The “journeyman” part comes from the training level of the occupation. The “carpenter” part refers to building with wood. As a career, a journeyman carpenter can work indoors building and hanging kitchen cabinets, or outdoors constructing wooden forms for concrete highway posts. About a third of the profession were self-employed in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you join this cadre, you can set your own work hours.
To reach journeyman status means going through a formal apprenticeship lasting three or four years. Such programs are available from trade associations, contractor groups and labor unions, and offer salaries that are a percentage of the full professional’s. For each year of training, you need at least 144 hours of classroom instruction. This covers such topics as reading blueprints, building codes and regulations, and construction math. You also undergo 2,000 hours of on-the-job experience. Under the supervision of experienced professionals, you learn how to use tools and perform carpentry procedures while practicing safety.
Journeyman carpenters are entitled to full professional wages and can work on union jobs independently. They read blueprints and job specifications to prepare for projects, meet with foremen and other construction professionals, and train new workers. The position offers much variety. You may be repairing creaky doors one day and helping to erect single-family homes the next. The manual tools you would typically use include hammers, chisels and levels. Powered equipment is comprised of electric drills, circular saws and nail guns. You can also work with materials related to wood constructions, such as fiberglass and drywall.
You may choose to specialize, often as an apprentice, to gain more in-depth knowledge of a carpentry trade. Residential carpenters work on homes, condominium and town homes. They frame walls, install drywall, and build stairs and window frames. Commercial carpenters focus on such structures as office buildings, retail outlets, hospitals and schools. Such work often includes steel, which buttresses frames. Industrial carpenters work in factory and civil environments, such as bridges, power plants and manufacturing facilities. They may put up scaffolding, work with concrete and perform some of their work underground to control site stability.
You can look forward to job increases of 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is greater than the 14 percent expected for all occupations in all industries. Demand stems from a growing population that will require more structures for living, working, learning and playing. In addition, older infrastructures, such as sewer systems and highways, will need repair or replacement. As with all construction occupations, the economy affects employment, with good times boasting the most job opportunities.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.