All carpenters can cut wood to specification and drive a nail with a hammer or a nail gun, but carpenters have a variety of specialties – general carpenters handle exteriors, interior systems carpenters install acoustic ceilings and partitions, cabinetmakers make cabinets and framing and residential carpenters understand all aspects of residential carpentry. In addition to framing a home, they do the carpentry associated with the trim, flooring, roofing, siding and drywall work.
What They Earn
A framing carpenter earns an average of $21.41 per hour, or $44,520 per year. All journeyman carpenters have the same basic skills. Framing carpenters are the specialists who expand on those skills to become the carpenters who know the ins and outs of residential construction. Some of the skills, such as siding, flooring and cabinet installation, involve working with other carpentry specialties, such as cabinetmakers and lathers, who work with metal mesh, clips, nails and screws to form the backing for drywall and plaster walls.
Where the Money Is
Wage comparisons by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the top wage is found in Hawaii, where framing carpenters earn an average of $32.20 per hour, or $66,980 per year. Alaska follows Hawaii with an hourly wage of $29.98 per hour, or $62,360 annually. The third highest wages are found in New York, where carpenters' wages average $27.06 per hour, or $56,290 per year. Massachusetts comes next, with hourly wages that average $26.80, for a total annual average of $55,850. The last of the top five earning locations is California, where carpenters earn $26.82 per hour, or $55,780 per year.
Why Pay Varies
In addition to a framing carpenter’s location, skill level and seniority influence a framing carpenter’s pay. Any additional skills within the trade, such as cabinetmaking, will help because work for a framing carpenter can be seasonal. In locations like Hawaii and California, two of the highest-paying states for carpenters, construction is almost a year-round business. In locations such as New York or Massachusetts, though, winter brings conditions that can limit the amount of work for a framing carpenter who lacks an additional skill within the carpentry trade.
How the Future Looks
The occupational outlook for carpenters is good, according to the BLS. The bureau projects 20 percent growth, faster than other occupations, between 2010 and 2020 for carpenters, citing the need for framing and residential carpenters in home remodeling. The bureau also cautions that an increase in modular housing, in which factory workers assemble components traditionally built by framing and residential carpenters then ships them to the work site for assembly, could affect the outlook for house framers.
2016 Salary Information for Carpenters
Carpenters earned a median annual salary of $43,600 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, carpenters earned a 25th percentile salary of $33,770, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $58,700, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,025,600 people were employed in the U.S. as carpenters.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Home
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters: Home
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Wage and Employment - Carpenters
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters: Our Varied Trade
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters: Framing and Residential Carpenters
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Carpenters - Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Carpenters
- Career Trend: Carpenters
Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.