How to Get a Carpentry Apprenticeship

by Steve Coffey  // in Carpentry


Carpenters work on constructing and installing wooden structures, fittings and other essential frameworks to build on. 

For most, apprenticeships provide an opportunity for industry enthusiasts looking for a fulfilling career in carpentry. 

Working under an experienced carpenter, apprentices can learn practical skills while getting paid as they earn their way to getting a national certification afterward. 

For those who like working on the site and learning from mentors with skills and experience, completing a carpentry apprenticeship will be rewarding for both your professional goal and long-term aspirations. 

Carpentry Apprenticeship – A Primer

Aspiring carpenters can enter the field via carpentry apprenticeships. But before we start, here are a few foundational aspects to investigate. 

What is an apprentice?

In the carpentry industry, an apprentice is considered an entry-level position. It’s a starting point for all aspiring carpenters to train under an experienced carpenter while earning a small fee. 

What exactly is a carpentry apprenticeship? 

You may be wondering how to get a carpentry apprenticeship if you are just a beginner. You have probably heard that a carpentry apprenticeship is a great way to get your foot in the door of the construction industry. 

Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training to prepare prospective carpenters for all things revolving around carpentry work. It’s a combination of classroom learning and practical experience on-site. The hands-on training is done under the supervision of a journeyman carpenter or other experienced building professional. 

In the classroom, apprentices learn theoretical knowledge such as how to perform their tasks safely and effectively. Most of the time, classroom learnings are taught in a trade school, technical school, or community college setting.

What does an apprenticeship consist of?

If you’re wondering how to get a carpentry apprenticeship, you can look into several programs offered on job boards or unions lasting three to four years. 

Depending on the state you’re planning to take the apprenticeship in, you need to research further into the duration and eligibility requirements. 

You’ll be touching on the basics of carpentry work and other advanced techniques in building these frameworks. 

Other technical skills you will learn along the way include reading blueprints, safety measures when working on-site, and other essential skills such as collaborating with other professionals and carpentry tradesmen.  

What does it entail?

Carpentry apprentices are expected to develop the following skills throughout the program: 

  • Understanding blueprints and other technical drawings 
  • Proper installation of frames, doors, windows, floors, and roofs
  • Measurement of building materials and use of tools for cutting wood 
  • Assembly of wood products 
  • Finishing carpentry involving drywall, exteriors, and building designs 
  • Repairs and maintenance of foundational structures 

On numerous occasions, you will be expected to collaborate with other colleagues. This means you’ll need to develop practical communication skills to ensure the smooth operation of the project and be able to give and receive clear instructions from colleagues, contractors, suppliers, and even customers. 

When taking a carpentry apprenticeship, expect it to last between three to four years. Expect rotations in various aspects of the trade, so you’ll get a solid education on how to go about carpentry leading to becoming a journeyman carpenter. 

Do carpentry apprentices get paid?

Apprentices earn a smaller wage compared to those of a journeyman carpenter. However, as you escalate in your experience and skills, you’ll also be given opportunities to earn a higher position and income. 

Benefits of a Carpentry Apprenticeship

man standing infront of miter saw

Carpentry has always been an in-demand trade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual wage for carpenters was $48,260 as of May 2021.

Recruiters and employers are likely to look into how much hands-on carpentry experience you have when hiring. 

You might consider getting an early start by getting experience in carpentry in local neighborhoods or taking small carpentry jobs under an experienced carpenter. When you present real-world experiences like these, employers will favor your application more than those without one. 

Using standardized or supervised guidance using the latest technology and innovative solutions in carpentry will be more appealing. 

In addition, an apprenticeship provides you with an opportunity to network with potential partners and employers. Your supervisors could serve as mentors to help you build your career in carpentry. 

When you take a carpentry apprenticeship, you will be armed with real-world skills which will be a great asset. It will make you a cut above the rest and increase your chances of getting hired by prestigious companies. 

Apprenticeships also let you earn college credits, saving time and resources on education. 

In the future, you might want to pursue higher education or another career path related to carpentry. You can use the credits from your apprenticeship to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in carpentry if you want to pursue one down the line. 

Doing an apprenticeship would be a great start to help you in your carpentry business in the future. 

Hands-on experience and networking opportunities are crucial aspects of every carpenter’s career. It will also give you a glimpse of how to handle financial and human resources, including collaborating with other professionals. 

How to Get a Carpentry Apprenticeship

man in black jacket and white hard hat holding green plastic bottle

Fulfill the basic requirements 

To qualify for the carpentry apprenticeship, you’ll need a high-school diploma or GED equivalent. Some programs may require six months’ worth of full-time work in this sector (depending on the state). 

