High School Connections

Tomorrow’s Carpenters are in School Today

Thank you teachers, counselors and career coaches for helping young people connect to post-secondary training and fulfilling careers. We want you to have all the information you need to advise and guide students interested in apprenticeships and construction careers. Please join our Educator Mailing list for notifications about events for students and opportunities for your professional development. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in this section or under Outreach Program, please let us know: outreach@pnci.org.

Career Research Support

Hearing from journey-level tradespeople and their apprentices is a great way to learn more about the construction industry. Look for PNCI staff and apprentices as guest speakers in construction classes, at school career fairs and regional career days. Listen to what actual apprentices have to say about their new lifestyle and experiences in our series of short videos too.

Meet Apprentices from the General Carpenters apprenticeship

Students doing career research, for an assignment or their own curiosity, might find facts and data from the resources below to be helpful.

Be aware, however, that occupational information providers typically include both Union and non-union carpenters in their wage and career outlook reports. This can make the average salary for Carpenters seem low. Union Carpenters and their apprentices generally earn an above-average hourly wage, so students may need to dig deeper for accurate, local information.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average (median) income for a Carpenter in May 2019 was $48,330 (or $23.24 per hour). Today, on their first day of their apprenticeship, a new Union Carpenter apprentice in Portland earns $26.28 per hour and will work to qualify for a series of eight raises during their four-year program. That hourly rate will be slightly different for a Pile Driver apprentice in Medford or a Scaffold Erector apprentice in Boise, however. This is because PNCI apprentices are represented by the NW Carpenters Union which bargains for good contracts for each craft in local labor markets across six states, leveraging their members’ excellent training, high productivity and focus on safety to command good wages and benefits.

Build Your Construction Vocabulary

Carpenter: The professional who builds or remodels almost all structures, including houses and commercial buildings, bridges, churches, factories and highways. They work with power and hand tools to build framing for houses, roofs, stairs, decks and sheaths, and forms for concrete. Carpenters install doors, windows and handrails, build cabinets and counter tops. Carpenters perform interior and exterior finish work. They read blueprints, measure accurately and calculate dimensions.

EIS: Exterior/Interior Specialists work on interior and exterior building surfaces and install equipment and material in commercial building such as acoustical ceilings, raised floors for computers, metal framing, wall partitions and office furniture systems.

JATC: Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees oversee each of the apprenticeship programs at PNCI. Each trade has their own JATC, which includes an equal number of representatives from labor and management. The JATC interviews applicants and follows the progress of apprentices throughout their program.

Journey worker/journey person: Today’s apprentices look forward to the day when they “journey out” after completing their apprenticeship. The gendered-term “journeyman” came from the medieval guilds. The word journey is derived from French word journée, which means “day.” During the Middle Ages, at the end of their unpaid apprenticeship, a new journeyman could finally earn daily wages for their work.

Millwright: The professional who installs conveyor systems, escalators, giant electrical turbines and generators. Millwrights are skilled construction mechanics who study and interpret blueprints, and use machine tools and precision instruments, working to specifications requiring tolerances to a thousandth of an inch.

OJT: On-the-Job Training is a hands-on way to learn the skills and knowledge specific to an occupation.

Pile Driver: The professional who works with pile-driving rigs that drive metal or wood pilings into the earth during the early stages of construction. They are usually the first workers at a commercial job site. They drive metal sheet piling to hold back dirt during excavations, drive concrete, metal and wood piling as part of the foundation system for skyscrapers and drive wood and concrete pilings to hold up docks, wharves and bridges. Welding is a key skill. Some Pile Drivers work on offshore oil rigs as commercial divers and be involved in underwater construction.

Scaffold Erector: The professional who erects scaffolding for buildings and ship structures. They install ladders, handrails, walkways, platforms and gangways, and erect, move, dismantle frame scaffolding, mobile tower scaffolding, tube clamp scaffolding and system scaffolding.

Trade: Any apprenticeable occupation.

UBC: The United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners, founded in 1881, has more than half a million members in the United States and Canada.