California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

   Carpenters in California

May also be called: Apprentice Carpenters; Journeyman Carpenters; Lead Carpenters; Maintenance Carpenters

Specialties within this occupation include: Construction Carpenters; Rough Carpenters

What Would I Do?

Carpenters* work in almost every type of construction. They construct, erect, install, and repair structures made from concrete, steel, wood, and other materials.

Green Economy: Carpenters will play a crucial role in the emerging green economy through the construction of new green buildings, installation of energy-efficient products, and retrofitting residential and commercial buildings using green construction technology. However, this should not lead to significant changes in the work or worker requirements.

Carpenters often work in dusty, noisy places that may be indoors or outdoors, at floor level, or on ladders or scaffolds. Those working outdoors are exposed to all types of weather conditions. Carpenters can be injured by falling objects, sharp tools, and power equipment, or from falling from high places. However, the risk of injury may be reduced by following proper safety procedures and wearing personal protective equipment and clothing.

*This product was partially funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of a Carpenter may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2016 for Carpenters in California is $51,430 annually, or $24.73 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits for union Carpenters typically include health, dental, and vision insurance; vacation; and retirement plans. Some non-union shops may also provide benefits.

What is the Job Outlook?

With the increased focus on environmentally sustainable building and remodeling practices, it is expected that there may be increased opportunities for Carpenters. However, during economic downturns, the number of job openings for Carpenters declines. Building activity depends on many factors that vary with the state of the economy, such as interest rates, availability of mortgage funds, government spending, and business investment.

How Do I Qualify?

Many employers prefer to hire applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent. Carpenters must be physically able to complete all phases of the work. Completion of a formal apprenticeship or construction vocational or trade college program is the usual method of entry into this occupation.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers is one of the most common and effective job search methods. Jobs may also be found through classified advertisements in newspapers and online job boards.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Carpenters