While some people may be naturally gifted when it comes to carpentry and woodworking, for others carpentry will require following a particular educational path. Most carpenters do not hold college degrees for their profession, but rather have pursued a vocational program in order to learn the fine art of carpentry. There are various types of carpentry, each with their unique demands and requirements.
Typically a carpenter will undergo an apprenticeship with a trade union. These apprenticeships may fall under one of several unions, including stagecraft (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) for scenic set carpentry, or the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. Both of these trade unions date back to the 1880s in the United States and offer intensive apprenticeship programs involving both theoretical and hands-on instruction. Such apprenticeship programs can range from 3 to 4 years, or longer, and offer training provided by skilled carpenters and those trained in the craft.
Other options for gaining entrance into the rewarding world of carpentry include vocational and trade schools which provide hands-on instruction in woodworking and the fundamentals of carpentry. Additional training involves mathematics, use of the tools of the trade, code and other regulatory requirements, the ability to accurately read blueprints, physical ability to endure the rigors of carpentry, and safety instruction. Depending on the focus of the program or apprenticeship, students will also learn fall arrest basics and rigging instruction. If engaged in cabinet building, other skills needed may include the proficient use of chemical items such as stains, strippers, and paints used in the construction of cabinets, furniture, and sets.
Most apprenticeship and vocational programs will require a GED in order to participate. Candidates should be physically fit and able to move and manipulate wood and related products, as well as deftly handle the equipment used (such as table saws, routers, band saws) based upon the particular specialty pursued.
Carpentry offers a creative and lucrative career typically without the need for higher education. It entails a passion and technical skills most commonly afforded through a trade apprenticship or vocational training intended to teach the specific skills and methodologies of the craft. Whether one intends to build homes, furniture, or sets for theatrical productions, a career in carpentry can be rewarding and challenging.