Carpentry is essentially a skilled trade whose basic operations require cutting, installation, and shaping of building materials at the time of constructing ships, buildings, concrete formworks, timber bridges, etc. The trade is predominated by males; though there is a sizeable population of female carpenters. While there are many countries which do not necessarily take carpentry as something requiring academic clearances, there are a few countries such as the United States of America, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia that conduct some notable competence tests in this field.
One can make a good career out of carpentry, and there is a one really convenient way to do so: Freelance carpentry. The freelance carpentry community is ever-expansive, and with time, has become a fairly profitable industry; however, in order to establish oneself as an efficient and reputed freelance carpenter, there are a few points you must keep in mind.
In this article, we shall know all the necessary tricks helpful in carving out a magnificent career as a freelance carpenter.
1. Skills required to become a freelance carpenter
Carpentry is a blend of science and art, and it is not easy to master both in a short span of time. Carpenters possess myriad of skills, and some even specialize in specific tasks such as the construction of kitchen cabinets, etc. Additionally, there are different categories of carpenters, with each requiring certain specific skills; such categories include industrial carpenters, commercial carpenters, residential carpenters, etc.
There are some skills common to all categories, and those have been mentioned below:
- Mechanical skills: Carpenters must be flexible and robust to handle a variety of machines and tools. Such inventories include electronic levels, rotary tools like power saws, ladders, etc. As a freelance carpenter, you will have to deal with distinct requirements from clients which may require the use of different tools—you must be willing and capable of making use of such tools if essential for the completion of the work assigned.
- Bodily fitness: Carpenters must be physically strong: they must be able to carry tools, make use of heavy machines and tools such as power saws, and must be able to handle all sizes of work without much grizzling.
- Math skills: This goes without saying that math skills are indispensable to the whole carpentry trade. One cannot be a skilled carpenter if he lacks the much needed scientific temper and arithmetic precision.
Math skills are needed to accurately measure materials, calculating costs of the project, etc. There is a continuous interplay of algebra, arithmetic, geometry, statistics, and calculus in carpentry.
- Eye for detail: Precision cannot be bargained in carpentry. Carpenters must keep in mind the specifications in mind while doing the measurements or installing items.
- Critical Thinking: Carpentry is depended upon a number of things: distributors of wood, the client’s specifications, co-workers, and underlings, etc. There may be situations when the completion of the work is being delayed, or there are frequent changes made to the assignment by the client. It is during these situations a carpenter must be able to think it through and come up with workable solutions.
- Communication: It is essential to establish a smooth and coherent channel of communication and understanding between you and the client. You must listen to the client carefully and incorporate everything he requires (unless the demands are unreasonable!) The more attentive you are to the client, the more reputation you gain and hence, more work.
- Creativity: While it is important you pay attention to every detail given by the client, you should be able to convey better and more creative ideas to the client. This will provide you more opportunities to work on different assignments.
2. Job Specifications
While carpentry is usually a matter of practical skills, there are courses which impart both theoretical and practical knowledge apart from granting you a shiny certificate. The following points will clarify the whole thing:
- In India, there is a number of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) established under the aegis of the Directorate General of Employment & Training, which functions under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship of the Union Government.
- These institutes offer courses on carpentry, which cover a wide array of subjects such as Familiarization of hand tools, multiple chiseling practices, the layout of various furniture, measurement of materials, categorization of joint framing joints, plywood, etc.
- The most common form of education in carpentry is through apprenticeship. Such apprenticeship usually requires three-four years to finish. There are varying eligibility criteria in different countries such as in the United States, for an apprenticeship program, the candidate must be minimum 18-year old and a high school graduate; in India, the eligibility courses generally require successful completion of 8th grade from a recognized school. There are notable apprenticeship programs in India such as the Apprenticeship Training Scheme monitored by the Directorate General of Training, whose duration is one year for those candidates who have written the ITI main examination. For rookies, it generally takes three years. During the apprenticeship period, the trainees are legally entitled to a stipend.
- There are a number of foreign carpentry schools from where you can obtain certifications such as the College of Southern Nevada, Palomar College, Florida State College, etc. Some of the institutes even offer diploma courses, and for more information, you will have to put in extra hard work and research tirelessly.
- While certification is recommended, it is not mandatory. One can become a carpenter purely through practical engagement. This has been the most conventional form of carpentry, and it is still workable as ever. It is the years of experience which create the maximum impact, and if you have them in plenty, you are bound to rise high.
3. What is pay rate?
The freelance community is not fixed as far as pay rate is concerned. An experienced and well-qualified freelance carpenter may earn as much as $21 per hour and as low as $11 per hour. Much of the rate will depend upon a variety of elements such as the cost of wood cutting, distribution; specifications of the assignments, years of experience, and whatnot.
Whatever pay rate you place, make sure the same is commensurate with your skills and experience. If you are starting a fresh, you must be able to justify the pay rate you ask for and you can do that through a properly drafted portfolio of skills.
To get a better idea of pay rate, you should become associated with several carpentry associations or clubs, which provide great help in knowing the tricks of the trade. You can find these associations online as well, but you need to put in a lot of research and study before joining.
4. Where to work?
Carpenters can have ample opportunities to work, and some of them have been mentioned below:
- You can start your own carpentry shop, and offer services to the world at large.
- You can seek employment in various construction companies.
- Work with interior designers, and you will be able to work more profitably.
- Make use of the online freelance portals such as freelance.com, worknhire.com, guru.com, etc which serve as common platforms for both freelance carpenters and clients to work together. All you need to do is create an informative profile, submit a well-drafted proposal and follow-up.