Employment Prospects


Approximately 718,730 carpenters work in the United States. Many work in residential and nonresidential building construction, and for building finishing contractors. In 2018, about 27 percent of carpenters were self-employed.

Some carpenters work for manufacturing firms, government agencies, retail and wholesale establishments, or schools. Others work in the shipbuilding, aircraft, or railroad industries. Still others work in the arts, for theaters and movie and television production companies as set builders, or constructing exhibits for museums or art galleries.

Starting Out

Information about available apprenticeships can be obtained by contacting the local office of the state employment service, area contractors that hire carpenters, or the local offices of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, which cooperates in sponsoring apprenticeship programs. Helper jobs that can be filled by beginners without special training in carpentry may be advertised online or with the state employment service. You also might consider contacting potential employers directly.

Advancement Prospects

Once an applicant has completed and met all the requirements of apprenticeship training, he or she will be considered a journeyman carpenter. With sufficient experience, journeymen may be promoted to positions responsible for supervising the work of other carpenters. If a carpenter's background includes exposure to a broad range of construction activities, he or she may eventually advance to a position as a general construction supervisor. A carpenter who is skillful at mathematical computations and has a good knowledge of the construction business may become an estimator. An experienced carpenter might one day go into business for himself or herself, doing repair or construction work as an independent contractor.

Tips for Entry

Apply to Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer for a building project in your area. You'll gain practical experience not just in individual skills but in working as a team member.

Investigate the programs for high school or college students at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) at Home Builders Institute (HBI). Or apply at HBI to be mentored by an industry professional.

Keep your ears open for an opportunity to be a carpenter's helper through a local home improvement store or other organization that serves home builders.

If you are highly motivated to advance your knowledge in the field of homebuilding, sign up for an online course with the Association of Home Builders or Associated General Contractors.