Carpentry Schools In California

​​​​Carpenters are highly skilled experts whose primary duty involves manipulating and restructuring wooden structures and other objects, such as fiberglass and plastics, to obtain a completely different framework or structure that fits a specific purpose.

Carpenters are crucial to any construction project. As we’ll see below, there are different paths to becoming a carpenter, each with pros and cons. But once you become one, the salary is quite attractive and can be increased even further by following some key pieces of advice.

In case you’re interested in pursuing a career in this field, below is an in-depth guide on becoming a carpenter in California and maximizing your potential salary.

How to Become a Carpenter in California

To become a carpenter in California, you must first undergo the basic, general steps required of any aspiring carpenter before moving on to state-specific requirements.

Below are some of the most essential general steps for becoming a carpenter.

Step 1: Obtain a High School Diploma

Most carpenters will undergo apprenticeships or enroll in formal programs. Both of these paths require proof of primary education, often provided as a high school diploma or GED.

Students will also learn fundamental skills such as mathematics and drafting that will serve them well in their carpentry training.

Step 2: Finish an Apprenticeship

During an apprenticeship, aspiring carpenters pick up most of the practical knowledge they will need to succeed in the field. Employers or construction unions usually offer apprenticeships.

They last for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 4 years. In the early stages, students learn carpentry fundamentals through topics such as carpentry mathematics safety practices, first aid, blueprint interpretation, and freehand sketching.

In the later stages, students will learn practical hands-on carpentry outside the classroom. This will involve rough framing, layout, form building, and interior/exterior finishing.

Those who complete a formal apprenticeship program receive a journeyman certificate.

Step 3: Enroll in a Formal Training Program

While this step is generally optional, carpenters like to complete it simply because it gives them an edge over the competition. It gives them an advantage in consolidating and increasing their knowledge of the job and the reverence attached to the programs and the certificates they offer.

Topics common to most carpentry curriculums include stair construction, roofing, carpentry mathematics, foundation work, and more.

Step 4: Specialize

Specialization allows carpenters to stand out by honing their skills in a particular field. This could be in the renovation, infrastructure, roofs, or cabinets. Specialized carpenter typically finds it more accessible to market their skills than those who are not technical.

Carpenters are often advised to pick up additional languages to increase the possible locations they can work in. Employers have an affinity for hiring bilingual carpenters, hoping to target more areas in the country where people speak other languages.

Consider exploring trades with similar paths:

Certifications and Licensure

After completing training programs and apprenticeships, carpenters must consider their state certification/licensure requirements before they can practice and earn.

All states have different laws regarding the importance of certifications and licenses. In California, a carpenter can technically practice without a permit but must not take on more than $500 projects.

To take on projects of significant proportion, a carpenter in California must obtain a state license, specifically a Specialty C-5 Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor License or a C-6 Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contractor License.


The above licenses are issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board and require the following conditions:

  • Four whole years of work experience in the last ten years
  • $15,000 bond in place
  • Enrolling and passing the state licensure exam

Top Carpentry Schools in California

Aspiring carpenters in California may consider the following schools for top-quality education.


Los Angeles Trade Technical College

Los Angeles, CA Online + Campus

At the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, interested candidates may enroll in the associate in science degree carpentry program, where they will learn everything they need to start their careers on the right path.

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$1,238 - $9,012
  • (213) 763-5560



Southwest Mountain States Carpenters Training Fund

Ontario, CA Online + Campus

Southwest Mountain States Carpenters Training Fund offers a high-quality carpentry training program that can be completed in four semesters.

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  • (909) 824-9033



Barstow Community College

Barstow, CA Online + Campus

Barstow Community College in Barstow, through its Career and Technical Education and Workforce and Economic Development Department, offers carpentry training for interested individuals in the area.

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$1,104 - $8,952
  • (760) 252-2411


Notable Mentions

Other notable destinations to acquire high-quality carpentry training in California include Long Beach City College in Long Beach, American River College in Sacramento, Sierra College in Rocklin, Laney College in Oakland, and Bakersfield College in Bakersfield.

Explore Carpentry Schools by City:

Average Salaries In State

Carpenters in California are the third highest paid in the country. They earn an average salary of $54,669 every year. The bottom 10% of carpenters in California earn $39,000 every year, while the top 10% earn slightly more than $75,000 annually. These figures are obtained from data provided by Zippia.

Several factors determine the exact amount a carpenter will earn yearly, but the most important are experience and specialization. Entry-level salaries for apprentices are significantly lower than what experienced professionals make.

And the more experience you gain as a carpenter, the more you tend to make.

As for specialization, carpenters also tend to make more or less than the median salary depending on which subcategory they find themselves in. Below is the distribution of wages according to carpentry industries in 2021.

  • Carpenters in nonresidential building construction - $59,020
  • Building finishing contractors - $48,080
  • Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors - $48,080
  • Residential building contractors - $47,820.