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For more information about this trade, contact the training co-ordinator.

What does a Carpenter do?

Carpenters are vital to almost every facet of the construction industry. They must have expertise in a wide variety of skills that are needed in commercial construction as well as in residential building and structural maintenance. On residential sites, carpenters crib basements, build house frameworks, walls, roofs and exterior finishes, and install doors, windows, flooring, cabinets, stairs, handrails, paneling, moulding and ceiling tiles. At construction locations they are responsible for building concrete forms, scaffolding, bridges, trestles, tunnels, shelters, towers and other structures. Those who work in maintenance may repair and remodel existing structures of all kinds. Regardless of the work, a certified carpenter is trained to:

  • prepare the foundations of buildings
  • install beams, girders and footing forms
  • build stairs and stair forms
  • construct sloped and unequal pitch roofs
  • apply wall and ceiling coverings, inside and outside
  • install trim, doors, baseboards, mouldings, cabinets and other finish carpentry
  • lay floors of resilient tile or hardwood strips
  • erect and insulate walls, ceilings and floors
  • fireproof beams and columns

What skills/abilities are required?

Carpentry is an obvious choice for those who are good at working with their hands and using hand and power tools. However, modern carpentry demands both manual skills and the ability to read drawings, sketches and plans for building information. Carpenters need to work accurately, be able to estimate the cost of jobs, and determine and order the materials needed for the job. Communication skills are also important since carpenters work with other tradespeople. To be successful in their trade, carpenters must be able to:

  • solve mathematical problems quickly and accurately to avoid potentially costly mistakes or omissions when measuring and marking materials
  • select materials, plan sequences and methods of work
  • cut and shape materials and join them with nails, screws, bolts or glue
  • check completed units to ensure they are level, square, plumb and the right size, shape and in the proper location
  • work with national and local building codes

How long is the apprenticeship program?

The apprenticeship is four years consisting of four levels. Practical and technical training is a minimum of 1800 hours per level. About 80 per cent of the time is spent learning practical on-the-job skills under the supervision of a certified journeyperson and 20 per cent consists of learning the theoretical and technical aspects of the trade through in-school training.

What is taught during in-school/technical training?

Apprentices take technical training during each level of their apprenticeship. Subjects include:

  • Mathematics, Science and Communications related to the trade
  • Hand Tools and Safety
  • Roof Framing (equal and unequal pitch)
  • Concrete Forming and Foundations
  • General Framing and Heavy Timber Construction
  • Stair Building, Cabinet Layout and Construction
  • Carpentry in Masonry Construction
  • Estimating, Blueprint Reading and Drafting

Link to Curriculum Information

What is the supervision ratio?

As experience comprises the bulk of apprenticeship training, it is essential that each apprentice has on-site access to a skilled journeyperson and receives the attention and guidance necessary to perform the tasks of the trade safely and efficiently.

For every apprentice working in this trade, the employer is required to maintain a 1:1 ratio of apprentices to journeypersons on-site and must ensure that the apprentice is directly supervised by a certified journeyperson in the trade.

What are the entrance requirements?

High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP): Begin your apprenticeship training in high school. A minimum age of 16 years in required.

General Admission: A Grade 12 or equivalent high school academic standing is required, including recommended courses in Math. If you do not hold a high school diploma, you can also qualify as an Access Program Trainee (formerly Mature Student). Prior Learning Recognition and Assessment may be required.

Trades Qualification: If you are experienced in the trade, but do not hold a Certificate of Qualification, you may become a certified journeyperson based on years of proven industry experience and successful completion of the Red Seal Examination. A Trades Qualification Application and trade specific work experience form must be submitted. Trades professionals whose entrance readiness is less than that required, must take appropriate upgrading.

For additional details on entrance requirements and how to begin your apprenticeship or obtain certification, see section on "How to Start".

Do I get a certificate?

When you successfully complete all your required levels of practical experience and technical training, you write an interprovincial examination. You must score at least 70 per cent or better to qualify for a “Red Seal” endorsed interprovincial certificate confirming your status as a certified journeyperson.

Your “Red Seal” endorsed Certificate of Qualification as a journeyperson in this trade is recognized throughout Canada.

What salary can I expect as an apprentice?

Regulations under the Apprenticeship and Certification Act establish minimum wage rates for apprentices. Every employer who enters into an apprenticeship agreement with an apprentice must ensure that the apprentice is paid at least the minimum wage rate for that trade.

Apprentices who work for unionized employers are entitled to the wage rate in the collective agreement if it exceeds the pay rates specified in the trade regulation.

Employers may also provide other benefits such as group insurance for health, dental and vision care and training benefits.

Current wage details are available by downloading the training wage schedule.

What are the career prospects?

Contractors employ carpenters. Other carpenters are hired to do maintenance work for companies or manufacturing firms, or are self-employed. Carpenters may advance to foreman and construction superintendent positions. With additional training, they can also transfer their skills to related occupations such as cabinetmaker or lather. Some carpenters have full-time jobs and work primarily indoors. Others work mainly outdoors during the construction season and routinely work overtime in peak periods.

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