How to Become a Carpenter: Resources for Aspiring Carpenters in the Pacific Northwest

H&H shares top resources for aspiring carpenters and builders in the Pacific Northwest.

How to Become a Carpenter

There are a few routes one might take to become a carpenter. Maybe you dive head-first into a two-year associate degree program, maybe you test the waters with volunteer work, or perhaps you get on-the-job training as an apprentice. While we don’t have a formal apprenticeship program, we often hire people interested in the industry as laborers. From there they are able to experience every step of a project and move into roles that suit their interest and skill level.

If you’re looking to learn more about how to become a carpenter in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve put together a list of resources to help you get started.

How to Become a Carpenter Pacific Northwest Resources

Portland Resources

Northwest College of Construction

The Northwest College of Construction, located in NE Portland, offers a comprehensive selection of training programs including equipment certifications, technical training, craft skills, safety, and leadership development. The NWCOC also offers a variety of youth programs and customizable training programs.

Portland Community College

Portland Community College offers a Building Construction Technology program in which you can earn either an Associate of Applied Science degree in three areas of study (hands-on construction skills, construction management, or design/build remodeling) or a less than one-year certificate in Building Construction Technology.

Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.

This non-profit organization is dedicated to promoting success for women in the trades through three programs, Building Girls Summer Construction Camps and Work Crew, Pathways to Success Pre-Apprenticeship Class, Tradeswomen Organized for Outreach, Leadership, and Support (T.O.O.L.S.), and an annual trades career fair for women and girls.

The Northwest EcoBuilding Guild – Portland Chapter

The Portland chapter of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild offers a list of resources for those interested in green building. It’s also a great place for getting involved in the local green building community and attending educational events and workshops.

Seattle Resources

Seattle Central Community College

Seattle Central Community College’s Wood Technology Center is a comprehensive training facility specifically designed for the wood construction and woodworker professions in Washington State. They have three programs in which you can earn an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree or a Certificate of Completion: Carpentry, Cabinetmaking, and Marine Carpentry.

If you’d like to test the waters before enrolling, Seattle Central Community College also offers non-credit continuing education classes like Basic Carpentry and Woodworking and Woodworking I & II.

South Seattle Community College

The Georgetown Campus at South Seattle Community College cooperates with Joint Apprenticeship Committees to provide courses for apprentices and journey workers. Apprentices can earn non-transferable Associate of Applied Science Degree in Multi Occupational Trades. The Construction Industry Training Council of Washington (CITC) offers apprenticeships in building trades including carpentry, electrical, and plumbing.

The Northwest EcoBuilding Guild – Seattle Chapter

The EcoBuilding Guild has a variety of resources available to those interested in learning about green building. Ongoing classes and workshops touch on a range of building topics including LEED for Homes Workshops, Solar Home Design, and Lead: Renovation, Repair, & Painting Certification. In partnership with South Seattle Community College, the EcoBuilding Guild also offers job training for green building including a hands-on workshop on building energy efficient walls for new homes and remodels.

Volunteer Opportunities

If you’d like to learn a little about working in the construction industry while doing good deeds there are volunteer opportunities available. Habitat for Humanity in the Seattle area and Portland area both have volunteer opportunities on home job sites. Volunteer for one day or longer to get some hands-on experience. ReFit Portland, a nonprofit organization that provides home modification services for physically and financially challenged homeowners, is another great place to get your feet wet while helping the community. Check out this post on two past pro bono projects Hammer & Hand completed with ReFit.

Books & Videos

Taunton Press has a variety of titles we recommend reading for educational purposes. Below are just a few of our favorites:

The writings and videos from expert carpenter Larry Haun (1931-2011) hold a wealth of information and insight for the budding carpenter. He’s the author of the blog A Carpenter’s View, and published four books with Taunton Press (The Very Efficient Carpenter, Homebuilding Basics: Carpentry, Habitat for Humanity: How to Build a House, and A Carpenter’s Life as Told by Houses) and starred in many helpful videos such as Framing Roofs with Larry Haun.

The Hammer & Hand Youtube channel also serves as a good resource for people interested in green building, high performance building, and general construction. There you’ll find a variety of videos touching on insulation, siding, kitchen remodeling, air barriers, and more.

Is there a resource missing from this list? Let us know in a comment below!

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