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What Personal Skills or Qualities Are Needed to Become a Carpenter?

by Linda Ray

You’ll learn most of the technical skills you need to become a carpenter on the job. Through an apprenticeship, you’ll learn how to read blueprints, follow building code regulations and practice general safety and first aid. The basis carpentry skills you need will be taught while you serve as a helper for three or four years. In addition to being an eager learner, you’ll need to possess certain personal qualities and soft skills to be successful.

Focused on the Details

An error of one inch can make a huge difference in the construction industry. You can’t afford to be distracted when you’re measuring and cutting. Paying close attention to the details of a project is what sets apart the talented carpenters from those who can’t make the cut. Contractors and architects rely on carpenters to follow instructions exactly and use only precise measurements.

Dedicated to Your Job

Employers say they can train anyone with adequate manual dexterity and simple math skills to become a skilled carpenter. But it’s the attitude toward the job and the dedication to doing your best that can’t be taught. Showing up on time and being reliable are important traits for carpenters, just as much, if not more, than the ability to hammer a nail in straight. Being diligent and caring about the quality of your work is important to employers who prefer to hire carpentry apprentice candidates who possess professional work ethics and positive attitudes.

Physical Strength

Carpenters need to be strong and physically healthy. A big sheet of plywood can weigh up to 100 pounds, so you can’t have any physical limitations that preclude you from lifting and carrying heavy tools and equipment. The job is hard and also requires considerable standing, bending, kneeling and climbing so you’ve got to have the stamina to keep up with the physical demands for an 8- to 10-hour shift.

Get Along and Communicate Well

Listening to directions is a huge requirement for carpenters, especially in the early days of your apprenticeship. Communication skills are vital for taking in information and for passing it along. You’ve got to understand those directions and clearly speak up when you have questions. Your language skills must be proficient enough for you to be accurate and concise in your speech and listen to the needs of your guide and the other workers on the job. Building takes a team, so you must possess the communication and interpersonal skills to effectively get along with others on the job.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

Photo Credits

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