Now that you’ve made up your mind that being a carpenter is the job you want to pursue; you will be thinking now how and where you can start.
There are a few ways you can take to be a carpenter in Washington. You can enroll in a two-year associate degree, start as a laborer and be a carpenter assistant, or complete the on-the-job training as an apprentice.
While there are many routes you might take, being a carpenter apprentice is popular. The apprenticeship program is a combination of classroom and on-the-job training with the opportunity to make a living while learning the skills with no cost in tuition - this may perhaps be the main reason why you would choose apprenticeship if you want to be a carpenter.
Other reasons why this career is very attractive are that the pay is good and you can start as early as 17 without the hassle of paying for a student loan.
Being a carpenter may seem a straightforward process, but without prior knowledge and preparation, you could end up wasting time. Now, to help get started, we made this article.
Please read on…
How to Become a Carpenter
Some of the carpenters I know started as helpers on construction sites. They learn the skills by assisting other professionals onsite. As they spend time working, they gain experience and start to work independently until they learn the knowledge and practical skills needed for the job as a carpenter.
You also have the selection of completing a certificate or a degree program offered by a community college in your area and this is a good chance to propel your carpentry knowledge. You may also find online carpentry classes that offer foundational knowledge that will teach you the “ins” and “outs” of the trade.
However, that is not always the case. Most people do become apprentices and it is a popular way to become a carpenter and gain the hands-on skills needed for the job. Generally, the time it takes to complete an apprenticeship program is 3-4 years of mixed classroom instructions and on-the-job training.
If you would like to follow this apprenticeship route, here are some of the steps you need to do:
How to Apply for the Apprenticeship Program
Basically, here are the steps you need to take in order to apply for the apprenticeship program of a union.
- Know the requirements to become a carpenter apprentice. In order to verify your eligibility, you must submit the requirements, see below for the list. You may also be asked to submit a resume and attend a trade orientation.
- Find a union or contractor in Washington where you want to take the apprenticeship program. See the below list for the union that offers such a program.
- Apply in person on one of the scheduled dates of application. Don’t miss these dates otherwise, you will wait again until the vacancies reopen. And a minimal application fee must be submitted together with the application.
- Take the test. As part of the hiring process, you will be required to pass the test. The test covers high school math and other math related to carpentry such as fractions, fractions, and basic geometry. Don’t get pressured, the test is easy to pass. The test time and location will be given to you when you apply.
- Take the interview. As a standard hiring process, you will be given a schedule to attend the interview. You just have to prove that you have the qualifications for the job as a carpenter apprentice. Don’t get worried, it is just as easy as passing the regular job interview, there are not many questions to ask.
- Wait for the union to contact you. After you’ve passed the test and had the interview, you will be included on a list of approved apprentice applicants. Once there’s a demand for workers of your skillset, you will receive a call to complete your membership and other paperwork.
Carpenter Training Schools in Washington Where You Can Enroll
If you are looking for a carpentry training school where you can take the program or apply for an apprenticeship, here are what you can find in Washington:
- Renton Technical College
3000 NE 4th Street, Bldg. L., Renton, WA 98056
- Wood Technology Center - Seattle Central College
2310 S. Lane St., Seattle, WA 98144
206.934.5460 (phone); 206.934.5462 (fax)
- Construction Industry Training Council of Washington
Toll-free 1.877.707.2482 – Fax 425.462.7391
- Inland Northwest Chapter Associated General Contractors Carpenters AC
2110 N. Fancher Rd., Spokane, WA 99212
Phone: (509) 534-0502
- Edmonds Community College
20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood, Washington 98036-5912
- Columbia Basin College
2600 N. 20th Ave., Pasco, WA 99301
- Gateway Community College
Maricopa County Community College
108 N. 40th Street Phoenix, AZ 85034
- Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom
9401 Farwest Dr SW, Lakewood, Washington 98498-1999
- Grays Harbor College
