how to become a carpenter in IllinoisThe common question we heard from beginners is whether should I pursue a career as a carpenter. It is subjective since this profession might be right for lots of people but it doesn’t mean this job is suited to you.

But if you really like being a carpenter and you are in the state of Illinois, we made this short guide for you. However, just like any other career, you need to have an education as employers prefer to hire those skilled candidates.

The first thing that you might think of is by enrolling in a short course or certificate offered by a carpentry school, please see the below list.

The formal training on how to become a qualified carpenter can be taken in the community college or technical school. But many people choose to apply for apprenticeship training.



If you land here to search for a carpenter training school in Illinois, here are what you can find in this state:

  • Southwestern Illinois College
    2500 Carlyle Ave., Belleville, IL 62221, 618-235-2700
    4950 Maryville Road, Granite City, IL 62040, 618-931-0600
    500 W. South Fourth St., Red Bud, IL 62278, 618-282-6682
    City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College
    180 N. Wabash Chicago, IL 60601
    Phone: (773) COLLEGE

  • Kaskaskia College
    27210 College Road, Centralia, Illinois 62801
    Phone: (618) 545-3000, (800) 642-0859
    Southeastern Illinois College
    3575 College Rd., Harrisburg, IL 62946
    Phone: 618.252.5400 ; 866.338.2742

  • Prairie State College
    4821 Southwick Dr., Matteson, IL 60443, (708) 709-3750
    202 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights, IL 60411, (708) 709-3500

  • Black Hawk College
    26230 Black Hawk Road, Galva, IL 61434
    Phone: 309-854-1700
    Being an apprentice is what most carpenters to do so if you want to become one, here are the unions or contractors that offer such as program.

  • Chicago & Northeast Illinois District of Carpenters Apprentice & Training Program
    1256 Estes Avenue, Elk Grove Village, Illinois 60007
    Phone (847) 640-7373
    Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters
    12 East Erie St. Chicago, IL 60611-2796
    Phone: 312-787-3076; Fax: 312-951-1540

  • Project HOOD Communities Development Corporation
    6330 South King Drive, Chicago, IL 60637, 773-752-6055

  • Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. of Illinois
    Elk Grove Village, IL 60007, 847-709-2960

  • Carpenters Union - Local 272
    821 Chicago Road - Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411
    Phone: 708-755-6879



How to Choose the Best Carpenter School

It is always practical to take important factors into account before you decide on the school. Here are some of the important factors you should consider to find the best school.

  1. Find a training school that has modern training facilities. The course is comprised of both classroom lectures and practical training. It is therefore important for the school to have facilities well-equipped with the required amenities. You can personally visit the school you preferred to enroll in to see their facilities.

  2. Find a class with a low student-to-instructor ratio. The smaller number of students in the class, the more significant the advantages are for personalized attention resulting in more engagement of students in the classroom. Find a carpentry class with a small number of students.

  3. Find a school with a top-notch instructor. If you are serious about learning carpentry, find a class that is taught by an instructor with intensive experience in the craft so that you receive knowledge from the best. You can ask the school about their instructor’s professional background.

  4. Find a class with intensive hours of practical training. As you browse through the program, you’ll discover that it is important to complete both theoretical and as well as practical training. Although these are significant but spending more time in practical training will give you the best experience to learn the skills.

  5. Find a school that gives tuition discounts. Completing a degree or certificate in carpentry does involve some amount of money. It would ease you significantly paying the tuition if you can find a training provider that offers discounts or even scholarships.

  6. Look into the programs you are considering and get advice. Talk with your colleagues and someone you know who is already in the industry for their opinions and meticulously review the program you are considering and then find the right school that offers such a program.

  7. Find an apprenticeship program that is easy to apply and meet the requirements. If you are considering an apprenticeship, it is up to you where you want to apply – in a union or through the contractor depending on your circumstances.



How Much Does the Carpentry Training Cost

If you would like to take a certificate in carpentry that takes about a year to complete it would cost you $1000 to $7,000 depending on the school and the program you would like to take.

On the other hand, if you choose to take the associate degree that tends to be longer than a certificate program, expect the cost would range between $5,000 and $20,000. An associate degree in carpentry takes more time to complete because it covers carpentry skills in addition to other courses such as math, blueprint reading, computer skills and other topics that are necessary to achieve a supervisor position.

Please do keep in mind that the mentioned figures above are not final. You can lower your tuition by availing financial aid.
This is where finding a school that gives a good tuition discount or even a full scholarship will be handy. Discounts and scholarships will help you significantly pay your tuition.

However, if your inclination is to go through an apprenticeship program, the cost if very minimal. You will only spend on the registration fee.

Most aspiring carpenters choose to enter this trade by applying to the apprenticeship program. Find a union or a contractor, get a recommendation from them, wait for apprentice openings, and then apply. But be sure you have what it takes as unions are very strict in accepting applicants. Please refer below.



