A carpenter is an important part of any construction team. He or she has the skills and knowledge to cut, fasten, carve, and design objects made of wood or other materials. These individuals are gifted in measuring precisely, sometimes called carpentry math, and know how to use different construction tools like saws, drills, small hand tools, and a variety of mechanized tools. The job has several levels in most of the US.
Most people who begin in carpentry may take some basic training at local trade schools or community colleges, or they may simply be skilled at building with varied materials. Many begin as apprentice carpenters, and in many places, apprentices must have a certain amount of on the job experience prior to moving up to the next level of employment, journeyman. At the top echelon, a person can become a master carpenter when he or she has significant experience and training in the field and has amassed many hours of work as apprentices and journeymen. This expert may oversee large jobs, participate in training apprentices and journeymen, and work directly with others in the construction field like architects, electricians, metal workers, and a variety of others to see a job through to its complete finish.
The apprentice carpenter tends to do work that requires the least training. They may cut and carry wood or other materials, do preliminary work in the building of a structure, and, as they grow more experienced, more actively participate in the finer aspects of building something. Journeymen do some of the more finely and precisely constructed work, and many run their own companies, working directly with other builders and designers.
Though carpentry is often associated with the building of large structures like homes, freeways, and skyscrapers, there is another subset of this field. Some individuals specialize in making smaller objects, like furniture, carved wood pieces, or sculptures. There are master or journeymen carpenters who are particularly gifted in designing small aspects of a home, like staircases or cabinets.
Working in this job, especially at the upper levels, implies not only the ability to work very hard, to be accurate at work, and to commit to long hours, but also artistic sensibility. Even if a person doesn’t specifically design a home — though some do actively participate in helping to design — he or she does need artistic precision in bringing the home or other structure to completion. It’s a field that draws numerous highly skilled workers, and it certainly shouldn’t be considered a profession made up of the uneducated. Carpenters are often highly educated, artistically gifted, and extremely intelligent people; this may play against stereotype of the construction worker who wolf whistles at every passing attractive female. Moreover, though the field was once male dominated, more and more women are entering it, and the working environment is much more equally balanced between genders.
The goal of most carpenters is to advance in knowledge to upper levels of journeyman or master. This is because new ones are often required to do much of the heavier work. Over time, people in the field can suffer injuries, impairing their ability to work heavier jobs. Knowledge of more ergonomically sound methods for lifting and constructing material has helped somewhat in this field, but work injuries remain an issue. Some professionals who’ve worked since their teens burn out by the time they hit their mid 40s, requiring worker’s compensation and career changes. If they’ve advanced to higher levels in their profession, they may be better off, since they may not be required to do some of the heavier work that building something takes.
Especially when it comes to the building of structures, the carpenter may have a work schedule that varies. Poor weather can mean having to wait to begin or finish jobs. Work may also be affected by economy, and in the midst of a recession, individuals in this field may have less work because people aren’t building houses or larger structures, since it is not economically sound to do so. On the other hand, these professionals are always needed to repair existing structures, provided the weather cooperates — and even sometimes when it doesn’t, if the need for a repair is vital.