1620 Edward P Smith Drive, Aberdeen, Washington 98520-7599
Phone: 360-532-9020; Toll Free: 800-562-4830; Fax: 360-538-4299
- Bates Technical College
1101 S Yakima Ave, Tacoma, Washington 98405
- Seattle Community College-Central Campus
1701 Broadway Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98122
- Spokane Community College
1810 North Greene Street, Spokane, Washington 99217-5399
- Walla Walla Community College
500 Tausick Way, Walla Walla, Washington 99362-9267
- Green River College
12401 SE 320TH Street, Auburn
Phone 253-833-9111; 253-288-3359 TDD
1221 D Street NE, Auburn
1414 Griffin Avenue, Enumclaw
Phone 253-288-3400; 253-288-3485 FAX
417 Ramsay Way, Suite 112, Kent
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
3000 NE 4th Street, Bldg. L, Renton, WA, 98056
Phone: (425) 235-2465; Fax: (425) 235-7831
401 E Hickox Rd, Mount Vernon, WA, 98273,
Phone: (360) 428-2933; Fax: (360) 428-2936
127 E. Augusta, Suite 102, Spokane, WA, 99207
Phone: (425) 235-2465; Fax: (425) 235-7831
2575 Williamson Place, Dupont, WA, 98327
Phone: (253) 393-6275
- Northwest Carpenter's Institute of Washington
20424 72nd Ave South, Kent, WA 98032
Phone: (253) 437-5235; Fax: (253) 437-5807
3000 NE 4th Street Bldg L, Renton, WA 98056
Phone: (425) 235-2465
4208 W Clearwater Ave, Ste D, Kennewick, WA 99336
Phone: (509) 783-6215
127 E. Augusta, Suite 102, Spokane, WA 99207
Phone: (509) 532-8833; Fax: (509) 532-8811
401 E. Hickox Road, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Phone: (360) 428-2933; Fax: (360) 428-2936
2575 Williamson Pl, DuPont, WA 98327
Phone: (253) 393-6275
Tips for Chossing a Carpenter Training School
Certainly! Here are concise tips for choosing a carpenter training school:
- Accreditation: Ensure the school is recognized by a reputable accrediting body.
- Curriculum: Check that it aligns with your career goals and covers both theory and hands-on training.
- Facilities: Look for modern, up-to-date workshops and tools.
- Instructors: Prefer schools with experienced and qualified instructors.
- Placement Rates: Consider schools with higher job placement rates post-training.
- Reviews: Seek feedback from past students about their experiences.
- Cost: Compare tuition and look for financial aid options.
- Location: Consider proximity to home or job opportunities.
- Duration: Check the length of the program to ensure it fits your timeline.
- Affiliations: Schools linked with unions or industry organizations might offer additional benefits.
Doing thorough research and visiting potential schools in person will help ensure you make an informed decision.
What Do You Need to Become a Carpenter Apprentice?
Here are the requirements you need to apply for an apprenticeship program:
- You need to be at least 17 years old to apply for an apprenticeship program
- Since the nature of work is physically demanding, you need to have very good body conditioning
- You need to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate as its equivalent
- You need to submit a valid government-issued ID to prove your identity
- In some circumstances, you must have a substance abuse screening prior to getting accepted
The cost involved in the application is inexpensive, you don’t need to have financial aid or a grant to support your training.
Cost of Applying for an Apprenticeship Program
Usually, the cost for applying as an apprentice is free but there is some minimal amount involved that covers the payment of administrative fees.
Other expenses you have to shoulder are the textbook and supplies which are approximately $100 for the whole duration of the program, and the union dues which cost around $20-$30 per month.
The cost of completing the carpenter apprenticeship is very minimal.
In fact, you don’t have to have financial aid to support your education. It is estimated that you will receive $35,000 worth of training over the whole duration of the apprenticeship program.
What Would be Your Wages as an Apprentice?
As a beginner apprentice, your wage will start at 60% of the journeyman’s rate. As you take the on-the-job training, you will get an additional 5% increase for every 1,000 hours of field experience, which is approximately 6 months of training including the classroom training.
Ultimately, when you have completed the whole apprenticeship program, which is 8,000 hours or 4 years of on-the-job training, you will get the full 100% of the journeyman’s pay rate.
The rate will depend on the city or location where you are working in Washington. The assignment location plays a crucial role in how much you will receive as a carpenter.
Cost of Taking a Certificate or Associate Degree in Carpentry
If you are planning to take a certificate, it would cost you around $1,000 to $10,000 in tuition that could take up to 1 year to complete. A certificate is a starting point if you like to have prior knowledge of the trade.
