Interested in becoming a carpender? This article is for you. To help bring the career of a woodworker into better perspective, I’ve interviewed Dan Enright, owner of Dane Custom Carpentry, for his remarks on his 30+ years on the job. Here’s what he told me:
Dan’s first experience came from building small things out of scraps from his father’s shop. By the time he was a teenager, he had moved on to bigger and better things. “I always built the best treehouses, and all my friends wanted me to build stuff for them, so that’s how I got into it,” Enright told me. It was then that he knew he had some talent, and that this was something he wanted to do for a living.
At 17, Dan enrolled in his high school’s vocational-technical education program and began taking woodworking classes. “I finished high school, and then took another two years of classes so I was better qualified.” Enright would later receive more training for his licenses for his company.
Carpenter to Business Owner
Dan knew from the beginning that he wanted to own his own company, especially after working for others and gaining experience. “It was the end goal from the beginning,” he told me. Eventually Enright began his company, and steadily grew his assets. Today he is a landlord, a general contractor, a sawmill operator, and a licensed carpenter, and his company is capable of building entire houses.
So now you might be asking, ‘What’s so great about being a carpenter?’ The answer lies in pride, mostly. “When I do a good job, I’m proud of it. That’s a good feeling for me,” Dan told me. Woodworking trades offer a lot of creative opportunities, mainly because wood is softer and easier to work than metal, and the margin for error is a bit larger. There’s a lot more room for customization and experimentation, and no two pieces are ever the same. So if you like to stand back and look at your work with pride, that’s basically a carpenter’s life.
What Does It Take?
That’s not the only benefit to being a carpenter. Carpentry is a (usually) low stress, be-your-own-boss career. You take orders, set deadlines, and make your custom projects – and then collect your pay. And as far as pay goes, you can expect well into the thousands of dollars for larger quality items. Demand for this service is rising, as many older carpenters are retiring. Rustic-style wood pieces are also making a major resurgence as a décor aspect.
There are not too many prerequisite skills required to be a carpenter. One is the willingness to work anywhere, anytime. This is especially important for carpentry work in general contracting. “You can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, or work outside. It could be ninety-five or negative five, but I’m still out there,” Dan said.
You also need some patience – not just for making your projects, but dealing with customers as well. Clients looking for a custom piece have to try to explain what they are looking for to a carpenter. If the carpenter doesn’t get it quite right, the client can sometimes get angry. Enright told me, “I can’t even count how many times I fell through with a customer because I didn’t make exactly what they were thinking of. The worst thing they can do is take their business away, which hurts them in some ways. You just got to forget it and move on.”
Benefits Of Being A Carpenter
Being a carpenter offers a lot of benefits in the long run. It is a high-paying, high demand career which is easy to get started in and very rewarding. There are a lot of different ways to get involved in carpentry. “The best way to get involved is to work for a construction company, if you can,” Enright remarked. “It gets you used to all the tools you’ll use, and gives you good on-the-job experience.”
You can also take classes in Technology Education and woodworking at your high school, or take courses at a two-year school or a Vo-Tech school. The average price range for an Associate’s Degree in Carpentry can range anywhere from $4,000-$20,000, although most center between $10,000-$12,000.
You can get a basic certificate in carpentry for significantly less – less than $6,500 dollars. Formal apprenticeships can run around $15,000. Some companies offer free apprenticeship and even partial pay. Yearly and bi-yearly license fees usually fall between $50 and $325 dollars.
Most importantly, just see what you can do. Almost everyone has some sort of woodworking tool around the house, even if it’s just a handsaw or a hammer. Using even these basic tools, one can get a great start to becoming a master of the trade. Work slowly, and just try to get an idea of how the wood behaves.
Interested in a trade? Find out more about becoming an electrician right here!