Why want to become a carpenter in Pennsylvania? This is because, in the next coming years, it has been projected that there will be tens of thousands of job opportunities in this state.
While it is true that getting into this occupation doesn’t take much time compared to other professions, you still have to be trained in order to acquire the knowledge and hone your skills.
If you really want to pursue this career, you will have to take the training program first and this happens at the school.
The carpenter training is composed of classroom lectures and hands-on training and it takes several weeks or even months to complete. While apprenticeship may take 3-4 years to finish.
To guide you to the path you want to pursue, we have step-by-step instructions in becoming a carpenter – either by earning a certificate or entering an apprenticeship program, there are resources below to help you.
Likewise, in this article, we also mention some of the good points - criteria to take note of, in choosing the best training school since tuition isn’t cheap, you don’t want to commit the mistake of selecting.
Let’s discuss first the ways to enter this profession. Please read on…
How to Become a Carpenter
Becoming a carpenter does take some preparation and it takes a considerable amount of time in order to call yourself a carpenter but it should not discourage you to attain your goal of becoming a professional. Here are some ways to help you hone your skills.
- Become a laborer or a helper. Most of the folks I knew started from the ground up, they climb the corporate ladder so to speak. Working with experienced carpenters in the field allows you to earn knowledge and skills. This qualification gains you the opportunity to admission for a certificate, degree, or apprenticeship in carpentry later on.
- Learn carpentry in technical schools. Check your community college for carpentry programs that you can enroll. The program should prepare you to learn the basics of carpentry, the right skills, and techniques through hands-on workshops. Hence, the module of the program should be enough to give insights, and training for a career later on. However, you should also check the reputation of the trade school and the support that it offers its graduates.
If you’re looking for a school, please see the below list.
- Join an apprenticeship offered by a contractor, union, or sponsoring company. The theories on carpentry and the hands-on experience through carpentry workshops are good, but learning from a professional carpenter as an apprentice is even better. Joining as an apprentice also gives you an opportunity to observe or take note of the ins and outs of the profession.
It is noted that enrolling in a carpentry program and joining an apprenticeship with a professional carpenter does not necessarily make you a skilled carpenter. The reason for it is that you need to have the discipline to work on your own skills for several years. Hence, becoming a professional carpenter does not happen overnight.
What I like about being an apprentice is that you get paid with an entry-level salary while learning the trade; it takes about 3-4 years to complete the apprenticeship program.
If you would like to apply for a carpenter apprenticeship program, see below the unions and contractors that offer such a program.
Carpentry Training and Technical Schools in Pennsylvania Where You Can Enroll
See below for the list of technical schools and colleges… and for more information, read also below the information in choosing the right school.
- Harrisburg Area Community College
One HACC Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17110, 717-780-2300, 800-ABC-HACC
731 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325, 717-337-3855, 717-337-3015 (fax)
1641 Old Philadelphia Pike, Lancaster, PA 17602, 717-293-5000, 717-358-2951 (fax)
735 Cumberland St., Lebanon, PA 17042, 717-270-4222, 717-270-6385 (fax)
2010 Pennsylvania Ave., York, PA 17404, 717-718-0328, 717-718-9788 (fax)
- Community College of Beaver County
1 Campus Drive, Monaca, PA 15061, 724-480-2222
125 Cessna Drive, Beaver Falls, PA 15010, 724-480-3600
7101 Steubenville Pike, Oakdale, PA 15071, 724-480-3600
688 Western Ave., Canonsburg, PA 15317, 724-746-2890
- Lancaster County Career & Technology Center
1730 Hans Herr Drive, Willow Street, PA 17584
Phone: 717-464-7050, Fax: 717-464-9518
- Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center
2615 Warren Road, Reading, PA 19604
- Triangle Tech
Call 1-800-874-8324 or Text GoTech to 32075
Has locations in Pittsburgh, Greensburg, DuBois, Sunbury, Bethlehem, Chambersburg
- Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
652 Ridge Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, 412-262-1830
261 Patchway Road, Duncansville, PA 16635, 814-693-0311
- Orleans Technical College
2770 Red Lion Road, Philadelphia, PA 19114
- Lehigh Career & Technical Institute
4500 Education Park Drive, Schnecksville, PA 18078
- Thaddeus Stevens College
750 E King St., Lancaster, PA 17602
- Williamson College of the Trades
106 S. New Middletown Rd., Media, PA 19063
- Johnson College
3427 N. Main Avenue, Scranton, PA 18508
- Milton Hershey School
1201 Homestead Lane, Hershey, PA 17033
- Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science & Technology
540 North Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap, PA 16823
- Berks Career and Technology Center
1057 County Road Leesport, PA 19533
- Clearfield County Career & Technology Center
1620 River Road, Clearfield, PA. 16830
Fax: 814-765-5474, 814-765-5308
- Penn Foster Career School
925 Oak Street, Scranton, PA 18515 USA
- Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center
1500 Fourth Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602
- Somerset County Technology Center
281 Technology Drive, Somerset, PA 15501
Main Office: 814-443-3651, Fax: 814-445-6716
- Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center
2380 Elk Lake School Road, Springville, PA 18844
Phone 570-278-9229, Fax 570-278-3913
- Eastern Center for Arts and Technology
3075 Terwood Road Willow Grove, PA 19090
Main Phone: 215-784-4800 * Fax: 215-784-4801
- AIA Pittsburgh
925 Liberty Avenue, Suite 700, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
- Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center
445 Schoolhouse Road, Johnstown, PA 15904
Office Phone: (814) 266.6073, Toll-Free: (888) 434.4436, Office Fax: (814) 269.4586
- Dauphin County Technical School
6001 Locust Lane, Harrisburg, PA 17109 (717) 652-3170
- Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School
210 Campus Lane, Butler, PA 16001
Phone: 724-282-0735, fax: 724-282-7448
- Monroe Career & Technical Institute
194 Laurel Lake Rd., Bartonsville, PA 18321
If you want to get into an apprenticeship program, contact one of the following:
- KML Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund
652 Ridge Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, 412-262-1830
1718 Heilmandale Road, Lebanon, PA 17046, 717-273-5277
261 Patchway Road, Duncansville, PA 16635, 814-693-0311
- Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Headquarters
1803 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
- Carpenters Joint Apprentice Training Center of Philadelphia & Vicinity
Phone (215) 824-2300, Fax (215) 824-2313
- Carpenters JAC of Philadelphia & Vicinity - Allentown
1818 Vultee Street, Allentown, PA, 18103, US
Phone: (215) 824-2300, Fax: (215) 824-2313
- Associated Builders & Contractors Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter
1500 Gehman Road, Harleysville, PA 19438
894 Marcon Boulevard, Suite 110, Allentown, PA 18109
610.426.0130, 610.279.6666 or 215.256.7976
- ABC Keystone
135 Shellyland Road, Manheim, PA 17545
- General Building Contractors Association
36 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
- Montgomery County OIC
1101 Arch Street, Norristown, Pennsylvania
Criteria to Follow When Choosing a Carpentry Training School
You might have been amazed to discover the copious number of schools in Pennsylvania that offer short courses and certificates in carpentry. Now without prior knowledge, you might make a mistake in choosing. Here are some of the good points when deciding where to take the training:
- Find a school that incorporates in their curriculum other related occupational safety certifications such as OSHA 10 so that you can study the course to boost your chance of passing the certification tests.
- Going to school isn’t cheap so when choosing a school, find the one that offers financial aid or scholarship. A lot of colleges provide such, it is up to you where you would want to apply.
- Choose a school that offers hands-on training. Classroom discussions are good, but the amount of time spent in the workshop for the invaluable hands-on experience weighs more. Hence, lectures and quizzes even should be coupled with good carpentry practice, which could help improve your skills and eventually land you a job as a skilled carpenter later on.
- Choose a school that offers extensive carpentry training. Not only the school provides hands-on opportunities in its curriculum, but the school for carpentry should be able to give you practical experience in order to earn the skills.
- Find a class that has a good student-to-teacher ratio. By the word good means that the number of students should just be enough in a class. Hence, 15 students to a teacher or even perhaps up to 20 students would just be good to have quality teaching and learning time.
Choose a carpentry school with a good reputation in the industry. Referrals from family and friends would be a good start to check if the school is good or not. You can also check online to make sure that you are enrolling in a reputable carpentry school.
- Choose a school that provides good support in terms of proper communication. A school that can answer your queries promptly and resolves your concerns or issues can positively affect your learning.
- Choose a carpentry school with a good success rate. The school for carpentry should be able to produce highly skilled carpenters who will land a good-paying job. Hence, you can check how the graduates were doing through the school’s websites, forums, or even word-of-mouth.
- Choose a school with instructors that have good credentials. It only follows that the instructors should be highly skilled and experienced as it would enable them to teach their students well. If you are unsure if the instructor is good, check if you can sit in the class.
