Carpenter – National Occupational Analysis (NOA)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this National Occupational Analysis (NOA) as the national standard for the occupation of Carpenter.

Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Charpentier/charpentière

NOC: 7271

Designation Year: 1959

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Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Carpenter

Use this self-assessment tool (PDF, 558 KB) to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information


“Carpenter” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This analysis covers tasks performed by carpenters whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:


























General Carpenter


Carpenter – Joiner


Carpenters construct, renovate and repair residential, civil, institutional, commercial and industrial (ICI) structures made of wood, steel, concrete and other materials.

They can work for a wide array of employers, including new home builders and renovation firms, construction firms, building owners, property managers and tenants, building developers and government departments. Some carpenters are union members and a significant number are self-employed.

While the scope of the carpenter trade includes many aspects of building construction, a growing number of carpenters work for contractors who specialize in such areas of trade practice as concrete forming, framing, finishing, interior systems and renovation. Carpenters are employed in a variety of job environments, including houses under construction or renovation, ICI and infrastructure projects, and plants that pre-fabricate buildings. They must be prepared to work in a variety of working environments.

Safety is of prime importance to all carpenters. In addition to typical risks of injury resulting from slips and falls, falling objects and the use of hand and power tools, carpenters must be aware of constantly changing work surroundings to mitigate the chance of injury to self and others. The proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and related training is very important to carpenters regardless of their location of work. Risk/hazard assessments prior to performing tasks are necessary and important.

Some important competencies of a carpenter are good knowledge of mathematics, the ability to use metric and imperial measurements, an understanding of building science, communication and problem solving skills, and the ability to work independently or as part of a team. Other skills present in a competent carpenter are the ability to work at heights, the ability to stand or kneel for long periods of time, manual dexterity and good balance. Carpentry is a physically demanding occupation requiring the lifting of heavy tools and materials. Journeyperson carpenters are expected to mentor apprentices given the hands-on nature of the trade.

This analysis recognizes similarities and overlaps with the work of other tradespersons such as roofers, lathers (interior systems mechanics), drywall finisher and plasterers, floorcovering installers, concrete finishers, ironworkers (reinforcing) and cabinetmakers. Experienced carpenters may advance to supervisory positions, or become independent contractors, due to their involvement in most aspects of building construction.

Occupational Observations

The carpenter trade is constantly evolving with advanced innovations and technology for increased accuracy and efficiency. There is an increase in the use of specialized power tools that are taking the place of some hand tools. Such tools as detail sanders, layout instruments (total stations) and laser levels are making the carpenters’ work more accurate and efficient. Oscillating tools are becoming popular because they make accurate cuts and are extremely versatile. Compressed gas-powered fastening tools are increasing in use due to their portability and efficiency. Scissor lifts, rolling platforms and zoom booms are replacing scaffolding and ladders on many job sites. Cordless tools are now commonplace and are improving in longevity, durability and torque. Lithium ion technology for cordless tools is becoming more common.

Some concrete forming systems are now made of plastics, composites and aluminium, making concrete forming more versatile and efficient. New engineered forming systems such as insulated concrete forms (ICF) have emerged in the industry.

Triple glazed windows and UV rated glass are becoming more popular due to thermal efficiency. For ease of installation and pricing consideration, engineered hardwood and laminate flooring are increasing in popularity. Soundproofing systems are evolving with the introduction of sound transmission class (STC) assemblies including insulation products such as mineral wool insulation (Roxul®). Countertop materials have diversified with materials such as stone, composite stone and concrete.

There are a number of “green building” certification systems becoming commonplace in the governmental and private construction industry. Use of these environmentally friendly systems can influence the selection of building materials and products, and can include building techniques aimed at achieving increased energy-efficiency. Low volatile organic compound (VOC) building products are increasingly being demanded by the public.

