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Carpenters construct, renovate, erect and repair buildings and other structures made of wood, wood substitutes, steel, concrete and other materials.

Duties vary according to the type of job. Typically carpenters' tasks involve:

  • interpreting and applying information found in drawings, specifications, building codes and/or receiving instructions from a supervisor,
  • performing layouts and math calculations,
  • estimating and selecting materials required to complete a job or task,
  • planning sequences of methods of work,
  • measuring and marking materials to avoid  costly mistakes or omissions,
  • operating various hand and power tools,
  • cutting ans shaping materials and joining them with various fasteners and adhesives, and
  • verifying the completed works is level, plumb, and the right size, shape and location.

In residential jobs, carpenters may:

  • layout and construct formwork for concrete foundations or frame permanent wood foundations,
  • build house framework including floors systems, walls and roofs,
  • install and/or apply components of the building envelope,
  • install insulation and air/vapour barriers in ceilings, walls and floors,
  • install interior finishes including doors, windows, flooring, cabinets, counter tops, stairs, handrails, paneling and moldings,
  • install exterior finishes including doors, windows and siding, and
  • for, place and finish sidewalks and stairs.

In commercial or industrial jobs, carpenters may:

  • underpin and shore structures or excavations,
  • build concrete forms for footings, columns, piers, beams, girders, walls, stairs and slabs,
  • layout and install concrete reinforcement materials,
  • form, place and finish sidewalks and stairs,
  • construct temporary structures including scaffolding, guards, railings, ladders, barricades, covered walkways, hoarding and rigging installations, and
  • install interior partitions, ceilings and millwork.

In maintenance jobs, carpenters repair and remodel existing structures of all kinds. Some carpenters specialize in one type of work such as framing, concrete, bench work or finishing work.

Carpenters must work accurately and economically, and follow national and local building codes.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.


Working Conditions

Carpenters may work alone, in teams or with helpers. Working conditions vary from one job to another. On some jobs carpenters work primarily indoors, are permanently employed and work a regular 40-hour week. On other jobs, they work primarily outdoors, are subject to seasonal unemployment, and routinely work overtime in peak periods.

There is some risk of injury from slips and falls, falling objects, hand and power tools, machinery, chemicals, fumes and dust. Proper personal protective equipment, safety installations and procedures can safeguard against hazards.


Skills and Abilities

Carpentry is most rewarding for those who take pride in creating a variety of things with their hands and honing their expertise in their trade.

To be successful in the trade, carpenters must have:

  • good verbal and written communication skills,
  • to be computer literate,
  • to solve arithmetic problems quickly and accurately,
  • to get along well with others and work in a team environment,
  • to stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time,
  • manual dexterity,
  • balance for working on scaffolding, and
  • use of proper lifting techniques.


Employment and Advancement

Most carpenters are employed by general contractors, are self-employed, or do construction or maintenance work for government agencies, utility companies or manufacturing firms. Employment prospects for carpenters vary considerably depending upon the sector or type of employer.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $25 to $38 an hour, plus benefits.

Wage rates can depend on geographical locations, as well as whether the carpenter works in the residential, commercial or industrial sector.  More wage and statistical information can be found on

The carpentry trade can be a stepping stone to unlimited possibilities. Carpenters may advance to foreman, subcontractor, construction superintendent or contractor. They are involved in every phase of construction, and create the base buildings that most trades will follow in the construction cycle. This overall knowledge is an advantage when applying for supervisory positions.


Working in Alberta

To work as a carpenter in Alberta, a person must:

  • be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential , OR
  • work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
  • be self-employed

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements. The Blue Seal is evidence that a tradesperson not only meets Alberta's high industry standards but also has the knowledge and drive to succeed in business. This can be a direct route to leadership, supervisory or entrepreneurial roles.


Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a carpenter is 4 years (four 12-month periods), including a minimum of 1560 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the carpenter trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application.  
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a carpenter in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    • during on-the-job training, apprentice carpenters earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 percent in the second, 80 percent in the third, and 90 percent in the fourth year.
    • apprentices are required to provide their own tools
  • complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
  • successfully complete all required exams
  • Technical Training Resource List
    • Each period of technical training requires apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
    • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training.  

Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

A carpenter who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.

To prepare for the exam see the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.


Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience, in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.


Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

Click for more information on the Equivalency Program.