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Carpentry - Overview


Carpentry programs prepare people to build, maintain, and repair structures. Students learn to read blueprints, choose materials, and use tools. They study building codes and learn to estimate costs.

Have you ever been lucky enough to see the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, the Coliseum in Rome, or St. Paul's Cathedral in London? Maybe you've seen a picture of one of these sites? If so, you've experienced some of the great miracles in the history of carpentry and building construction.

But you don't need to travel the world to appreciate the work of a carpenter. Consider your favorite structure. Maybe it's the church your family attends, or a bridge that crosses through the city where you live, or a stadium where you love to watch baseball games. Carpenters change blueprints to buildings such as these by laying foundations and raising walls, roofs, and beams.

As you might imagine, there are a lot of steps involved in carpentry. And as a carpenter, you could work on any of these different steps. Because half of all construction work is renovation and repair, you might do remodeling. Or for large projects, you might specialize in one phase of the work such as doing the interior trim or setting up scaffolding.

Whether you specialize in one aspect of construction or work on all aspects, you have to know how to read plans, measure materials for cutting, and use hand and power tools safely. This enables you to cut, assemble, and install materials according to written plans - the basics of carpentry.

An education in carpentry prepares you for paid apprenticeships in many divisions of the field. You could be a homebuilder's assistant, a general contractor, or a maintenance carpenter, to name a few examples. As an apprentice, you learn more aspects of the trade and advance your skills. Upon completion, you can get trade certification or licensing.

Many technical and community colleges offer programs in carpentry. In general, you can earn either a certificate or an associate degree. These programs vary in length but typically take between one and two years of full-time study after high school.

During your apprenticeship, you may choose to specialize in:

• Bridges, Piers, or Trestles
• Fences and Farm Buildings
• Malls and Shopping Centers
• New Construction
• Office Buildings
• Remodeling
• Residential Construction

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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