There are different types of carpenters. Some build frames for homes, others create furniture, some make boats and others frame paintings.

All carpenters work with wood, and depending on their area of expertise, they will all need different skills.

Below are the most essential skills and qualifications, but they are not the only ones you may need.

High School Diploma

To become a carpenter you need to have a basic education at the very least. Without this, you won’t be able to understand the mathematics, science, or problem-solving skills needed in this trade.

Although you can argue that these skills can be learned outside of school, many employers will not take you on without a high school diploma or GED.

Develop this qualification first before moving on to any others.


You can become a carpenter either through an apprenticeship or a degree. For now, we will focus on the apprenticeship. These programs often last for 3 or 4 years and allow you to work alongside an experienced carpenter to gain first-hand experience.

From the apprenticeship, you’ll be taught the basics of carpentry along with the skills needed for the line of work (for example, the skills in creating building frames, instead of the curvature of a boat).

The basic skills you’ll be taught include reading blueprints, first aid, mathematics, freehand sketching, and safety regulations.

When you complete your program you’ll be given a certificate. This certificate will label you as a “Journeyman”.

You can use this title to enter into higher learning or prove your skills with a new employer. If you live in Melbourne, click here for local carpenters.

Associates Degree Or Certificate In Carpentry

Technically you are not required to have an associate's degree or a certificate in carpentry to become a carpenter. However, gaining these certificates can offer you a higher position in the field or widen your skill pool to take on multiple job types.

When you enroll for an associate's degree, you will be taught how to complete complex carpentry math, how to build stairs, the complexities of roofing, and the considerations needed in building layouts. 


We have discussed math multiple times so far. You cannot become a carpenter without a firm understanding of math. In the job, you’ll need to calculate the amount of material needed for the job, and how that affects your budget. This means money management is a key part of carpentry.

However, if you plan on working for a company and won’t bemanage the materials yourself, you’ll still need to measure the blueprints and understand the geometry in the build.

Geometry and algebra are the most commonly used mathematical concepts in carpentry.

This may sound daunting, but through your apprenticeship and/or associate's degree you will be taught these formulas and how to use them.

You don’t need to understand these formulas at a Master’s Degree level. 

Because you will be using carpenter-based equations regularly, they will soon become second nature to you. They aren’t complex, you simply need to learn when to use which equation and what the formulas mean.

Weight Lifting And Dexterity Training

Lastly, you need to be strong and flexible to work as a carpenter. The job will involve carrying heavy equipment, lifting raw materials such as wood, and often climbing ladders in precarious places.

Although health and safety measures will be put in place, to be good at your job you need to take care of your body too.

You will experience long periods of standing or bending in somewhat unnatural positions. To make sure you don’t harm yourself, your body needs to be strong enough to handle these positions and be given time to recover from the strain.

To help yourself, you should consider weight training and dexterity training. Both courses will prevent pain, and injury and will help you develop a successful career.

At this point, weight training may make sense to you, but dexterity training may leave you confused. Because part of the job will require intricate placements or precise cutting, you need to have nimble fingers, a steady hand, and the ability to reach unusual places.

For weight training, consider dumbbells, bench presses, and squats. For dexterity training, consider yoga, piano or guitar playing, and needlework.

Final Thoughts

All you really need is a GED or diploma coupled with either an apprenticeship or a corresponding degree. The rest will simply help you in your career - keeping you healthy or expanding your oppitunities.