I am a finish carpenter, and I have been working in the construction industry for two years. As a finish carpenter, my work includes hanging doors, installing trim and casing around doors and windows, ordering materials and maintaining a clean work environment.
I would rate my job satisfaction as a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. If I could change something about my job, I would simply increase the salary.
I believe that I have found my calling as a carpenter. I have always wanted a job that allows me to work with my hands. I am new to the trade, but I take pride in the quality of my work. The more experience I gain, the more improvement I see within myself. This room for self-advancement makes me enthusiastic about my work.
Something unique about my situation is that I started my career as a teacher. I have a natural love for learning, so I gave carpentry a try after a close friend suggested that I learn the trade. I never expected to find such a high level of satisfaction in learning a trade. Now I am in the process of earning my builder's license, because I believe that continuing education is important in any industry.
A close friend of mine introduced me to carpentry and also taught me many of the skills that I know today. Now that I know more about the industry, it is easier to push myself to learn more about carpentry through reading related textbooks and taking courses. If I could go back in time and do things differently, I would not be so afraid of making mistakes. One thing that I have learned as a carpenter is that sometimes you have to cut a board more than once before it fits in place. Making mistakes helps you learn what to do or what not to do the next time around. Learning the hard way as a carpenter means tearing down your work and redoing it until you get it right.
The single most important thing that I have learned outside of school about the working world is that it is never too late to change your career. Trying new jobs is a great way to discover what you really want to do in life. I had to do that several times before I found a career that I am passionate about.
The strangest thing that ever happened to me in this job is the time a coworker accidentally put up trim in an entire room backwards. The funny thing about this incident is that he was boasting about how nice of a job he did. The client was scratching her head and asked if the trim was installed backwards. My coworker said, "So do you want me to redo it?" Of course, the client wanted the trim reinstalled correctly. I learned two things from this strange happening. The first is to never be overly boastful about your work, because that is the time someone else will notice your mistake. The second is that customer service is extremely important, and as a carpenter, it is important to have good communication with a client.
I get up and go to work each day because I feel like I have a skill that nobody else in my family does. I feel good about myself every time my measurements and cuts are exact. It may seem simple, but when I make accurate measurements and cuts, I feel that I am improving in my trade.
One challenge that I have as a finish carpenter is that my job is just one step in a process, and the quality of my work can depend on the quality of the steps that were completed before me. For example, if a wall is not straight because the framing is crooked, then that means my baseboard is not going to lay flat. I have to make adjustments to be sure that what I install will still be high quality even when I run in to challenges like this.
My job is not very stressful, and I maintain a healthy work-life balance. A rough salary range for a carpenter in my region is around $20,000 to $25,000. I am happy living within my means, but would love to make more money. I don't take much vacation but I never have in any job.
A successful carpenter should have a basic understanding of building trades and be decent at math.
I would tell a friend considering carpentry to build a birdhouse. If he or she enjoyed the experience, could use the tools, and do the math, I'd tell them to give it a shot.
If I could write my own ticket, then in five years I'd own my own construction company.
This is a true story as told to LatPro.com, the worldwide leader in providing online employment resources for Hispanic and bilingual professionals. LatPro is the largest diversity employment site in the U.S. and the most complete personal career advancement service for Latino and bilingual professionals.