How to Become a Finish Carpenter

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The field of finish carpentry takes the skills of a basic carpenter and uses them for building cabinetry, furniture making and trim installation. Along with the extra training it takes to become a finish carpenter, or joiner, you can expect to make considerably more money. If you specialize even more within your field, such as a custom cabinetmaker, you can earn even more than someone who specializes in trim installation. To become a finish carpenter, you can choose a number of career paths.

Take classes in basic carpentry training. This may be a high school vocational program or post-secondary training. You can also get early training during summer breaks from school. Learn how to operate the tools of your trade.

Enroll in finish carpentry classes. These classes may be offered at a local vocational training school or community college. It may also be possible to earn these credits through a regular four-year college. You can earn a certificate in finish carpentry in less than a year while an associate degree takes two years to complete. Both the certificate program and the associate degree career track should teach you the basics of finish carpentry as well as how to operate the special tools of the trade, such as routers, joiners and planers. You should have a firm understanding of how to do interior and exterior finish work, such as installing soffits, baseboards and crown moldings. The two-year associate degree may also offer you experience with blueprint reading and the mathematical skills necessary for finish carpentry.

Join an apprenticeship program. You can skip the formal educational training if you want to earn while you learn with an apprenticeship. Professional organizations, such as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, offer paid apprenticeships under member supervision. The lengths of these apprenticeships vary.

Pass any licensing requirements for your state. Depending on where you live, you may need a specialty contractor’s license as well as a contractor's surety bond. You may have to prove that you have liability insurance as well as pass an examination. In addition to finish carpentry information, the exam may test you on your knowledge of business law.

Use the Internet as a learning tool. Find online courses to help you learn more about new or specialized techniques involved in finish carpentry. While an online course may not be as good as hands-on training, a well-designed class can provide ample information for the amount of time required to take it.