How to Become a Master Carpenter

While in the majority of the United States the title Master Carpenter is no longer used or acknowledged, there are areas where it still exists. Many consider architects and contractors to have taken the place of a master carpenter. Predominantly people consider journeymen that have worked for 10 years and pursued further education as being master carpenters. Carpenters that have specialized in specific areas of the field and become highly educated in that area are considered master carpenters as well. We will cover the requirements to become what the industry considers a master carpenter.

How Long to Become a Master Carpenter?

Individuals who want to become a carpenter must complete a 3-4 year apprenticeship, usually with the Carpenters Union or accredited firm, with required courses at each grade and field work. Once you complete this apprenticeship you are considered a journeyman. Journeymen are considered craftsmen after working for at least 4 years; all the while honing their skills and expanding their knowledge on all facets of carpentry. In California you must pass the state license board exams to be able to contract for jobs that value more than $500 in labor and materials. Carpenters are recognized as a "Master" after applying their journeyman trade for 10 years, trained their own apprentices and are craftsmen that are highly skilled and respected by their brothers in the union.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America has a five year apprenticeship program that requires each apprentice to attend classes given by the union on work day evenings; three or more times per week for the full five years. After successfully completing the five year apprenticeship they will become a carpenter journeyman. There isn't a higher designation recognized by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America though. Some people are under the misconception that a shop steward is a master carpenter, but this is not true. A shop steward is the union representative on the job site. The shop steward's main duty is to make certain that the terms of the contract between the union and the contractor is being followed and that all safety measures are implemented.

A contractor is the person in charge of a building site. Contractors hire the carpenters and other journeymen needed to complete the construction job. Contractors have usually worked as a journeyman in the construction field prior to becoming contractor. Experience in construction is an important criterion for becoming a contractor. Some consider a contractor to be a master of the trade. Becoming a contractor differs from state to state. In Florida there are three contractor licenses available; general contractor, building contractor and residential contractor. General contractors are unlimited as to the type of work which they may do. Building contractors are limited to services related to the construction of commercial buildings and single-dwelling or multiple-dwelling residential buildings. Residential contractor's services are limited to construction, remodeling, repair, or improvement of one to three story tall family residences.

Architects are also considered master carpenters and this degree takes about 6 years to complete. Four years of undergraduate studies and two years in an architectural master's degree program.

So, a master carpenter is primarily a skilled carpenter recognized for his years of applying his trade in the carpentry field, while training apprentices and gaining more knowledge in his field.