How to Apply for Carpenter Apprenticeship Program

If you are meeting the minimum requirements, please see below, then you may apply to become an apprentice. Being an apprentice is a great way to make a living while learning to become a skilled carpenter.

Just like any course in college, it will take up to four (4) years to complete the training program. There are three levels to undergo - you’ll start as an apprentice, then become a journeyman, and then finally a master carpenter.

If you are decided to become an apprentice, you may apply to either Carpenters Union Local 272 or in Chicago & Northeast Illinois District of Carpenters Apprentice & Training Program. Please be sure the enrolment is open, you can call them first, please see above for the contact information.

Being an apprentice has great rewards such as good pay and benefits. During your first year, you will get 40% of the journeyman’s wage, 50% in the second year, 65% in the third year, and 80% in the fourth year. Since the job scope and work location affect you, we cannot give an exact figure of how much you would make. Aside from money, you will also become eligible for health insurance and pension, and job security.



Minimum Requirements for the Apprentice Program

  • Being at least 17 years old is enough to apply and get accepted into the apprenticeship program
  • You will need a high school diploma or a GED certificate as its equivalent
  • You may need your social security card
  • Some unions may only accept residents of Illinois or a particular region; it would be better to inquire prior to the application
  • Since the nature of the job is physically demanding, you must be physically fit

Application Process

  1. Meet the minimum requirements stated above.
  2. Find an office of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) closest to you to get an application form. Submit it back to them after filling it out.
  3. You need to be recommended or referred by a referral agency such as a local carpenters’ union, contractor or IDES. A recommendation letter is what you need.
  4. The referral agency will be notified that apprentice openings are available.
  5. When you are selected, you will receive a call to advise you to accomplish the application (submission of requirements and documents).
  6. Take the test and attend the orientation.

Do You Need Certification or License

As of this writing, carpenters don’t require certification or license to work in Illinois. However, the certification is good to document and market your skills and enhance employment prospects. If you opt to get certified, here are your options:

  • National Association of the Remodeling Industry certifies applicants to be Certified Lead Carpenter.
  • You may also pursue certification in green building and sustainability technology. This can be achieved by passing the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Green Associate exam.
  • Certified Installer and Sand & Finisher - National Wood Flooring Association
  • Door + Hardware Consultant Level I, II & III - Door and Hardware Institute
  • Fenestration Associate, Installation Masters & Fenestration Master - American Architectural Manufacturers Association
  • Certified Graduate Associate - National Association of Home Builders



How to Find a Job

Finding a job as a carpenter can be a daunting task nowadays, especially when there are seldom construction developments in a particular region or during the transition to the colder season. Carpenters openings could be elusive in particular months of the year but it should not discourage you from getting a job. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Browse through the classified ads in the newspaper or log in to Craigslist there you could easily find local job openings that are categorized by trade. You can do a simple Google search and see what pops up in the result. Going online is fast and convenient to prospect for job openings.

  • Job seekers can now connect with employers or vice versa with the newly-launched website of Illinois. Please follow to log in. It is easy for employers to find you or find a job offered by employers.

  • Contact colleagues to network. Contacting your friends, family, and colleagues in construction is a great way to put your intention out there to let them know that you are available. You would be surprised that it is effective to find a job through networking.

  • If you are having a hard time finding a job despite the hard work you’ve done, why not try finding work through a recruitment agency? Recruitment agencies are actively looking for qualified talents like you.
  • If all things failed, you might be considering doing cold calling. Contact the company you are interested in, ask about their present job vacancies and submit a resume for possible application.

Salary of Carpenters in Illinois

The average salary of carpenters working in the beautiful state of Illinois is $63,427 but since there’s a deviation, it ranges between $54,811 and $73,443. There are a number of factors affecting how much you would receive – your experience as a carpenter, the city or location where you are working, certification, and other applicable skills are the obvious aspects.

The numbers mentioned above are based on the July 25, 2023 report of In the neighboring state of Indiana, the salary is comparatively lower compared to Illinois.

The employment outlook for carpenters is great. This profession is expected to increase by 8% until the year 2026. This means you could expect long-term employment in the industry. The increasing population will result in the construction of more homes and apartment buildings. The industry will hire more carpenters to augment the need for more workforce.



To Make a Finalization

Before you invest your precious time and money in the training to become a carpenter in Illinois, you need to have a clear notion of what to do and expect. Things like job interest, apprenticeship, and cost and job outlook are important when choosing a career.

Everyone has to start somewhere. As a young buck, you can start as a helper in the construction to learn practical skills and to make it official, you can apply becoming an apprentice – that’s what most people started their career.

Illinois has good opportunities for carpenters, the continuous boom in the construction industry and infrastructure developments are considered the main reason why there’s a great demand for talents like you in the present and in the coming years.

We wish you good luck on your chosen path!

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