What Is The Job Description Of A Carpenter?

A carpenter is someone who works in the construction and cabinet-making industry. They work with wood and need to understand how to cut, measure, and assemble wooden components to create large structures. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of a carpenter is $57,200, as of May 2020.

Carpentry as an industry can be competitive, but it can also be a rewarding career to have. Those who enjoy working with wood, or have an artistic flair, can find a place in the carpentry industry. It would be best if you were adept at working with hand and power tools and should also know how to create and read blueprints.

Who is a carpenter?

A carpenter is a professional who works with wood, and their role can change, depending on the kind of job they are doing. Some carpenters choose to work exclusively with the construction industry, while others may design cabinets and dressers out of their own shop. A carpenter may also choose to work with specialized woodworking processes or create artisanal wares.

Depending on the kind of role they choose to specialize in, the job description of a carpenter can be diverse. At the core, however, a carpenter needs to understand how to work with wood, read blueprints, and make designs according to those blueprints.

What are the different kinds of jobs a carpenter can do?

A carpenter can take on many roles; however, many choose to specialize in one or two areas. Carpenters working in different industries also have different names for their specialization. Of these, the three main ones are:

Rough carpenters

These are carpenters who work outdoors on construction projects. They need to know how to read blueprints in order to bring those designs to life. The blueprints also dictate what kind of material needs to be used and how much of it.

Once the material is selected, it’s the job of the rough carpenter to cut the material according to specifications. Rough carpenters also need to know how to use hand saws and power saws and other machines related to woodworking. Rough carpenters need to know how to join individual wooden elements, to create larger structures. Depending on where they are working, they may also need to build a scaffolding or other temporary support.

Sometimes, rough carpenters also need to know how to build sleds. This becomes especially important when they need to haul wood or other materials from places inaccessible to a motorized vehicle.

Finish carpenters

A finish carpenter specializes in building cabinets, dressers, wooden furniture, instruments, ornate wooden objects, etc. To be a finish carpenter, you need to have a careful eye for detail. Finish carpenters often have shops of their own but can choose to visit a location to build or install a piece there.

They may also visit construction sites to fit and install wooden trims and add other household furnishings.

Residential carpenters

A carpenter who chooses exclusively to work with private residences, whether for repair work, upgrades, or other work, is a residential carpenter. They work both indoors as well as outdoors on residential properties.

They may be asked to install wooden flooring build a patio, and do other woodwork around the house. A residential carpenter may also find themselves performing the role of a general contractor in that they may need to create designs. They will then need to use these designs to bring their woodwork to life.

Specialized carpentry

Other than these, you can also choose to pursue several specialized roles as a carpenter. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Cabinetmakers make, aside from cabinets, dressers, and storage chests as well.
  • Luthiers are carpenters who repair musical instruments.
  • Trim carpenters are those who work on moldings, as well as trims for doors.
  • Scenic carpenters help build sets in the film industry.
  • Shipwrights are carpenters who travel on ships in case emergency repair work needs to be done.
  • Green carpenters are those who work on eco-friendly and energy-efficient designs. They typically use either recycled or sustainable materials to build their projects.

How do you become a carpenter?

You’ll need to at least have your high school graduation diploma, or your GED certificate, in order to become a carpenter. There are typically two ways to go about this. The first is enrolling in a technical or vocational school, where you’ll receive training on how to be a carpenter.

The school you enrolled in can help you with fieldwork as well and may be able to get you an apprenticeship. Alternatively, you can apply through your local union or approach a master carpenter for an apprenticeship. You may need to go through a selection process before you’re considered for the apprenticeship. As an apprentice, you’ll learn the ropes of the industry from a master carpenter.

You may also have to take classes on carpentry to meet the required number of classroom hours and learn about the industry. To become a carpenter, you also need to pass an OSHA safety exam that is aimed to teach you how to be safe at work. You will need to successfully pass this exam before you can begin work as a carpenter.

What is the work environment of a carpenter like?

A carpenter can either work for themselves, work with a construction company, a carpentry business, or others. Carpenters typically find themselves working full hours through the week. The role and responsibility of a carpenter can change depending on the field they choose to specialize in.

However, a carpenter generally needs to know how to cut and measure wood, work with tools, and should be able to deliver their projects in a timely manner. They should be able to fabricate wooden constructions and will need to know how to safely handle various tools. The outlook for the carpentry industry is generally good, with more and more people showing an interest in becoming a carpenter.


A carpenter is a professional who specializes in working with wood. They need to know how to cut, measure, shape, and mold different wooden materials and should be adept at assembling materials as well. There are various kinds of specializations that a carpenter could choose to pursue. While some work in the construction industry, others create cabinets or ornate wooden handicrafts.

In order to become a carpenter, you’ll need to either attend a vocational or technical school or get an apprenticeship. You’ll also need to pass qualifying tests, which include a health and safety test from OSHA.

Irrespective of the kind of carpenter you choose to be, you may still find yourself encountering career risks from time to time. An unhappy customer could decide to sue you, and you may find yourself facing an expensive lawsuit. During times like these, insurance for carpenters can come in as a tremendous saving grace. You’ll be financially covered and won’t need to worry about financially protecting your lawsuit.

In the same way, carpenters are also exposed to other kinds of career risks, such as a client getting into an accident, business interruptions, and more. If you would like to learn more about carpentry insurance and how it can help you, click here.