Day in the life of
Construction Carpenter – Ronnie Collins
My name is Ronnie Collins, I’m a professional woodworker and a passionate gardener with an MS degree in Botany. I worked in a house construction brigade for 8 years. We offered “turnkey” construction of private houses in Maryland suburbs. My specialization in the team was construction and interior carpentry.
My Typical Day
Not all working days as a construction carpenter are the same, actually. When your brigade receives an order, you have to take a ride to the construction site, research the area, test the soil, get acquainted with building permissions, and do other important preparational routines along with the rest of the team. Next, it’s necessary to study the construction blueprints or create the design project if the client wants your brigade to do everything from the ground up. We had an architect in our company for that.
At the construction site, we always started from a briefing during which the foreman gave everyone tasks based on the current progress. Once everyone received their tasks, we started working in 4 2-hour shifts with 15-minute breaks and one 1-hour lunch break. As a carpenter, I was responsible for a wide range of woodworking staff, including batch cutting of lumber, wood shaping, and, of course, installation work.
By the end of each day, we had to report the foreman on the progress and go home or rest in a temporary housing unit. It’s not the most comfy option, but it can be better than commuting back home just to sleep.
The great thing about working in a private house construction brigade is the friendly atmosphere in the team. For me, working in a team feels like therapy. We worked together and spent some weekends and holiday evenings celebrating together as well.
The salaries are quite good too. As a beginner, you will get paid around $25k-$30k, the average salary is $45k, and, for some projects, you may get up to $65k-$70k per year.
On the negative side, it’s a job that requires you to move and carry heavy stuff all the time. If you’re not careful enough, you may easily get joint trauma or even break something. The tools are also a common source of trauma and require careful handling. However, you may avoid all these if you always wear the right protection and follow the safety rules.
Advice to aspiring Carpenters
The fastest way to get straight to a job is to start an apprenticeship with a contractor or a local trade union. This way you will focus on real-life tasks from the start but may lack systematized knowledge. If you want to have carpentry classes with a systematic approach, go to a technical school to get your carpentry certificate after two years of in-class practice. Alternatively, you can take Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training in a Home Builders Institute.
Actually, all of these options are more or less equivalent, but I recommend pursuing a path that will provide you with a certificate as it will make finding a job with a good paycheck easier. It’s not a 100% rule, but a pretty common one.
construct, erect, install, and repair structures and fixtures of wood, plywood, and wallboard, using carpenter's hand tools and power tools.