A master carpenter is a woodworking professional who has obtained the highest certification possible in the industry. This woodworker will generally spend many years working as a journeyman, and before that an apprentice, before he or she is eligible to become a master carpenter. The specific requirements one must meet before attaining this level of certification can vary by region, though all candidates will need to develop skills specific to the industry and demonstrate a capacity to teach carpentry skills. Master carpenters must also demonstrate that they have earned a living off of the trade. In many cases, the carpenter must be a member of a labor union.
The path a person must take to become a master carpenter starts when the candidate is young. In many countries, the candidate must be at least 18 years old, and he or she will begin the career by taking entry-level or assistant positions with a carpenter or on a construction crew. The candidate will apply for eligibility to become an apprentice, and when positions become available, he or she must apply for these competitive spots. If the candidate is accepted to an apprenticeship program, he or she will spend the next four to five years learning the skills necessary to pass certification exams. Before the carpenter can become a master carpenter, however, he or she will spend many years as a journeyman.
A journeyman carpenter is a full-time worker who can essentially complete most, if not all, carpentry jobs. He or she will continually develop new skills and become familiar with all aspects of the industry. The length of time during which a carpenter must remain a journeyman can vary, but anywhere from four to ten years or more is typical. The journeyman must also become a licensed contractor specific to the region in which he or she works. The laws regarding such certification can vary by region.
Once the journeyman has spent a significant amount of time as a carpenter and has demonstrated his or her abilities in the field, the carpenter can apply for master carpenter status. This is usually done with the carpenter's union, and the specific requirements can vary by region. Some unions will require the carpenter to show that he or she has taught apprentices, has completed jobs over a certain dollar amount, and has accomplished various achievements throughout his or her career in the carpentry field.