Trim Carpenter Job Description


Trim carpenters make homes and office buildings look completed. They finish the fine detailing around the rough edges of construction. These include wall, floor, window and ceiling intersections. They install the baseboard at the bottom of the wall, crown molding where the walls meet the ceiling and trim around doors and windows. Without these fine touches, our buildings would look sloppy and unfinished. Trip carpenters are part artist and part builder. They can perform great works of art with their trim and moldings. They install decorative trim, mantles, window boxes, decorative columns and wall contour molding.

Salary Data

  • Trim carpenters generally work for carpentry contractors or independently as a contractor on assignment for a general contractor. Either way the general contractor is usually responsible for paying their salary or fee. The customer rarely pays them directly. The average annual earnings for a trim carpenter is approximately $40,000, according to This is 37 percent lower than the average salary for all occupations combined in the United States. This occupation pays below the national average.

Job Requirements

  • This job type generally requires a high school diploma or GED. However, a good trim carpenter with references may not even need that. Trim carpenters must possess an excellent eye for fine detail. They must be very precise and exact with measurements and cutting tools. They must possess excellent basic math skills, including fractions. The trim carpenter must have the ability to work largely unsupervised for long periods of time. They must have their own tools required by their trade. Some of these tools include a power miter saw, miter box, handheld miter saw, tape measures, squares, angle gage, chisels, a router, a portable table saw and a portable band saw. All of these tools make trim work very easy. These jobs usually require several years of experience with verifiable references. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Carpenters need manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination, physical fitness, and a good sense of balance."

The Work

  • Trim carpentry work is done outdoors and indoors, usually in a construction zone where buildings are either being built or remodeled. These jobs are rarely climate controlled and the trim carpenter is subject to the elements. Tools and trim stock must be kept dry. The trim carpenter's work is slow and exacting, cutting pieces of trim boards and molding and installing them one section at a time to ensure accuracy. This differs from general carpentry, which moves fast and does not use exacting methods.

Job Responsibilities

  • Trim carpenters must read blueprints, instructions and design details submitted by customers, architects, supervisors and other carpenters. The trim carpenter must be able to conduct a job layout, measuring, marking and ordering all their materials. He must meet stringent deadlines and meet all local building code requirements---and possess the ability to shape, mold, bend and custom fit molding and materials to difficult building details. Trim carpenters must have a high degree of dexterity and the ability to work long hours in all sorts of climates, temperature and conditions, and must own their own trim carpentry tools.

Other Job Responsibilities

  • Trim carpenters must bid on jobs. This includes the cost of materials, time and tools. The trim carpenter has to know the general cost and cost trends of the raw materials they use, including all natural and prefabricated materials. If the carpenter underestimates the time to complete a job or the cost of the raw materials, the job may end up without showing a profit. However, the bidding process is highly competitive and the lowest bid is the one that is usually chosen. Trim carpenters are responsible for submitting all change orders for approval. They work with new carpenters and all other construction staff.

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  • Photo Credit "Mosteiro de São Bento" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Prefeitura de Olinda (Prefeitura de Olinda) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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