There are many different types of carpenters. There are those who build houses, and there are others who create cabinets.
No matter which kind you want to become, carpentry is a challenging and rewarding career. It’s also one of the most accessible blue-collar jobs out there.
Carpentry is a skilled trade that can be learned through training or education at a vocational school. You can also try to go through an apprenticeship if there’s a local company that offers one.
The process of becoming a carpenter varies from company to company, but you can expect to go through a hiring process that includes a background check and interview.
Depending on the company you work for, you can expect a carpenter’s salary to be anywhere between $53,024 and $71,048 annually.
What you make will depend on the type of company you work for, your experience level, and the location of the job. There are different types of carpenters, each of which requires a different set of skills.
If this sounds like something that interests you, read on to find out more about how you can become a carpenter.
How to Become a Carpenter
There are many different ways to become a carpenter. Some people go to school for carpentry and get a degree or complete a short course, while others take an apprenticeship and learn on the job. You can also do a combination of both.
If you decide to go to college, you’ll have to attend a two-year program to receive a degree. After two years, you can then become an apprentice. Are you looking for a school where you can take the training? See the list below.
If you decide to go to an apprenticeship, you’ll have to find an employer who is willing to take on an apprentice. You’ll start off as an apprentice, which means that you’ll learn on the job. If you want to apply for an apprenticeship, see the organizations below that offer apprenticeship programs.
You’ll work under a senior carpenter who will train you and guide you through your first few years in the field. It’s important that you pick the right employer. Make sure they have a good reputation and will teach you everything you need to know.
Trade Schools and Community Colleges in Virginia that Offer Carpenter Training
If you are looking for a carpenter training school where you can register to take a degree or a short course, here are your choices in this state:
- Virginia Community College System
AA 230, 5000 Dawes Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22311, Phone: 703-845-6329
8333 Little River Tnpk, Annandale, VA 22003, Phone: 703-323-3168
Suite 300, 21335 Signal Hill Plaza, Sterling, VA 20164, Phone: 703-450-2551
- Laurel Ridge Community College
173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, Phone: 800-906-5322
6480 College St., Warrenton, VA 20187, Phone: 540-351-1505
200 College Drive, Luray, VA 22835, Phone: 540-843-0722
4151 Weeks Drive, Warrenton, VA 20187, Phone: 540-351-1531
- Virginia Peninsula Community College
1911 Saville Row, Hampton, VA 23666
Phone: (757) 825-4070
- Virginia Technical Institute
201 Ogden Road, Altavista, Virginia 24517
Phone: 434-369-8200, Fax: 434-369-8400
- Centura College
4455 South Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23452
- Home Chantilly Academy
4201 Stringfellow Rd. Chantilly, VA 20151
- Reynolds Community College
1651 E. Parham Rd. Richmond, VA 23228
Phone: (804) 371-3000
- Piedmont Virginia Community College
501 College Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22902
- University of Virginia
1450 Leake Dr, P.O. Box 400726, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4726
- Virginia Western Community College
3094 Colonial Avenue, Roanoke, VA 24015
- Technical and Career Education Center
2925 North Landing Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456
Phone 757.648.5850, Fax 757.427.5558
- Rowanty Technical Center
20000 Rowanty Rd., Carson, VA 23830
Phone: 434.246.5741, 804.732.4950
- The Hanover Center for Trades & Technology
10002 Learning Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23116
Phone: 804-723-2020, Fax: 804-723-2039
- Roanoke Technical Education Center
2200 Grandin Road, Roanoke, VA 24015
Phone 540-853-2803 | Fax 540-853-1062
Key Skills You Need to Enter the Job
There are many different skills that are helpful for becoming a carpenter, such as the ability to work in a team, be able to make basic calculations and read blueprints. You’ll need to have strong upper body strength because you’ll be lifting and moving heavy materials throughout the day.
You may even have to lift heavy materials up a ladder or onto a roof. You also have to have manual dexterity, which is the ability to use your hands to do things like operate power tools or cut materials precisely.
You also have to have the ability to work in a team because you’ll likely be working in a team of other carpenters on large construction projects.
It’s also important that you are safety-conscious. Carpentry is a dangerous job and can lead to serious injuries if you don’t take proper precautions. Make sure to wear the right safety gear, like a hard hat, goggles, and steel-toed shoes.
You may also need to complete an OSHA 10 training especially if the job assignment is on the construction site.
