Carpenters construct and erect structures such as housing frames and decks, working from blueprints and client specifications. Carpenters may also install cabinets and windows, and perform basic house repairs. While no formal postsecondary education is required for carpenters, they usually undergo a three- or four-year apprenticeship before beginning to work independently.
Average and Median Pay:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, carpenters earned an average salary of $44,330 a year in 2011, and average hourly wages of $21.31. The middle-earning 50 percent of carpenters made between $31,230 and $54,560 per year. The bureau reports that apprentice carpenters usually earn between 30 percent and 50 percent of the typical salaries made by fully trained carpenters.
Salary by Employment Sector:
Nearly one-third of all carpenters were employed in residential building construction in 2011, earning an average salary of $41,310 a year. Similar earnings, an average of $41,820 per year, were reported by carpenters employed as building structure and exterior contractors. Those who worked as building finishing contractors averaged significantly more, $46,030 per year. Carpenters who worked primarily in the construction of nonresidential buildings made even more, an average annual income of $48,330.
Salary by State:
Hawaii reported the highest average salary for carpenters in 2011, $66,950 a year, followed by Alaska at $62,350 a year. California ranked third with an average annual salary of $56,550, followed by Massachusetts at $55,970 and Nevada at $55,880. The lowest pay, $31,520 a year, was reported in South Dakota. Other low-paying states where carpenters earned $33,000 per year or less in 2011 included Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.
Population growth is expected to drive the construction of new homes and the remodeling of existing homes in the coming decade. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of carpentry jobs will grow at a rate of about 20 percent between 2010 and 2020, somewhat faster than the 14 percent rate of job growth projected for the overall American economy. Throughout the decade, the employment of carpenters is expected to rise and fall with the size of the construction industry.