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How to Obtain a Journeyman's Carpenter Card

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A carpenter is a skilled construction worker who uses wood and related materials to fabricate and repair items ranging from window frames and the frameworks for houses to the scaffolds and forms used in the construction of roads and bridges. Journeyman carpenters spend years acquiring their skills. A journeyman carpenter's card issued by the carpenters union provides proof of her training and expertise. People have earned good livings for thousands of years as carpenters. Even so, it is a modern profession that is always needed by construction and remodeling contractors.

Carpentry Job Description

Wood is the basic material carpenters use to construct building frames, walls, floors, scaffolds and specific components like door and window frames. They must follow building plans and blueprints carefully. Some carpenters inspect and repair or remodel existing rooms or entire buildings. Journeymen carpenters do related tasks such as installing insulation and drywall. Carpenters are also essential for the construction of large steel frame buildings, bridges and roads, where they build the scaffolds and wood forms needed to support other construction activities.

Carpenters use a wide variety of tools. In addition to ordinary saws, hammers ad measuring tapes, they employ chisels, levels and measuring squares. Power sanders and saws are among the many tools a carpenter needs for heavy duty tasks. Some carpenters are classified as construction carpenters, Others specialize in "rough carpentry," meaning they assemble the supporting frames and scaffolds required in large construction projects.

Carpentry Industry Work Environment

Carpentry is an occupation largely situated within the construction industry. About 33 percent of carpenters are self-employed and another 21 percent work in residential construction. Nonresidential construction accounts for 12 percent of the jobs. Building finishing contractors employ 11 percent of carpenters, while 9 percent work for foundational, structural or exterior contractors.

A carpentry journeyman has a physically active, hands-on job that includes indoor and outside work. He does a lot of bending, lifting and standing and may have to work in confined spaces. Safety gear like hard hats, boots and protective eye wear is often necessary. Most carpenters work full time. In addition, even and weekend work may be required.

Training and Education Requirements

If you are interested in becoming a journeyman carpenter, high school is a good place to start. Useful courses include mathematics, blueprint reading, mechanical drawing and other vocational subjects. A high school diploma is usually required and you need a driver's license to travel to work at various job sites. Typically, carpentry is learned on the job or through an apprenticeship program. A carpentry apprenticeship requires 144 hours of formal training and 2,000 hours work per year for about four years. Once you have completed this training, you are considered a journeyman carpenter. You can then obtain a journeyman carpenter card though your local trade union. Known as Training Verification cards, these documents are issued by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. They provide employers with access to current information about your level of training and experience.

Carpentry Journeyman Salary

Once you complete training and become a carpentry journeyman, you can expect to earn a good living. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median annual earnings for carpenters in 2017 was $45,170. Half of the workers made more than the median amount, while the other half earned less. The lowest-earning 10 percent made less than $27,790 and the highest-paid 10 percent received over $80,350. Pay goes up, once you have a few years of experience. In 2018, the average entry-level earnings for carpenters was $39,439. Experienced carpenters averaged $48,276. Late career earnings averaged $49,050.

Job Growth Prospects

The BLS says that employment for carpenters in the United States is likely to grow by 8 percent from 2016 through 2026. Population growth will create the need for new homes, factories and infrastructure projects. On the downside, growth in the use of prefabricated buildings may limit growth in carpentry employment. Overall, the outlook for carpentry jobs is good. A journeyman carpenter can also advance her career by becoming a supervisor or an independent contractor.

  • Attending an apprenticeship is not the only training option. Instead of enrolling in an apprenticeship program you can obtain on-the-job training by working as a carpenter helper or study carpentry in a trade school, vocational school or community college.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, William Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about career, employment and job preparation issues. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology with a focus on employment and labor from Georgia State University. He has conducted research sponsored by the National Science Foundation to develop career opportunities for people with disabilities.

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