Find an Apprenticeship and Gain as Much On-The-Job Experience as You Can
As mentioned above, when you become an apprentice, you’ll be learning the trade on the job. You’ll be working with a senior carpenter who will guide you through the trade and show you everything you need to know.
During your apprenticeship, you’ll have the opportunity to work on many different projects. This will give you real-world experience and allow you to gain the skills and knowledge you need to become a successful carpenter.
There are certain organizations that accept apprentices. The apprenticeship program lasts about 3-4 years. Completing the program can make you more competitive in the job market (more on this below).
Does Virginia have a carpenters union? Yes, It’s the UBC. See below for details to contact them.
- Mid-Atlantic Carpenters Training Centers (UBC)
10238 Sycamore Drive, Ashland, VA, 23005, Phone: (301) 736-1696
302 Roxbury Industrial Center, Charles City, VA, 23030, Phone: (804) 687-2455
- Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.
Northern Virginia - 42680 Trade West Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
Central Virginia - 1600 East Parham Road, Richmond, VA 23228
Phone: (804) 346 – 4222
Apprentices are paid during their stay in the program. Being an apprentice is great because you can make a living while learning the trade.
When applying, here is what you need to do:
- Complete the requirements – typically here are what you need to have: a high school diploma or a GED, be at least 18 years old, be in excellent physical condition, and have the determination to succeed in this career.
- Submit an application - you can visit the website of the organization you want to join. There you’ll find if the applications are open. If so, instructions on how to submit the application are there.
- Attend the interview – where you are one of the lucky ones who were for an interview, congratulations, you are now in a better standing to get accepted. In the interview, you just have to answer simple questions and prove your worth to the interview panel.
- Wait for the notification – upon passing the interview, your name will be put on the list of qualified apprentices. In just a week or two, you will receive a call for work deployment.
What Does a Carpenter Do?
Carpenters build structures like houses, buildings, fences, and furniture. What people don’t realize is that there are many different types of carpenters.
There are carpenters who specialize in roofing, those who specialize in finishing and stairs, and others who specialize in framing.
Carpenters are similar to construction workers in the sense that they build new structures or repair existing structures. If you’re looking to become a carpenter, you’ll be responsible for measuring, planning, and constructing different structures.
You’ll also be responsible for hiring other workers (if you’re part of a large construction project). You may have to use hand tools or power tools like a table saw or an electric drill. You may also have to use heavy machinery.
How Much Can You Make as a Carpenter Working in Virginia?
If you are going to work in Virginia as a carpenter, you can expect a very competitive salary. This is one of the best states to work in this field.
The salary of carpenters in this state is averaging about $61,359 per year which is considered high. But since there are other factors that affect how much you’re going to get, the salary ranges between $53,024 and $71,048. The factors involved that have significant influence are the location and experience. Those figures are in accordance with the latest July 25, 2023 report of Salary.com. If you will work in the bordering state of West Virginia, the salary is significantly lower.
If this sounds attractive to you, it is now the time to make a move. Start the journey now. Take the training and have a career that lasts a lifetime.
How to Get a Job as a Carpenter
Getting a job as a carpenter typically involves a combination of education, hands-on experience, and networking. Here are some steps you can follow to pursue a carpentry career:
- Education: Enroll in carpentry courses at vocational schools or community colleges.
- Apprenticeship: Join a carpenter's apprenticeship for hands-on training.
- Portfolio: Document and showcase your work.
- Certifications: Obtain necessary licenses or certifications for your area.
- Networking: Join carpentry unions or trade organizations.
- Resume & Cover Letter: Highlight carpentry skills and experiences.
- Job Search: Use online job boards, company websites, and local newspapers.
- Interview Preparation: Ready yourself for common carpentry interview questions.
- Specialization: Consider focusing on a specific carpentry niche.
- Stay Updated: Continuously refresh your skills and knowledge in the field.
- Build Reputation: Prioritize reliability, quality work, and good communication.
Starting a career in carpentry often requires persistence and continuous learning. By following these steps and maintaining a commitment to the craft, you can increase your chances of finding a fulfilling job in the field.
Carpentry is a great blue-collar job that offers a lot of flexibility and opportunity. There are many different types of carpenters, and there are various certification options.
If you want to become a carpenter, make sure you’re prepared by learning the basics, gaining experience, and working hard. It’s not an easy job, but it can be very rewarding.
There are trade schools, community colleges, and contractors that offer training and apprenticeship in Virginia. It is up to you what path you want to pursue: take a short course or complete an apprenticeship.