WOODN'T you like to know?
As the world becomes increasingly more digital and fast-paced, we seem to place a focus on producing as much as possible, as quickly as possible, for as little money as possible.
While this sense of urgency can be exciting (and profitable), it brings with it a risk of obsoletion and excessive consumerism. Why bother repairing it if you can just buy a new one for the same price, amiright?!
Trades that may take more time, energy, material, and skill to achieve a goal are at risk of disappearing. Shoe cobblers, electrical repairmen, handymen, and seamstresses all seem to be dwindling in number.
Another such trade is that of the carpenter. Do carpenters still exist? And if so, should they? What does it mean to be a carpenter in the modern world?
Out of curiosity, we decided to do some digging.
The State of Carpentry in the United States: What, Where, Why, Who, and How Much
If you think carpenters no longer exist, you’re half wrong and half right.
Carpenters DO still exist, but they are few and far between. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently just about a million carpentry positions in the US—about 0.31% of the population.
Carpenters can earn themselves a pretty penny. In 2018, the median average annual salary of a carpenter was $46,590, which amounts to approximately $22.40 per hour. And it’s not just men that can play with wood, though the industry is overwhelmingly male. Women make up just 2% of the US carpentry industry—that’s about 20,900 woodworking women.
Considering that the average hourly rate in the US is $7.25 and no formal college education is required to become a carpenter, why aren’t there more homies chopping wood?
A couple of reasons: one, it’s an indoors-and-outdoors physical profession with the risk of sustaining work-related injuries.
Another possible explanation could be that Millennials are now the majority of the workforce, and are naturally more inclined to explore job opportunities in the digital world.
The third explanation could be the biggest culprit: the unfair, unflattering, and untrue media portrayal of blue-collar workers like carpenters. For years, carpenters have been depicted on TV as sweaty, dirty, overweight, lazy, and almost always with their butt crack on display. Work that doesn’t require a fancy college degree is viewed as “less than”—though perhaps that viewpoint is most vehemently expressed by those who secretly regret going into crushing debt for a degree they don’t use or even want.
Carpenters are Cool
Few people get to come home after a long day of work and claim that they physically brought an idea to life with just their hands and a few tools. The satisfaction that comes from creating something and working with your hands IS cool, and it’s not something people do much anymore.
Carpenters also enjoy variety in their day-to-day work life. They work in a variety of locations and across many different industries. Excluding the (important) role that carpenters play in general construction jobs, here’s an overview of what else carpenters do:
Build Beautiful Structures & Objects
Carpenters are responsible for the planning, building, and maintenance of wooden structures. It can be anything from handmade timber cabins and custom kitchen cabinets to home decor and dining table sets.
…And Maybe Not-So-Beautiful, But Necessary, Structures
A carpenter doesn’t just create beautiful things. They also serve a functional purpose that goes beyond aesthetics. Carpenters play a vital role in the design and construction of temporary frame shelters, sewer supports, scaffolds, and concrete forms—all boring-sounding but necessary components of reliable infrastructure.
Smash Consumerism & Do Repair Work
If you still doubt the existence of carpenters, ask yourself this question: who repairs all the wooden structures scattered around our hometowns? Birch, please. Carpenters, of course!
Wood You Like to Hear Some Fun Facts?
Several celebrities are trained carpenters, including Harrison Ford, Mark Harmon, Nick Offerman, Bernie Sanders, Ty Pennington, and, OH YEAH, Jesus Christ himself. The list of carpenters turned celebrities goes on and on.
More than 27% of all carpenters are self-employed. This rate of self-employment is considered far above average. If you want to be your own boss, carpentry might open that (wooden) door for you.
The employment of carpenters is forecasted to grow by 8% from 2018 to 2028—faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.
- Urban Honolulu (Hawaii), Napa (California), Santa Rosa (California), Atlantic City (New Jersey), and Chicago (Illinois) are the metropolitan areas that pay carpenters the highest salaries.
How to Become a Carpenter
Carpenters are well paid. They don’t have to sink thousands of dollars into a college degree. They get to do all sorts of neat jobs and make cool stuff. At this point, who *wouldn’t* want to become a carpenter?
If you’re interested, there are several ways you can get on track. The easiest and most common method is via apprenticeship. A typical apprenticeship requires 144 hours of technical training per year, as well as 2,000 hours of paid on-site training. Did we mention that you’ll get paid to train?
Apprenticeships are offered by independent carpentry companies as well as unions and contractor associations. If you want to get a head start on your carpentry training while you’re investigating different apprenticeships being offered in your area, rent the tools you’ll need from Sparetoolz.
We hope you’re now convinced that carpenters still exist and that the carpentry industry, while not what it once was, is a viable career option for anyone no matter your age, gender, or education. Carpenters are a dying breed, and we challenge you to do all that you can to remove carpenters from the list of endangered species.