What types of jobs are done by carpenters?
Carpenters measure, cut, level and nail wood and other building materials. They install tile and insulation, acoustical ceilings, cabinets, siding, and much more. They work with a range of tools and materials to build houses, schools, churches, and hotels. They erect skyscrapers, hospitals, and office buildings; they construct bridges, tunnels, and highways. Carpenters make up the largest single group of skilled workers in the country.

What types of hours and working conditions are involved?
A typical carpenter’s workday lasts eight hours, starting at the job site before daybreak. Much of the work is outdoors. Attention to safety and health is paramount at all times because of the machinery, tools, and materials used in this trade. Carpenters wear a hard hat, durable work clothes and safety shoes. They’re paid by the hour—and as union members, they get time-and-a half or double-time for all overtime work. Apprentices often start out on a job by helping to build concrete forms, cutting drywall sheets and performing other introductory tasks. As they gain experience, they move into more complex jobs such as framing, layout, and alignment.

How do I become a professional carpenter?
It’s great to be in this industry—but to get there, you have to work hard. Your training will be guided by our experts through a thoughtfully designed apprenticeship program. To make sure your training is the best in the country, a group of experienced contractors and union representatives is responsible for providing state-of-the-art facilities and giving you excellent instruction while ensuring that you earn a good wage at the same time. To take the first steps towards apprenticeship, call your local carpenters’ training center.

Does my high school coursework matter?
If you are still in school, you should take classes in mathematics, drafting or mechanical drawing, metal or industrial shop, or any construction courses which familiarize you with construction technology. These classes will help you develop the dexterity and practical thinking skills you will need as a carpenter.

What is an apprentice?
To be an apprentice is to earn a good income and learn a trade, all at once. Apprentices study both in the classroom and on the job, under the guidance of skilled workers of that trade—also known as journeymen. From the first day on the job, you earn wages and qualify for benefits. You also get regular raises if you work steady—usually every six months until you reach the full journeyman scale by the end of the apprenticeship program. In most cases the length of your apprenticeship is four years, and your training is nearly free.

What makes this opportunity so special?
The rewards of apprenticeship training are the good wages and benefits you receive as a skilled craftsperson. Union carpenters belong to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; as such, they benefit from the security of being professional tradespeople. You will be working in a good job under the protection of a union contract, which means that you will have health insurance and pension and welfare benefits. It pays to reach your full potential as an apprenticeship-trained carpenter.

Washington State Earning Potential:

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