What Is the Curriculum of Basic Carpentry Courses?

Carpenters are skilled craftsmen who build structures and products from wood and other materials. If you want to pursue a formal carpentry education, basic courses will teach you about the manual and power tools, building materials and safety procedures used in basic carpentry. Read on for more information on the courses available.

Overview of Carpentry Coursework

If you are interested in learning the carpentry trade you can find coursework at local technical colleges. In addition to providing essential skills, these classes teach you how to build a variety of indoor and outdoor projects. An alternative to formal education is participation in an apprenticeship, which can give you long-term experience working under the guidance of a skilled carpenter.

Important Facts About Carpentry

Degree/Certificate Levels Diploma, occupational certificates, and associate degrees
Specializations Residential carpentry, Commercial carpentry, and Industrial carpentry
Requirements Need to pass Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety courses
Continuing Education Carpenters looking to expand their job opportunities might consider a Bachelor's degree in Construction Management
Median Salary (2020) $49,520 (for all carpenters)
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 0% growth (for all carpenters)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Basic Carpentry Courses

Your choices for basic carpentry courses vary by institution or school. Some focus on the fundamental skills needed in carpentry, like working with tools, materials, ladders and other construction equipment. Blueprint reading, framing, building codes and materials may also be covered. Other common course topics include:

  • Foundations
  • Floors and finish flooring
  • Walls and ceilings
  • Roofing
  • Exterior finish
  • Decks and porches
  • Insulation and ventilation
  • Interior doors
  • Stair framing
  • Cabinets and trim work

Field Experience and Apprenticeships

Many schools focus on hands-on training in their carpentry programs and courses. A mix of basic theory and practical application can provide you with the skills you'll need for employment in the field. Some schools offer actual onsite application of your acquired building and remodeling skills, and they allow you to be a part of an actual construction project and crew.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in the U.S., no standard training requirements are in place for carpenters; it typically takes 3 to 4 years in an apprenticeship program to achieve proficiency (www.bls.gov).

The BLS also states that training may be acquired through apprenticeships or directly on the job, but apprenticeships are hard to come by, and on-the-job preparation may offer no formal instruction. Another option for aspiring carpenters is attending a trade or vocational school that offers practical application of the techniques learned. According to the BLS, many employers look highly upon such preparation and may start formally educated carpenters at higher levels of employment.

A Career in Carpentry

The BLS reported the carpentry field was expected to have little or no change in jobs from 2019 to 2029. Seasonal fluctuations in employment are to be expected in addition to employment being impacted by the economy. Peak periods are expected to offer the best employment opportunities. The BLS stated that the median annual wage for carpenters was $49,520 in May of 2020.