Careers and Employment

Carpenters cut, fit and assemble wood and other materials to construct buildings.  Carpenters’ duties vary by the type of employer. Builders often use specialty trade contractors who hire carpenters to perform one or two tasks. For example, a carpenter might specialize in foundations or finish work. However, a carpenter who works for a general contractor must often perform many tasks common to new construction. 

Construction LabCarpenters are required to read and interpret blueprints, use hand and power tools, work both indoors and outdoors, and often work longer hours during good weather.  Carpentry is a physically demanding job. Carpenters need to be able to stand or walk for long periods of time, bend or twist their body, use their hands to handle and control tools and materials and be able to repeat the same movements.*

Due to the short-term nature of many carpentry jobs and the cyclical nature of the industry, the number of job openings for carpenters declines during economic slowdowns. Carpenters who have broad skills will have the best chances of remaining employed.

Job opportunities in the construction field are expected to grow by 25% between now and 2020. The median salary for individuals in the construction industry is $28,410 or $13.66 per hour. Pay varies with the area of the country, the employer and the type of job. Union workers earn higher wages. Apprentices generally earn about half the wage of skilled carpenters but receive higher pay as they gain experience and skills.
* Information obtained from the Illinois Career Information System