Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Journeyman Carpenter Job Description

careertrend article image
carpenter image by William Berry from

After a carpenter has completed her apprenticeship or on-the-job training, she's considered a journeyman carpenter. This includes helping to build wood structures such as residential homes and commercial buildings. They also remodel existing structures and often repair major structural damage to buildings. A career as a journeyman carpenter provides you with useful building and problem-solving skills that you can take with you anywhere.


Journeyman carpenters often learn their trade through on-the-job instruction. But many beginning carpenters go through state- or union-approved carpentry apprenticeships. These combine on-the-job training with college coursework in relevant information on math, building construction, state building codes and design. Journeyman carpenters usually start off on the job site as carpenter's helpers and gradually advance as their skill level increases.


Journeyman carpenters must be able to perform all types of wood construction by working from either a blueprint, a lead carpenter's instruction or general knowledge. This requires a solid grasp of geometry and algebra in addition to familiarity with all kinds of hand and power tools, including framing squares, levels, power saws and drills, nail guns, compressors and generators. They should be able to frame and build walls, floor and ceiling joists, windows and doorways in accordance with city, state and federal building codes. Journeyman carpenters are often required to train new hires in sound building practices. This means you must be able to communicate complex concepts in a simple and easy-to-understand way.

Work Environment

A journeyman carpenter's work usually involves a standard 40-hour week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that often involves starting early in the morning. Also, the work environment is often hazardous. There's a lot of repetitive heavy lifting, kneeling, bending and climbing. There is also nailing, cutting, lifting heavy objects and all manner of potentially dangerous work going on all around. Carpenters work in a wide range of environments, from new construction to high-rise buildings to remodels of existing homes. You could get injured any day--but this is where your knowledge of the trade and of building codes and safety requirements come into play. Carpenters also sometimes work at high or low elevations with limited structural support.


According to, the average wage for a carpenter is anywhere from $15 to $24 per hour. With overtime and estimated bonus pay, this translates to anywhere from $30,000 to $53,000 annually. These wages are largely based on the carpenter's skill level, the size of the construction company and the status of the building industry.

Outlook and Advancement

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. the carpentry industry accounted for 1.8 million jobs in 2008. The bureau predicts a job growth rate of about 13 percent through 2018, which is about the average growth rate for all occupations surveyed by the bureau. There is a lot of room for advancement in the carpentry trades compared to many other occupations. Many journeyman carpenters advance to supervisory or project management roles. After gaining enough experience, many journeyman carpenters start their own construction businesses. In fact, according to the BLS, about 32 percent of all carpenters are self-employed.


Ezekiel James began as a music writer in 2003. Since then, James has served as a writer for several music, technology and design publications. His work has been published on eHow, and in print for the "The Potrero View" and "Punk Planet." James is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Portland State University.