Tuition isn’t cheap so make sure you are enrolling in the right school and program.
Application for Carpentry Apprenticeship Program
- Before you go out there, be sure you have what it takes to be an apprentice. Please see the below requirements.
- Ask colleagues and friends, if you just know someone who had been in the same endeavor as you, to get some insights into where is the best plate to take the apprenticeship program. Their first-hand experience is definitely a good point.
- Once you attained the requirement, contact a union or sponsoring contractor, see the above list for their contact information. You need to have an eye on an eagle since openings for apprenticeships only happen a couple of times a year.
- Once you get accepted into the program, expect to complete around 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 500 hours of classroom training.
Here are the requirements to boost your approval in the apprenticeship program:
- A valid ID showing your age; if you’re 17 you’re only allowed to apply;
- Reliable and sustainable transportation for you to be able to go to the job site
- Have a high school diploma or GED certificate,
- Since the nature of the job as a carpenter apprentice, you need to be in good physical and health condition. An examination may be done.
- You must be a resident of the state or county in order to get accepted;
- You may have to pass a substance abuse test.
- You must pay a certain amount as a deposit.
- You must have an interest and passion to work as a carpenter.
What Credentials You May Need In Order to Boost Your Marketability
- National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) – what I like about this credential is that it is recognized nationwide. So if you got out of work in Pennsylvania, you can use that credential in other neighboring states, if you wish to work there.
- PA Skills Certificates – attaining this certificate involves passing the test and employers does prefer to have candidates with such credentials. For more information, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education at (717) 783-6623 if you would like to inquire about PA Skills Certificate.
Is Joining a Carpenters Union Worth It
Whether or not joining a carpenters union is worth it depends on your goals, circumstances, and values as a carpenter. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of joining a carpenters union to help you make an informed decision:
- Higher Wages: Unionized carpenters generally earn higher wages than their non-union counterparts. This can make a significant difference in a career.
- Benefits: Many unions offer health, dental, vision, and retirement benefits. These can be of significant value, especially if you have a family or are planning for the future.
- Job Security: Unions provide certain protections against unfair termination. You'll often have more job security compared to non-union workers.
- Training and Apprenticeship Programs: Unions often offer formal training and apprenticeship programs that can help members improve their skills and advance in their careers.
- Collective Bargaining: Being part of a union gives you a collective voice when it comes to negotiating wages, benefits, and working conditions.
- Safety Standards: Unions generally emphasize safe working conditions and can advocate for their members if they feel work conditions are unsafe.
- Community: Unions offer a sense of belonging and community among members. They provide networking opportunities and a chance to collaborate and share knowledge.
- Dues: Union members have to pay dues, which can sometimes be significant. You'll need to weigh the cost of these dues against the benefits you receive.
- Potential for Strikes: If a union decides to go on strike, you may be required to participate, which could mean going without pay for an extended period.
- Less Autonomy: Some people feel that being part of a union means they have less individual control over their career decisions.
- Potential Conflicts: There might be instances where you disagree with union decisions or policies, leading to conflicts.
- Limited Job Flexibility: Union jobs might have strict definitions of roles and responsibilities, which can limit flexibility in job tasks.
- Hiring Hall System: Some unions use a hiring hall system, where jobs are distributed based on seniority. This might be a disadvantage for newer members.
The decision to join a carpenters union will be personal. It's essential to evaluate the specific union's reputation, benefits, dues, and opportunities in your region. If possible, speak to both union and non-union carpenters to get a well-rounded view of the pros and cons in your specific context.
How Well Does the Job Pay in Pennsylvania?
If you are a new entrant to this occupation, expect to make around $61,606 per year while more experienced individuals can receive a pay between $53,238 and $71,334 per year. These figures are according to the latest July 25, 2023 report of Salary.com. If you will in the bordering state of New York, the salary of carpenters is significantly higher.
As previously mentioned, employment for carpenters not only in this state but also nationwide is expected to continue to grow due to spending on government infrastructures, population growth resulting in the vast construction of homes, and the boom of the construction industry.
If you have specializations in several types of carpentry then you are in better standing to demand better pay and last in this industry.
Contacting the Authorities
Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry General
Pennsylvania Apprentice Coordinators Association
904 N 2nd St., Harrisburg, PA 17102
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
To Know more about the program and details, follow this https://www.pacareerlink.pa.gov/jponline/Common/LandingPage