The 10 Best Carpentry Schools in the US

The best carpentry schools in the US offer engaging, hands-on courses where students have the opportunity to practice essential carpentry skills in real-life contexts. 

Becoming a carpenter requires talent in a variety of technical, writing, and social skills. Successful carpenters should be able to interpret blueprints, solve problems, use power tools, and make precise calculations. 

Writing is important because carpenters will regularly draft formal proposals, send detailed invoices, and write highly specific reports on the conditions of buildings they evaluate. 

Interpersonal skills are essential for marketing your business – especially if you are self-employed – organizing busy schedules and employees, and managing conflict when it inevitably arises.

Anyone can aspire to become a carpenter, and entry requirements to carpentry programs in the US are typically not as competitive as liberal arts programs. 

A career in carpentry can lead you to exciting places, as building and designing skills are eternally in demand. 

With a carpentry diploma or certification, you can specialize in areas like drywall, commercial development, deck-building, or even teaching. 

We have compiled a list of the best carpentry schools in the United States that have been listed among the best programs on popular higher education websites. 

Located in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the country, you will likely find the perfect fit for your career goals. 

Without further ado, here are 10 of the best carpentry schools in the US.

Williamson College of the Trades (Media, PA)

Williamson College of the Trades
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Offering one of the most comprehensive degrees on this list, Williamson enrolls students in an Associate in Specialized Technology Degree. 

Students who sign up for this program desire to hold leadership positions as journeyman carpenters, construction superintendents, and contracting firm owners. 

Dynamic coursework occurs in lecture halls, on-site demonstrations, workshops, and on-campus project settings.

What kind of advanced carpentry skills can Williamson undergraduates hope to learn? 

In CARP 252 – Advanced Carpentry Skills II – they will use their project management knowledge to serve as shop foremen on campus projects, assuming responsibility for supervision, estimations, material orders, and safety. 

Graduates of Williamson’s AST degree are hired by regional and national employers like Bancroft Construction Co., Lennar Homes, and Skanska AB. 

With so many transferable skills, Williamson graduates have more freedom than most of their colleagues to travel where their talents are highly sought-out. The more advanced the class level, the more challenging projects will become.

Ivy Tech Community College (Indianapolis, IN)

Ivy Tech is the largest singly-accredited community college in the nation and offers an outstanding education in construction and manufacturing. 

Its construction technology program prompts students to build house mock-ups to scale in the construction lab early in the course sequence, and many carpentry students will participate in service-learning building projects. 

By the end of the degree, each study will be ready to pass the national certification exam.

Construction majors at Ivy Tech can also expect to partner with local businesses on various creative projects involving HVAC work and electrical contracting, making for a comprehensive degree program in skills outside of woodworking.

Many budding carpenters are attracted to Ivy Tech for its diverse program options. In addition to offering an AAS diploma in construction technology, students can obtain certificates in as few as two semesters. 

A building construction management specialist technical certificate, for example, requires 32 hours of credit. 

All students in this program will take BCOM 100 – Technology for Construction – in which they develop expertise in computer-aided drafting, scheduling software, and proposal design using presentation software.

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (Lancaster, PA)

Stevens’ carpentry technology program places enthusiastic students in laboratories and workshops with the most cutting-edge tools and technology to prepare them to secure lucrative projects and positions in residential and commercial construction. 

The college only admits Pennsylvania residents, with veterans serving as the only exception to the rule.

In a fast-paced course like Carpentry Technology Essential Skills, future carpenters will learn how to erect structures and fixtures made of various elements. 

They gain practice installing cabinets, drywall, and even underground passageways! 

Some tools they can expect to use include bandsaw wheels, air compressors, and bevels. 

As one can imagine, it takes dexterity, caution, and responsibility to utilize high-powered tools effectively.

Thaddeus Stevens graduates do very well for themselves after college. T

he class of 2020 achieved a 96% job placement rate, and 87% were employed full-time within their major. 

Regarding salary, they earned between $32,500 and $42,500 annually at employers like Ashley Furniture, Dream Builders, and Snyder Heating & Remodeling.

Fox Valley Technical College (Grand Chute, WI)

Fox Valley Technical College
BananaGirl66, Appleton Campus, CC BY-SA 4.0

Fox Valley Tech is an excellent option if you’re interested in residential construction. 

Offering a 39-credit technical diploma, students will learn how to build and/or remodel a home from start to finish. 

This requires sufficient practice in completing exterior and interior finishes, memorizing building codes, and working as part of a dynamic team.

Student projects are supported by the Fox Valley Construction Management Association (FVCMA), which offers experiential learning opportunities via field trips, seminars, national conventions, and guest speaker series.

96% of Fox Valley Technical College’s most recent residential construction graduations have progressed to obtain positions within their major, while others enjoy fulfilling work in construction management technology, electricity, and pipes trades preparation. 

Salaries exceed $60,000 in various positions, which is higher than usual for a carpenter just beginning work after college.

