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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Carpentry School

Higher Education Articles November 28, 2015

In the United States, the master carpenter title is not officially given through any certification board or carpentry union. Theater commonly uses the term, where the master carpenter is the head set builder.

Choosing a Carpentry School

Community colleges and vocational and technical schools across the United States offer carpentry degree and certificate programs to enable interested students to gain a grasp of carpentry skills. Trade groups and labor unions also offer carpentry apprenticeship programs, sometimes combined with degree or certificate programs.

In this article, we take a look at some important things to consider when selecting a carpentry school:

Types of Programs

Most commonly, schools use apprenticeship programs to train prospective carpenters (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Some schools with carpentry programs also offer short, intensive certificate programs with a specific focus on carpentry skills. Classes other than carpentry or related construction topics don’t have to be taken by enrollees in these programs.

An associate degree may be most suitable for a carpentry student who wishes to learn the trade and earn an undergraduate degree simultaneously. Apprenticeship training is also available in some associate programs. Some schools may also allow graduates from associate degree programs in carpentry to transfer credits to a 4-year bachelor’s degree program in a related field such as construction management.

Theater Classes

Theater classes offered to augment a carpentry program would benefit those seeking master carpenters’ positions working in theater. Elective or general education requirements may be fulfilled by such individuals through theater classes. Familiarity with pertinent theater subject areas, such as technical theater and set design, combined with expertise in carpentry can be the basis for a prospective career as a master carpenter.

Certificate Programs in Carpentry

Incoming students to these certificate programs are often expected to complete prior coursework in or have experience with basic construction skills, basic math, and blueprint reading. The focus of some carpentry certificate programs is solely in carpentry, without coursework in any outside area. In others, students are required to gain basic construction skills; enrollees in some certificate programs are required to complete general education courses in subject areas such as business, computer science, or psychology. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Safe and correct use of power tools
•Construction framing
•Hand tools
•Trim and finish techniques

Each program has its additional coursework including home design, cabinetmaking, and first aid, among other topic areas pertinent to construction and carpentry trades.

Associate Degree Programs in Carpentry

The associate degree curriculum at schools offering both associate certificates and degrees include the addition of elective and general education requirements to the certificate coursework. Some schools don’t include general education requirements such as science, math, and liberal arts in their associate degree curriculum. Rather, their coursework covers additional credit requirements through the inclusion of carpentry-related topic areas such as:

•Construction codes
•Furniture making


Students usually complete apprenticeship programs in 3-4 years; these programs combine on-the-job training and lecture-based instruction, entry-level trainee wages are typically available to students. Concurrent participation in an apprenticeship program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training is a requirement of enrollees in some associate degree programs. Those who complete apprenticeships typically aspire to be journeyman carpenters.

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