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Finish Carpenter Duties and Responsibilities

Finish carpenters carry out a range of duties depending on the organization they work for. Based on job listings we analyzed, a finish carpenter’s duties typically involve:

Build Products A primary role for finish carpenters is building items, such as shelves, doors, windows, counters, and other carpentry projects, to the correct scale and dimensions.

Demolish and Remove Items If working on a renovation project, finish carpenters dismantle and demolish designated items before carrying out repairs or inputting new materials. For example, if a finish carpenter is refitting doors in a home or office, they will remove the previous doors before beginning work on either repairing them or fitting new ones.

Select Materials Finish carpenters ensure that the correct materials are collected before beginning a job and that the client is happy with the chosen lumber before they carry out any work.

Work from Blueprints Finish carpenters work from sketches and drawings, as well as verbal and written descriptions of what’s required, to complete the job to the right specifications.

Instruct Colleagues on Projects If the project calls for it, finish carpenters work with colleagues on different tasks and projects, so they must ensure everyone is working from the same plans and that the project is carried out to the correct standard.


Finish Carpenter Skills and Qualifications

Finish carpenters need the strength and endurance to carry out physical carpentry tasks. They also need great math and problem-solving skills to modify products when they need adjusting. Typically, employers require a high school diploma and some experience in a similar role, as well as the following abilities:

  • Physical fitness – finish carpenters use heavy materials and tools that can weigh upward of 100 pounds, so candidates for this job need the physical strength and stamina to cope with this
  • Business aptitude – finish carpenters are often self-employed, so good business acumen and the abilities to track inventory and process payments are important
  • Attention to detail – this job requires precision to take accurate measurements and make precise cuts, so finish carpenters need great attention to detail to carry out jobs properly
  • Dexterity – finish carpenters use a number of different tools and need great hand-eye coordination to avoid injuries and damage to materials
  • Math skills – a key part of this role is taking measurements and working out dimensions for the end product, so good math skills are vital to being a successful finish carpenter

Finish Carpenter Education and Training

The minimum requirement to become a finish carpenter is a high school diploma, and most people in this job have also completed an apprenticeship. Finish carpenters typically learn on the job, but experience in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and general technical training is considered advantageous. Some technical schools provide associate’s degrees in carpentry, which can help candidates gain a competitive edge in the job market.


Finish Carpenter Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for finish carpenters is $47,000, according to PayScale. Finish carpenters in the 10th percentile earn around $29,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $73,000 a year. Some companies offer packages that can reach up to $5,000 from bonus structures based on individual or group performances or profit-sharing opportunities. Few employers offer dental plans or medical insurance as part of their benefits package. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this sector will grow 8 percent through 2026.


Helpful Resources

We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you learn how to become a finish carpenter:

Carpenter – this is a great LinkedIn group to join to network, discuss industry news, and share knowledge with others in the field. For new finish carpenters, joining a group such as this is a great way to make contacts and learn about new job opportunities

“The Carpenter’s Toolbox: A Guide to Staying Efficient with the Tools of the Trade” – this blog post will teach readers how to pick the right tools for the job and bring a minimalist collection to any job while still being efficient

Finish Carpenter’s Manual – this useful guide to time-saving tips and techniques will help amateur finish carpenters produce professional work every time. Some projects can be lengthy, so knowing ways to cut time without compromising on quality is a useful skill, and one that this manual can help with

Progressive Marketing Plan for a Finish Carpentry Contractor – this book provides a detailed and informative guide to marketing and growing a successful finish carpentry business