While the certificate is a good pathway, an associate degree is another option that takes two years to complete. The associate's program typically costs about $6,500 - $15,500.
Please see the list of schools above to make an inquiry about their program.
What makes an apprenticeship the number one choice for people who want to be carpenters is it involves zero to minimal cost. The application process is straightforward, you just have to find a contractor or a union that accepts apprentices and submit the requirements.
Salary of Carpenters in Washington State 2023
The average salary of carpenters who are working in Washington is $66,229, but since there’s a deviation because of some factors, the salary falls between $57,233 and $76,688. These figures are based on the latest July 25, 2023 report of Salary.com. If you will work in Oregon, the salary is significantly lower.
The job outlook will remain strong, this is because of the government expenditures in projects such as the Puget Sound transit system that will last 30 years to construct and the demand to construct new homes and buildings due to the growing population, the demand for carpenter trade will remain high.
If you are looking for a stable job where you can build a career, being a carpenter surely pays well and gives you the satisfaction you are longing for from a job.
Job Outlook for Carpenters
The job outlook for carpenters can be influenced by a variety of factors including economic conditions, housing markets, construction trends, and technological advances. As of my last training data up to September 2021, here's a general overview of the job outlook for carpenters:
- Steady Demand: Carpenters have traditionally been in demand because of the continual need for construction and repair of buildings, infrastructure, and other structures. New housing developments, commercial buildings, and public infrastructure often require the skills of carpenters.
- Economic Factors: The demand for carpenters can be sensitive to economic conditions. In times of economic downturn, construction projects might slow down, leading to decreased demand for carpentry services. Conversely, in times of economic growth, the demand often increases.
- Renovation and Retrofitting: As buildings age, there's a growing need for renovation and retrofitting. This can result in increased demand for carpenters, especially in urban areas with older housing stock. Additionally, interest in sustainable building practices and energy efficiency can lead to retrofitting projects that require carpentry skills.
- Technological Advancements: While technology can introduce tools and methods that make certain tasks more efficient, the hands-on skill and expertise of a carpenter remain indispensable for many projects. However, carpenters may need to adapt to new technologies and materials as they become standard in the industry.
- Specialization: As with many trades, there's a trend toward specialization. Carpenters who specialize in areas like finish carpentry, historic restoration, or green building practices might find niche markets with consistent demand.
- Training and Apprenticeship: Entering the carpentry field often requires a period of training or apprenticeship. Those who have completed formal apprenticeships or have certifications might have better job prospects than those without such credentials.
- Geographical Variations: The demand for carpenters can vary by region. Areas experiencing population growth, new development, or significant infrastructure investments might have a higher demand for carpenters than areas with slow or negative growth.
- Alternative Building Methods: Some modern construction methods, like prefabricated or modular construction, can reduce the demand for on-site carpentry. However, the assembly and finishing of such modules still often require carpentry skills.
In the future, the job outlook for carpenters will continue to be influenced by economic conditions, construction trends, and technological advancements. It's beneficial for carpenters to remain adaptable, continuously upgrading their skills, and staying informed about industry changes to maximize their job opportunities.
Career Advancements of Carpenters
Every project has to have a cost estimator. It is one of the skills you can develop through becoming a carpenter. After spending years on the job and acquiring valuable experience, you will inevitably develop that skill enabling you to estimate the amount of time and money and manpower to finish a particular project.
Being a building inspector is another area where your skill can expand into. The work of a building inspector covers review and approval of building plans, supervise sites to make sure that the construction is up to code, and inspect all systems of new building projects.
Some contractors have started their business as a humble carpenter. Through years of experience, they become familiar with and establish their own contracting firm. One potential opportunity is to utilize your ability to put up your own contracting business.
To Make a Conclusion
Indeed, being a carpenter in Washington can be a rewarding job you can get into that can provide you with a lot of opportunities to build a long-lasting career.
You just have to spend some time and effort in completing a carpenter apprenticeship program that will catapult you to become a journeyman level. And the rest will be on your shoulder. You could be a specialist in framing, joiner, truss, flooring, or a cabinet or a trim expert, the list goes on and on.
We wish you good luck on the next path of your life!