The journeyman carpenter designation is an occupational title given to an individual who has successfully completed a formal apprenticeship program. They work for new home builders, commercial construction companies, government agencies, remodeling firms or are self-employed. Journeyman carpenters work in a variety of environments such as high-rise office buildings, mills, residential homes, underground mines and tunnels. Hand-to-eye coordination, mathematical skills, project management abilities, strength and stamina are important attributes for a journeyman carpenter.
Journeyman carpenters use a variety of tools to accurately measure, cut and join wood, drywall, fiberglass, plastic and other building materials. Depending on their particular jobs, they frame structures and walls and install cabinets, ceilings, doors, floors, fixtures, prefabricated panels and scaffolding. Journeyman carpenters supervise the activities of laborers, carpenter's helpers and apprentices. They use measuring devices, electric saws, hammers, levels, miter boxes, pneumatic nail guns, sanding machines and squares. Journeyman carpenters also construct underground partitions, braces and specialty concrete forms. Many jobs require carpenters to be able to read and act on blueprints and other plan documents.
Aspiring journeyman carpenters must complete a three- or four-year apprenticeship with at least 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of annual on-the-job training. Apprentices learn blueprint reading, city and state building code requirements, and safety procedures at project sites. They also learn how to build scaffolds and work in confined spaces or at heights. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age, and may be expected to have a high school diploma or GED, pass a drug screening, be a legal U.S. resident or pass a physical examination.
The Carpenters International Training Fund has developed an innovative learning tool called, "Build-A-Book." This new online learning product enables carpenters in the field to cultivate new job-related skills from over 80 textbooks. According to Bill Irwin, the executive director of the fund, “Build-A-Book allows our training to be customized for the sequence and type of construction anywhere in North America.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says journeyman carpenters earned a mean hourly wage of $21.31 and a mean yearly salary of $44,330 as of May 2011. The lowest paid 10 percent of workers, including entry-level workers, earned $24,880 or less annually. The most experienced carpenters, or the highest 10 percent of earners, saw annual wages of $71,890 or more. The non-residential building industry produced the highest mean wages for carpenters in industries with a concentration of at least 5,000 workers: $23.23 per hour and $48,330 annually, according to the BLS.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated number of new jobs for carpenters is projected to increase by 196,000, or 20 percent, from 2010 to 2020. This estimate compares with an average 14 percent growth rate in all other U.S. occupations compiled by the BLS. Construction of new homes, home remodeling services and transportation infrastructure projects will also create an increased need for carpenters.