Whether carpenters make a lot of money is highly subjective. You must compare your own income to the average earnings of carpenters to make a fair assessment. Overall, the average annual wages for individuals in 2011 were $42,979.61, according to the Social Security Administration, which is slightly less than what a carpenter earned per year in 2012. The work of carpenters is highly physical. They cut wood, fiberglass and plastic, construct house frames and install drywall units. If you worked in the commercial industry, you might construct a high-rise office building from a scaffold.
Income and Qualifications
Carpenters usually get paid by the hour. They earned average hourly rates of $21.41 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or $44,520 per year. The middle half made between $31,290 and $54,800 annually. If you were among the top 10 percent, you'd earn over $72,580 per year. To become a carpenter, you need a high school diploma or GED and the ability to perform physical work. Many carpenters complete a three- or- four-year apprenticeship and 144 hours of paid technical training, plus 2,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training, according to the BLS. Other essential requirements are physical strength and stamina, manual dexterity and math, communication, customer service and problem-solving skills.
Income by Industry
In 2012, incomes for carpenters varied among industries. They earned the highest income of $69,090 working in the movie picture and video industry, according to BLS data. They also earned relatively high salaries in investigation and security services and highway and bridge construction industries -- $61,940 and $52,760 per year, respectively. If you worked in the commercial building industry, you'd earn $47,920 per year, close to the industry average of $44,520. Your annual income in residential building construction would be slightly less, at $41,910.
Income by State
Carpenters earned the highest annual incomes of $66,980 in Hawaii as of 2012, based on BLS data. They also earned above-average incomes in Alaska, New York and California at $62,360, $56,290 and $55,780 per year, respectively. If you worked as a carpenter in Pennsylvania, your annual income would be $42,590. You'd earn $37,090 and $32,820 per year, respectively, in Florida and Texas.
Jobs for carpenters should increase by 20 percent in the next decade, according to the BLS, faster than the average growth rate of 14 percent for all jobs. An increase in population will increase demand for new homes, creating more jobs for carpenters. You'll find additional job opportunities as a carpenter in the home remodeling market when the economy improves. People have more disposable income to spend on remodeling when the economy's strong.
2016 Salary Information for Carpenters
Carpenters earned a median annual salary of $43,600 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, carpenters earned a 25th percentile salary of $33,770, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $58,700, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,025,600 people were employed in the U.S. as carpenters.