Carpenters work throughout the construction industry, cutting, shaping and fastening wood during construction and finishing of properties, both residential and commercial. They work on construction sites or fabricate wood structures in workshops before installing them on site. Carpenters may install floors, doors, roof trusses, cabinets and wood-panel walls. A carpenter's pay rate will be affected by factors including location and experience.
In May 2009 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a survey of employment throughout the United States. It collected wage data from 743,760 individuals working as carpenters and calculated that the average hourly rate for the occupation was $20.98. This extrapolates to a monthly income of $3,637 and an annual salary of $43,640. This corresponds with figures produced by PayScale.com in 2011 that placed the average rate for carpenters at between $14.82 and $24.23. The BLS also reported that those in the top 10 percent of earners received an average of $34.01 while those in the lowest-earning 10 percent got $11.83.
Wage by Industry
During its survey, the BLS found that the three industry sectors that employ the greatest number of carpenters are residential building construction, nonresidential building construction and building finishing contractors. It listed the average hourly pay rates for these sectors as $19.69, $23.32 and $22.05 respectively. Foundation, structure and building exterior contractors were listed at $19.80 while carpenters working within the motion picture and video industries were likely to receive $27.97 an hour.
Wage by Experience
Salary analysis website PayScale.com surveyed hourly pay rates for carpenters in relation to experience. As of 2011, it found that the average rate for a practitioner with less than 12 months in the field was between $9.50 and $13.50. With the accrual of one to four years' experience, the rate rose to between $11.80 and $19.19. Five to nine years in the profession resulted in an hourly pay rate of between $14.52 and $21.49, while an individual with 10 to 19 years of experience behind them could expect to receive between $15.51 and $24.68. A veteran of 20 years or more was likely to get between $17.24 and $25.89.
Wage by Location
The BLS' 2009 survey also demonstrated how location can affect carpenters' pay rates. At state level, Hawaii, Alaska and Illinois topped the table with pay levels across all industry sectors of $30.79, $28.40 and $27.44 respectively. In contrast, Montana was listed with an average rate of $16.96. The metropolitan district listed as the most lucrative for a carpenter was the Hanford, Corcoran area of California -- $36.45 -- followed by Fairbanks in Alaska with $31.87. The Punta Gorda district of Florida was listed at just $14.56.