A Quick Guide to Becoming a Carpenter

A carpenter is a skilled person capable of erecting commercial and residential buildings, construct roads, bridges and other types of infrastructure. You may be using a broad range of skills such as building stairs, framing walls, installing doors, cabinet making or finished carpentry.

Your duties may include gaining knowledge about blueprints and other specifications, choosing materials and measuring and marking to cut lines in a systematic manner. Apart from this, you may also have to cut and shape wood and other materials and fasten them with glue, nails, and wood in such a way that they remain together. If you choose to work on a rehab project, you need to inspect ceilings, doors, and walls for damage and remove the damaged area.

High School Diploma

If you want to join a carpentry course or apprenticeship program in Ontario, you need a high school diploma otherwise known as an OSSD (Ontario Secondary School Diploma). This will lay a solid foundation for any carpentry course that you may wish to take in college. Blueprint, drafting, and woodworking are relevant and the school may offer them separately or part of a special course. Courses in geometry, algebra, physics and English are also helpful due to the sheer amount of mathematical equations you will no doubt have to solve throughout your career. And let me tell you they can be tough!

Carpenter’s Helper

Apart from taking a carpentry course, it is best to find work as a carpenter’s helper. When you start working with an experienced tradesman, you may be able to learn the skills of the job in a better way. The experience that you gain can also enable you to gain admission to an apprentice program.

Enroll in Apprenticeship Program

The apprenticeship or education programs are designed to provide you hands-on experience on how to use the hand and power tools. You also develop fundamental knowledge and skills in assembling construction materials, measuring, handling and altering. The program may also cover topics such as dry walling, foundations, framing, siding, roofing, trim, and safety. Most programs last 1 – 2 years. Check out this program through the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades.


After completing the apprenticeship program, you can gain employment and work for general and specialty contractors and also be self-employed in the building industry if you so wish to do so. Employment can also be found in government agencies, realtors, and manufacturing firms.The opportunities really are endless and the pay scale is quite good.

You may require union membership if you join a union affiliated education or apprenticeship program such as the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. Joining a carpenter’s union can greatly enhance the employment opportunities. Becoming a union member can also help improve skills as most unions organize workshops for their members at regular intervals.

Career Advancement

There are many avenues for career advancement. You can get a certification in scaffold building (see video below) or pump work and this can open up more avenues for advancing in you chosen career. The training and certification can be part of the union training program or you can join a skills program at a technical school or community college to enhance your skills and advance further in your career as a carpenter.