Many companies in the construction industry are providing leadership in safety awareness and in the enforcement of safety policies on the job site. Safety training and the development of safety policies and procedures are being done by many companies in excess of regulations.

The renovation sector has ballooned and condo development has increased. Carpenters are becoming more specialized in specific fields of carpentry. The mentoring of entry level workers is becoming more pronounced in the worksite and at apprenticeship technical training.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

Tools are available online or for order.

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

Carpenters need to read work orders, invoices and brief notes from co-workers. They also read and interpret technical documents, drawings, specifications, building codes, regulations, bylaws and standards. Carpenters read notices, bulletins and newsletters to stay up-to-date on workplace issues as well as trade journals and website articles to keep current on industry trends.

Carpenters scan documents, products and signs for symbols and icons to identify workplace hazards. They complete checklists and forms by checking boxes and entering data, such as dates, times and quantities. They locate data in a variety of tables. Carpenters complete a variety of documents such as log books, work orders and building permit applications.

Carpenters write reminders and notes to themselves, customers and co-workers. They write comments in field books, on forms and on schedules about obstacles such as overhead power lines for example. They may also write accident or incident reports depending on the jurisdiction.

Carpenters speak with suppliers to learn about products, prices and delivery schedules. They talk with co-workers and other tradespeople about timelines, procedures, expectations and other work-related matters. They speak with safety and building inspectors, manufacturer representatives and customers, and they participate in worksite meetings. Carpenters may also provide detailed instructions to co-workers and apprentices.

Carpenters must have a thorough understanding of basic arithmetic, geometry and trigonometry. They often work with both the metric and the imperial systems of measurement. They perform calculations and apply formulas to determine offsets, elevations and grades. Furthermore, they use formulas to determine area, volume and quantities, and they calculate runs and rises to build stairs and rafters. Carpenters estimate material and time requirements to complete a project.

Carpenters decide on the order of tasks based on priorities and delays. They consult with co-workers and other tradespeople when they encounter problems to exchange ideas and select the best approach. They choose tools, methods and products for projects based on project specifications, building code requirements and the availability of products, time and labour. Carpenters evaluate the safety of a work site and potential hazards.

Carpenters work in pairs some of the time as this promotes efficiency and productivity. They also work with apprentices some of the time to direct, mentor and monitor their work. Carpenters may also work alone when the task may be performed unassisted. Carpenters are often leaders of the construction team, working together on a daily basis with other trades, forepersons, suppliers and engineers to complete the job through combined effort and organized co operation.

Carpenters use digital survey equipment, calculators and portable electronic devices to complete numeracy related tasks such as calculating material requirements. They may use a variety of software such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, accounting, communication and estimating software. They access information online from suppliers, manufacturers, unions and associations. They may also use the Internet to access training courses and seminars.

There is a requirement for ongoing learning to maintain current knowledge of changing codes, regulations, standards and materials for new construction and renovations. It is also very important to apply new skills and methods emerging due to technological and environmental advancements.


The CCDA and ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada) wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special acknowledgement is extended by ESDC and the CCDA to the following representatives from the trade.

  • Stephen Crouse - Nova Scotia
  • Edward Estabrooks - Prince Edward Island
  • Aaron Hayward - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Detlef Kern - Manitoba
  • David McDougall - Yukon
  • Jason A. Moreau - United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Allied Workers
  • Cornelius Mulrooney - United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Jointers of America
  • Breck Prescott - Northwest Territories
  • Jouni Saarenoja - Alberta
  • Wayne Sembalerus - Saskatchewan
  • Carrol Watamaniuk - British Columbia
  • Bradley Wood - New Brunswick
  • Jason Yull - Ontario

This analysis was prepared by the Labour Market Integration Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the NOA development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. The host jurisdiction of New Brunswick also participated in the development of this NOA.

Comments or questions about National Occupational Analyses may be forwarded to:

Trades and Apprenticeship Division
Labour Market Integration Directorate
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV, 6th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0J9