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Carpenters are involved in many different kinds of construction activity, from the building of highways and bridges, to the installation of kitchen cabinets. Carpenters construct, erect, install, and repair structures and fixtures made from wood and other materials. Working from blueprints or instructions from supervisors, carpenters first perform the layout-measuring, marking, and arranging materials-in accordance with local building codes. They cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall using hand and power tools. They join the materials with nails, screws, staples, or adhesives. In the final step, carpenters check the accuracy of their work with levels, rules, plumb bobs, framing squares, or electronic versions of these tools and make any necessary adjustments.
Carpenters employed outside the construction industry perform a variety of installation and maintenance work. They may replace panes of glass, ceiling tiles, and doors, as well as repair desks, cabinets, and other furniture. Depending on the employer, carpenters install partitions, doors, and windows; change locks; and repair broken furniture. In manufacturing firms, carpenters may assist in moving or installing machinery.
To meet the training needs of persons interested in becoming a Carpenter, Los Angeles Trade Technical College offers a Carpentry Associate in Science degree and a Carpentry Construction Technologies Associates in Arts degree as well as their equivalent Certificates of Completion.
The Associate in Science degree is designed for individuals seeking entry level positions in the field. Students enrolling in this program should be able to commit to full-time student status, which is approximately 24 hours per week. This time commitment is necessary to allow for hands-on training with the laboratory applications used during the course of instruction.
The Associate in Arts degree is an evenings-only course of study designed for individuals currently in the field who want to improve their skills or learn new ones. Due to limitations on available evening hours, the utilization of hands-on laboratory application is assumed to be provided at the students’ place of employment.
Carpenters are employed throughout the country in almost every community and make up the largest building trades occupation. They held about 1.3 million jobs in 2004. About one-third worked in building construction and about one-fifth worked for special trade contractors. Most of the rest of the wage and salary workers worked for manufacturing firms, government agencies, retail establishments and a wide variety of other industries. About one-third of all carpenters were self-employed.
Job opportunities for carpenters are expected to be excellent throughout the 2006-14 period. Employment of carpenters is expected to increase about as fast as average for all occupations through 2014, and turnover also creates a large number of openings each year. Contractors report having trouble finding skilled carpenters to fill many of their openings and the need for carpenters is expected to grow as construction activity increases in response to demand for new housing, office and retail space, and for modernizing and expanding schools and industrial plants. A strong home remodeling market is also projected to create a large demand for carpenters.
In May 2006, median hourly earnings of carpenters were $19.78. The middle 50% earned between $15.91 and $25.62, while the highest 10% earned more than $31.65 per hour.
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