St. Cloud Technical & Community College (St. Cloud, WI)

A graduate from St. Cloud Technical can expect to enter their first job at the level of an advanced apprentice. 

The goal of St. Cloud’s building construction degree program is to prepare students to thrive in a variety of positions and industries. 

They will be ready to succeed in residential and commercial construction as well as cabinetry, millwork, and highway and bridgework.

With a 100% job placement rate for 2021, it is rare for two graduates to work in the same type of role. 

From building inspectors, lumber yard manager trainees, and ceiling tile installers, St. Cloud encourages students to tap into the areas of construction and building where they are most passionate and talented. 

Some will even opt to become customer service representatives for major construction firms.

Outside of the flagship building construction program, undergraduates can choose to enroll in the architectural or electrical construction technology program.

The former exposes students to civil drafting, engineering, and blueprint reading, while the latter focuses on training participants in AC generator theory, variable frequency drives, and lighting.

Bismarck State College (Bismarck, ND)

For the most part, Bismarck State focuses on preparing undergraduates for jobs in residential construction. 

The college offers a nine-month option where participants construct an entire single-family home in Bismarck. This extensive process involves reading blueprints, installing cabinetry, and various essential tasks. 

Those who complete this program will earn a program certificate, though they can complete additional coursework to obtain a 60-credit AAS diploma. 

Students can expect to be exposed to all the challenges they might experience in real-world residential construction contexts, including carrying heavy loads, climbing ladders, using power tools for extensive periods, and being exposed to elements like vibration, heat, dust, and noise.

AAS candidates will enroll in various humanities and social science courses to pursue a diploma, ensuring a well-rounded education. 

Classes like Introduction to Professional Writing and Fundamentals of Public Speaking will prepare them to secure short-term and long-term jobs on exciting projects and be confident enough to start their own business and market their services to a broad audience.

Atlantic Technical College (Coconut Creek, FL)

Atlantic Technical promises to immerse its students in all aspects of carpentry, including planning, finance, labor relations, and safety. 

In addition to working on homes, businesses, and other buildings, graduates also join teams dedicated to concrete formwork, bridge construction, and shipbuilding.

What kind of skills can an Atlantic Technical College student expect to learn? There are, of course, technical skills like painting, roofing, and hand tool use – but that’s not all! 

Undergraduates will practice surveying a site layout, estimating job costs, and using different scale drawing techniques. No two days are the same at Atlantic Tech!

Students are graded on both independent and group projects. 

In a course like Rough Framing Carpentry, students will erect the foundation of a building, cut and install framing parts for a wood floor system, make sure all work complies with hurricane building codes, construct a frame for a staircase, and apply appropriate thermal boundaries and water management systems.

Des Moines Area Community College (Ankeny, IA)

Few colleges guarantee enrollees a job within one year of enrolling – Des Moines is affordable and makes good on that promise. 

Its DMACC building trades diploma prepares students for satisfying careers in commercial or residential construction.

One of the program’s greatest assets is the level of one-on-one attention that students receive; they remain with the same teacher throughout the year-long course sequence. 

In this time frame, they will work on multiple home construction sites in the Des Moines area, gaining expertise in framing, trim work, and roofing, to name a few critical skills.

Are you looking for an even more in-depth option? DMACC also offers an AAS degree in construction management, which takes five semesters to complete. 

This program is geared toward preparation for more supervisory roles. Students will practice evaluating work tasks, preparing financial statements, delegating tasks, and improving leadership skills.

Washburn Institute of Technology (Topeka, KS)

Washburn Tech’s building technology and carpentry programs provide students with the knowledge and expertise to complete successful projects in both the commercial and residential realms. 

Undergraduates attend half-days-worth of courses to complete their degrees in two semesters, wherein they’ll earn a technical certificate.

Graduates of Washburn tend to earn $28.23/hour as journeyman commercial carpenters and $20.43/hour as journeyman residential carpenters, which exceeds the average Kansas entry-level salaries by $8-$12/hour.

In a course like Introductory Craft Skills, novice carpenters will learn how to use and store tools safely, while Technical Math I will expose them to the different types of calculations and measurements they’ll be expected to perform in their future jobs. Undergraduates gain significant hands-on experience in floor, wall, and ceiling framing, as well as window installation and masonry.

Green River College (Auburn, WA)

Green River may offer one of the most accessible carpentry technology programs on this list, with both day and evening classes. 

Regardless of whether a student prefers to enter residential or commercial projects, they will all develop expertise in every major category of carpentry, which takes place in a 5,500-square-foot workshop

Within those four walls, they will build full-size mock-ups from the ground up.

One distinct feature of Green River’s carpentry tech program is that it is also the only institution that has an agreement with the Union Carpenters apprenticeship training program. 

Students who maintain a 3.5 or higher GPA have preferential acceptance into the training program and can earn advancement pay based on exam scores after three months of being accepted to the training program.

Students can earn up to five different training certificates or pursue an AAS. Post-graduate employment is virtually guaranteed, as construction of the brand-new Puget Sound transit system is predicted to take 30 more years.