• Expand/collapse Click here for a list of occupations to which this description applies.

    The Work

    Carpenters work with power and hand tools. They build forms for concrete and frame buildings, walls, footings, columns and stairs. Wood framing includes house building, roofs, stairs, decking and sheathing. Carpenters install doors, windows, storefronts and handrails, build cabinets, counter tops and finished stair handrails. They also work on drywalling, wood flooring, metal jams and ceilings.

    Carpenters do interior and exterior finish work, work with drywall and metal studs, install other interior systems, welding and many other related work processes. They also must read blueprints, and must measure accurately and calculate dimensions. They may be involved in the original construction or remodel of almost every kind of structure, including houses and commercial buildings, bridges, churches or factories, and highways.

    Working Conditions

    The work is very physical and involves a good deal of standing, climbing, kneeling, lifting and squatting. Work is done both indoors and outdoors, depending upon the stage and nature of construction and a person's area of emphasis. Location of the job site generally changes several times during the year. You may need to travel and relocate to take an available job. One day you may work inside where it is warm and dry and the next day outside where it is cold and wet. You may work in a hole 100 feet below ground or on scaffolds ten stories above ground. You must be in good health, meet certain strength requirements, be agile and have good hand-eye coordination. Work conditions vary with each job. Some are quite strenuous, while others such as cabinetry and finish work, are very delicate and precise.

    The Apprenticeship

    This program, depending upon trade, requires 3000-8000 (two to four years) hours to complete and attendance at related raining classes for 144-603 hours per year. Some programs schedule four one-week daytime classes for carpenters and ten winter weekends for millwrights.

    Apprenticeship Entry Requirements
    • At least 17 years old.
    • Physically able to perform the work of the trade.
    • Sufficient education to meet trade requirements.
    • Have access to dependable transportation to job sites.
    • Complete pre-employment safety/orientation class.
    • Have required hand tools.
    • Proof of residency in your apprenticeship region.
    • Must pass qualifying entry exam.

End of main content, page footer follows.

Access Washington official state portal

  © Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries. Use of this site is subject to the laws of the state of Washington.

Help us improve