If you don’t have any experience, you need to have a pre-apprenticeship graduation certification to confirm your completed training. You also have to be at least 18 years old before submitting the requirements for the apprenticeship. 

Carpentry requires physical strength since it requires handling heavy objects and doing lots of bending, standing, and kneeling for extended periods. So, a fit candidate would be someone who can perform all these essential functions. If you have limited physical abilities, you need to disclose this in your application. 

Compile all the necessary papers acknowledging you are legally employable in the US. Carpentry apprenticeship requirements vary from state to state, so do your research beforehand.

Create a sound, customized apprenticeship resume

There’s a good chance your submission will get stacked with other resumes from interested prospects. For your resume to stand out, avoid adding generic phrases such as “hard worker” or “excellent communication skills”. 

Instead, use other unique descriptions by detailing specific examples where you exhibited these roles. Mention periods where you were able to do some blueprint reading or collaborated with other professionals on a project. The use of power tools would also be a plus in this case. 

If you didn’t have paid experience on-site, you could include specific activities such as handling customer service or doing manual labor under a seasoned professional. You need to be able to demonstrate these experiences and how they have helped hone your carpentry skills.  

Apply for different apprenticeship programs

You can look into local unions and job boards offering apprenticeships. Attending job fairs and construction-related events would bring you closer to fellow professionals who might be offering this program. 

The Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council is one of the unions offering apprenticeship programs specific to general carpentry and specialty trades. They also have programs for veterans under the Helmets to Hardhats who would like to start a career in carpentry. 

You can also look into other unions like the CCAC and Carpenters Training Institute offering this type of program. It will also help boost your credentials if you have a certification from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). 


Are all carpentry apprenticeships paid? / How much can I earn?

A carpentry apprenticeship is paid training with a competitive salary and benefits. The average hourly wage of carpentry apprentices in the United States is about $20/hr. The pay will increase as you get better skills, complete more training hours, and progress in specialized fields. 

What are the top skills for carpentry apprentices?

Carpentry work entails attention to detail and good math skills. You will need to follow instructions and have the physical strength to be able to lift heavy objects. Excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to work independently are also expected. 

Collaborating with other professionals like architects, engineers, and other contractors is expected in most projects you’ll be handling. Excellent communication skills and teamwork are two skills you’ll need in this case. 

Networking with fellow professionals, tradespeople, and suppliers will be beneficial and will likely play a significant role in your career as a carpenter. You can attend local trade fairs or events organized by recognized associations such as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). 

Can a high-school senior apply for a carpentry apprenticeship?

Yes, a high-school senior can apply for a carpentry apprenticeship provided they can show a high-school diploma or GED. They should be at least 18 years old by the time they choose to apply along with a valid driver’s license. 

They need to be a US citizen or show proof of being employed in the US. In some states, an aptitude test is required along with the application. 

How is a carpentry apprenticeship application assessed? / How long does it take for the assessment?

Carpentry apprenticeship applications are assessed by the employer, training institution, or both, and it usually takes one to two weeks for assessments to be processed. Throughout this time, administrators will ask all eligible parties to submit additional documents such as transcripts and aptitude tests. 

Opt for programs with rolling admissions if you have conflicting schedules. Some programs require specific training hours on-site as a prerequisite, so be sure to ask the administrator if this is necessary for the program you’ve selected. 

How long does a carpentry apprenticeship last?

Carpentry apprenticeships last three to four years. They are a combination of classroom lessons and on-site training. 

Here are some of the topics you’ll encounter in classroom learning: 

  • Blueprint reading
  • Construction safety
  • Use of power tools
  • An understanding of construction codes

For specialty programs, you might be required to take college-level courses before being accepted to do the apprenticeship. 

What to pursue after carpentry apprenticeship?

After finishing your carpentry apprenticeship, you could work on becoming a journeyman carpenter. You could also explore other fields, such as construction management or engineering. 

You could specialize in specific areas in carpentry, such as finish carpentry or cabinetry. Specializing in these areas usually commands a higher salary. 


man in gray jacket holding brown wooden frame

Doing a carpentry apprenticeship is one way to get a full-time job as a carpenter. It provides an excellent opportunity for industry beginners to learn from seasoned professionals while gaining hands-on experience in their chosen specialization. 

In general, most carpentry apprenticeships offer competitive pay with benefits while allowing you to transition to a successful career path in carpentry or other higher industries such as engineering. 

Want to discover industry-recognized apprenticeship programs near you? Check out more resources in Construction Fanatics on how you can get started in an exciting career in carpentry.

About the author Steve Coffey

I am passionate about the building materials industry helping companies all throughout the channel see success and exceed the expectations of their audiences

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