Apprentice Carpenter

A career in carpentry is ideal for individuals who are good with their hands and like working with wood. There are multiple paths to becoming a carpenter that make it a flexible career to pursue.

How to become a carpenter

Steps to start a career as a carpenter.

Get a High School Diploma

Requirements vary in different parts of Canada. However, most companies and employers prefer you have a basic education, especially a high school diploma or the equivalent Canadian GED. Even in territories and provinces where high school education is not a mandatory requirement, it is important that you possess secondary education, especially in technical drawing, drafting, design, and math. These basic skills will serve as a foundation for you to build your carpentry skills on.

Complete a Technical Course in Carpentry

After a high school diploma, there are two routes to professional carpentry, a college certification or a direct apprenticeship. Many secondary schools offer a carpentry program.  This is a great option to test the waters and see how you like it, in addition to learning some basic skills.  Many secondary schools as well as technical colleges offer a work-study option where you can get real hands-on experience and get paid.

Carpentry Apprenticeship

You can get an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery after completing a basic program in carpentry. An apprenticeship in carpentry is a great way to join the carpentry profession in Canada. You must be  at least 16 years old to be eligible for an apprenticeship. While on carpentry and joinery apprenticeship, you will balance between on-the-job training and college.

Apprenticeships are conducted and supervised by an experienced and certified carpenter. The program takes four years, and you must complete a minimum of 5,400 hours of on-the-job training besides technical training.

While taking a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship outside school, you will work as a hired apprentice and work for at least 30 hours per week. This path will enable you to get the basic skills in carpentry and work with senior and experienced carpenters.   Work experience plays a vital role in employment as a carpenter.

Get Red Seal Certified

Certification in carpentry is not mandatory in every province except Quebec. However, earning a certification is important as it comes with advantages such as increased employability and higher pay. Carpentry is a very broad profession, and certification shows your area of expertise, such as joinery, maintenance, and renovation. You can qualify for certification after completing an apprenticeship or you have four years of proven work experience. To earn a journeyperson certificate, you need to pass a certification exam. To work as a carpenter across provinces in Canada, you are required to sit for the interprovincial exam and become Red Seal certified.

The Carpenter Entrance Exam

Before acceptance into a carpentry program in Canada or in the US you must pass an entrance exam

  • The exam is a multiple-choice test
  • The passing score is 70%
  • The time limit is four hours.

The pre apprenticeship exams generally cover the following topics:

Reading Comprehension

Short written passages are given, followed by multiple choice questions asking for  conclusion, summary, analysis or details from the passage.

Why reading Comprehension is important for Carpenters.  

  1. Reading and Understanding Instructions: You will need to follow instructions carefully on construction projects. Carpenters need to understand blueprints, safety guidelines, or project specifications.
  2. Safety is always important: Carpenters work with  power tools and potentially dangerous materials. It is critical that you understand safety guidelines, warning labels, and procedures to  avoid accidents and injuries.
  3. Understanding Technical Information: You will to read and interpret technical documents such as building plans, schematics, and material specifications on a daily basis.
  4. Problem-Solving Skills: Carpenters must read technical manuals, guides, and documentation to troubleshoot and solve problems-and issues on the job every day.

Mechanical Comprehension

Mechanical comprehension questions cover, simple machines, basic physics such as levers an pulleys, acceleration, open and closed circuits.

Why mechanical comprehension is important


Safety:  Understanding basic mechanical principles ensures you can use tools safely, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Solving Problems: Carpentry projects often involve unexpected challenges requiring an understanding of mechanical principals, quick thinking and the ability to solve problems.

Variety and Versatility: Carpenters work on a wide range of projects, different tasks and environments, from framing and roofing to installing cabinets and finishing work.

Spatial Reasoning

The only way to study for spatial ability questions is to practice and get used to the format.  Spatial ability questions test your perception, not facts that you have memorized.

Spatial reasoning is the ability to understand and manipulate visual information your mind. This includes the ability to mentally visualize objects and their relationships in space, and understand how they move and interact with each other.

Spatial relations, also called visual acuity, practice questions include:

  • Folding and Rotating
  • Assembly
  • Line Following
  • Touching Blocks
  • Blocks
  • Cut Outs
  • Jigsaw
  • Matching Shapes
  • Visual Comparison

What is Spatial Relations Important

  1. Visualization: An important part of the job is interpreting blueprints and diagrams and then visualizing the finished product. Spatial reasoning skills help carpenters understand the often complicated relationships between parts of a project and how they fit together to form the final product.
  2. Problem-Solving Skills: Carpenters use spatial reasoning skills to, for example, to visualize how to fit pieces of wood together to form a structure or how to make accurate measurements.
  3. Precise and Accurate Measurements: Carpentry requires precise measurements and cuts to built structures accurately. Strong spatial reasoning skills help carpenters accurately interpret measurements, visualize how components fit together, and make precise cuts and adjustments as needed.

Basic Math

Basic math topics covered are:

  1. Basic Arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  2. Fractions, Decimals, and Percent: fractions, decimals, and percentages, are very common in carpentry measurements and calculations.
  3. Basic Geometry: measuring angles, calculating areas and volumes of squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles.
  4. Accurate Measurement: Understanding and working with units of measurement (e.g., inches, feet, yards, meters) and converting.
  5. Algebra: Solving equations and algebraic word problems.
  6. Ratio and Proportion: solve problems with ratio and proportion.

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Date Published: Monday, May 9th, 2022
Date Modified: Thursday, February 29th, 2024