A high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement to become a carpenter. To find work, however, you must typically complete a few years of hands-on training in a formal apprenticeship program or learn skills through a two-year technical school program.
Formal apprenticeship programs for carpenters include three to four years of training. At least 2,000 hours of hands-on training is required, along with 144 hours of classroom education. During the apprenticeship, you work closely with a master carpenter and learn about blueprints, building code requirements and safety practices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that numerous two-year technical schools offer carpentry degrees that are affiliated with unions or contractor organizations. These programs provide a similar blend of in-class education and hands-on internship training and can lead to an associate’s degree.
Many carpenters specialize in certain types of projects, such as industrial, commercial and residential. You can receive specialized training during your apprenticeship in areas like concrete, rigging and scaffold building, to help prepare for these projects. To be successful as a carpenter, you also need to be adept at math and problem-solving. These skills help you accurately measure before cutting and placing materials. Physical strength and stamina are vital given that the work is labor-intensive. Detail-orientation helps you avoid mistakes that could cause building decay or failure. Business and leadership skills are important for aspiring independent contractors or supervisors.