The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects average employment growth in the carpentry occupation until at least 2018. An increasing population drives demand for construction services, and demand also is growing for energy-efficient buildings. Carpenters with specialized skills or a wide range of general skills will have the best opportunities, according to the BLS.
Carpenters were earning average pay of $20.98 per hour as of May 2009, or $43,640 per year, according to the BLS. The middle 50 percent of carpenters were earning $14.62 to $25.76 per hour, or $30,410 to $53,580 per year. The salary range was very wide, with the bottom 10 percent of carpenters earning $11.83 per hour and less and the top 10 percent $34.01 and higher, or $70,750 per year or more. The BLS does not include self-employed carpenters in its salary data, and notes that about 32 percent of all carpenters were self-employed as of 2008.
Types of Employment
Salaries for carpenters vary by type of employer. The largest number of carpenters work in residential building construction, earning $19.69 per hour in 2009, or $40,950 per year. Carpenters working for foundation, structure and building exterior contractors had an hourly wage of $19.80, for building finishing contractors $22.05, and in nonresidential building construction $23.32 per hour, or $48,500 per year.
Employment per Capita
The most carpenters per capita by state are all in the western side of the country. Montana has the largest concentration of carpenters by state, with an average salary for these workers of $16.96 per hour in 2009. Rounding out the top five states with the largest number of carpenters per capita are Hawaii, where the average hourly pay rate was $30.79, Wyoming at $19.62, Idaho at $17.59 and Nevada at $25.98.
The highest-paying state for carpenters in 2009 was Hawaii and the fourth-highest was Nevada. Alaska ranked second, with an average hourly pay rate of $28.40, and Illinois third, at $27.44. The highest-paying metro area for carpenters was the Hanford-Corcoran region of California, where they earned $36.45 per hour on average, or $75,820 per year. Other lucrative metro areas for carpenters included Fairbanks, Alaska, at an average of $31.87 per hour; Honolulu, Hawaii, at $31.61; the greater San Francisco area at $31.30; and the greater Chicago area at $29.66.