What’s the best thing about becoming a carpenter? What about the not-so-great aspects of this trade?
Before you invest time and money in training, you need a clear idea of what to expect. Things like job outlook in your region, average salary, and working conditions are key when choosing a career path.
In this post, we’re breaking down a few important pros and cons of carpentry work. This is not a definitive list—but it’s an excellent starting point for anyone considering this trade.
Take a look, and see if carpentry feels like a good fit for you. You’ll find links to learn more and explore further at the end of the article. Let’s get started.
Pro: Steady Job Outlook & Competitive Wages for Ontario Carpenters
The latest stats from the Government of Canada Job Bank are quite positive for Ontario carpenters. The Job Bank has awarded this trade 2/3 stars for demand across the province. Here’s what the report says:
“Employment in this occupation has been stable in Ontario over the past decade…We expect that the labour supply and demand for Carpenters (NOC 7271) will be balanced in Canada over the next 10 years.”
What is creating steady work for carpenters in Ontario? The research highlights several positive factors, including:
- healthy construction industry
- retiring carpenters are opening up positions for new candidates
- high population growth is supporting residential building projects in key areas
- ongoing demand for renovation and repair work
- infrastructure investments in education, healthcare, highways and public transit will create job opportunities for carpenters
On the salary side, things are also positive for carpenters in Ontario. The median wage right now is about $25/hour—or $52,000/year.
At the highest end of the pay-scale, Ontario carpenters are making as much as $38/hour—or $79.000/year.
This is well above the national, 2-person household income of about $70,000/year.
Con: There are safety hazards in carpentry work
Like many tradespeople, carpenters run the risk of serious injury on site. You’ll be working with potentially dangerous tools (like power saws and nail guns, for example), crouching in confined spaces, and working from heights.
What are the most common carpenter injuries? Typical problems include:
- wounds and lacerations to hands and fingers (from nail guns, protruding nails, and sawing/cutting timber)
- back strain from lifting timber and equipment
- knee injury from kneeling for long periods
Safety instruction will be a key part of your carpenter training, but you’ll need to continuously update and expand your safety skills throughout your career.
Your total commitment to following those steps and procedures is your best defence against these common on-the-job injuries.
There are definitely ways to guard against physical harm as a carpenter—provided you’re smart about how you work.
This list gives a good roundup of preventative safety measures and tools, specifically for carpenters.
Pro: Carpentry has many areas of specialization
Think about all the different types of building projects you could work on after becoming a carpenter. Houses, condos, offices, schools, entertainment complexes—even movie and TV production companies hire carpenters to build sets.
As you progress in your career, you can choose to specialize in a particular building type (commercial versus residential, for example).
You could also focus on old versus new builds, and develop expertise as a restoration or renovation carpenter.
Maybe you’ll make a name for yourself as an outdoor carpenter, constructing custom decks, patios, sheds, and outdoor kitchens.
Or, perhaps you’ll love the fine detail of finish carpentry—like crown molding, wainscoting, built-in bookshelves, intricate fireplace surrounds, window and door trim, and other creative touches.
The bottom line is that carpentry offers many ways to specialize, and focus on the kind of work you’re best at.
A quality carpenter college will give you the fundamental skills you need to get started. From there, you can discover which niche you’re truly passionate about, and work on refining your skills in that area.
Con: Hard work in all kinds of weather
There’s no doubt about it: carpentry is hard, physical work. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on your feet, and there’s a high probability you’ll work in challenging cold/hot weather conditions.
You can expect some long work days, too, as you rush to meet a deadline or cope with last-minute design changes. Split shifts are also a possibility, along with weekend hours.
If you don’t like being outside, or want to avoid hours of standing and lifting, becoming a carpenter may not be your best move.
Pro: Opportunity to run your own business
It’s very common for carpenters in Ontario to set up their own businesses. In fact, a whopping 32% of carpenters in the province have chosen this route—compared to an average of 10% self-employed people in other occupations.
If you develop a talent for a specific type of carpentry (historical restoration, for example), you can market yourself as a specialist in that field, and become your own boss.
Of course, you can also establish a general carpentry business, and bid for contracts for various types of construction, renovation, and restoration work.
Dream of one day building your own business from scratch? Becoming a carpenter could be step #1 to making that dream a reality.
So…what’s the verdict. Like what you’ve read so far? Want to learn more about starting your own carpentry career?
Your next step is to discover quality carpenter programs in Ontario. Get the ball rolling by exploring the training offered at Ontario’s leading trade school: The Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute.
Chat live with an advisor right now (using the chat tool on this page).
Or, click below to get a quick overview of our Carpentry Training in Toronto and Cambridge. We can help with financial aid, admissions, career planning, and much more. Get in touch and plan your next move!
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