Description
Construction carpenters work with their hands, know how to use both hand and power tools, and have good math skills. They apply their expertise to projects such as constructing house frames, applying aluminum siding, installing roofs, or putting in windows and doors for commercial or residential projects. Typically, they work for construction companies, but some are self-employed. Construction carpenters usually work on a full-time basis, though in some cases, work may be seasonal, their skills more in demand during the spring and summer months.
Construction Carpenter Duties and Responsibilities
Most construction carpenters perform the same core tasks. Examining job listings, we found the following to be the most commonly mentioned duties associated with this occupation:
Construct Home and Building Frames
Construction carpenters erect wooden support structures, residential homes, and commercial projects. They pour footings, frame walls with studs, install flooring and roof beams, place plywood sheathing over studs, and frame doors, windows, and skylights.
Install Doors, Windows, Flooring, and Roofs
Other projects that often fall to construction carpenters include installing windows, flooring, and roofing shingles, and hanging doors. They might also put up drywall and, on occasion, complete light plumbing work.
Remodel Homes or Offices
Tearing out old drywall and knocking down walls for remodeling purposes are projects that fall to construction carpenters. They remove old carpets or floor tiles, walls, and doors, then, erect new walls to reconfigure spaces, install new floors, doors, windows, and trim, as well as other finish projects.
Review Blueprints and Drawings
Construction carpenters read blueprints for commercial and residential projects. They review the materials needed for each job, make changes to blueprints or drawings if needed, and make suggestions for improvements or adaptations.
Adhere to Safety Guidelines and Regulations
Jobsite safety is a major responsibility of all construction carpenters. They ensure all tools and equipment are working properly, safety gear is worn at all times, and work areas are free of debris or other hazards. They also oversee the cleanup of work areas at the end of each day.
Construction Carpenter Skills and Qualifications
Detail-oriented leaders with the physical capability to stand, carry, kneel, and crouch for long periods of time make effective construction carpenters. The following outlines the skills and abilities that are most commonly mentioned in job listings for this occupation:
- Mechanical skills – from working with power equipment to operating forklifts or cranes, construction carpenters display a wide range of mechanical skills
- Communication skills – whether they’re conversing with lead carpenters or placing materials orders, construction carpenters should display strong oral and written communication skills
- Eye-hand coordination – being a construction carpenter often requires making precise cuts and working with high-powered hand tools
- Problem-solving – sometimes things go wrong on a construction project—from the wrong materials being shipped to measurements being miscalculated; in these instances, construction carpenters should exercise effective problem-solving skills
- Math skills – taking measurements and making calculations are vital aspects of the job
- Organizational skills – keeping tools and workspaces organized is a key element to functioning as a successful construction carpenter
- Team player – construction carpenters work closely with architects, foremen, outside contractors, building owners, suppliers, and other professionals
- Time management – framing homes and other carpentry duties usually must be completed on a time schedule
Tools of the Trade
Tools and equipment that construction carpenters must be familiar with include:
- Hand tools (saws, hammers, crowbars, pliers)
- Power tools (drills, circular saws, chop saws, nail guns)
- Power equipment (forklifts, cranes, trenchers, portable cement mixers)
Construction Carpenter Education and Training
There is no formal postsecondary degree required to become a construction carpenter; most employers seek job candidates with a high school diploma. However, some community and vocational colleges offer certificate or two-year degree programs that contain courses in carpentry math, construction materials, safety, and introductory classes in framing, foundations, and more. Training in this field is typically achieved through apprenticeships with master construction carpenters, usually through professional associations, unions, or educational programs, or on-the-job-training.
Construction Carpenter Salary
The most recent information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that construction carpenters earn a median annual salary of $43,600; those in the 10th percentile realize a salary of $27,070, while top earners can be paid nearly $80,000 per year.
Construction carpenters working for commercial builders tend to see a higher mean annual wage than those working for residential construction firms ($52,670 vs. $45,420). Those employed in Alaska ($69,970), Hawaii ($68,960), and Illinois ($62,380) make the highest mean salaries in the US. New York ($61,900) and New Jersey ($60,380) pay the highest yearly wages for construction carpenters among northeastern and East Coast states.
An expected continued increase in home and commercial building construction will result in a projected 8 percent job growth rate for construction supervisors through 2026, the BLS reports. However, use of pre-fabricated structures could negatively impact this projection. At present, there are over one million construction carpenters employed in the US.
Refer to the resources listed below to gain more insight into working as a construction carpenter. The following links provide details about what it takes to become and continue working in the field:
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) – From safety training seminars to workforce development webinars, ABC, founded in 1950, is a voice for more than 21,000 construction carpenters and similar professionals.
Carpentry (6th edition) – Let a self-employed, sixth-generation construction carpenter guide you through the basics of framing, foundation building, exterior surfaces, and much more. The book contains detailed photographic drawings and offers a corresponding online tool that lets you learn interactively.
THISisCarpentry – An interactive website presented by carpenters, with woodworking tips, safety overviews, industry trends, carpentry basics, and more.
Protractor Podcast – Interviews and presentations by construction carpenters and contractors give details about business strategies, successful estimating practices, tool reviews, lead follow-ups, mentoring, and other tips.
Construction Today – From featured articles to residential and commercial building sections, this online magazine offers interviews, best practice tips, reviews of building materials and products, and other essential information you would need to know as a construction carpenter.
DeWalt Carpentry and Framing Complete Handbook – Filled with diagrams and pictures, this book covers the basics of house foundations, framing, and stair construction, as well as porches, railings, and other interior and exterior structures. Contains charts, tables, math basics, a glossary, and professional tips for the construction carpenter.
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