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Career Story: Self-Employed Carpenter

Self-Employed Carpenter

Job Title: Self-Employed Carpenter

Type of Company: My main customers are individual homeowners. Primarily I do renovations of existing structures.

Education: BS History, Nasson College •• MAT, History, Bridgewater State College

Previous Experience: I worked a variety of summer jobs that trained me in the construction field.

Job Tasks: Typically my job includes meeting with the client, estimating the time and cost of a job and completing the work involved. Initially I discuss the client's needs, review the problems and devise a strategy that will satisfy the needs, both practical and aesthetic, of the job.

A typical day involves ordering materials, cutting and fitting materials and preparing for the next day. Being a carpenter is not only about pounding nails, it also involves good communication skills, an appreciative eye, a thorough knowledge of materials and best practices and the ability to begin and complete a job. Perhaps the most important element is the ability to communicate well. Typically, the client does not understand the needs of the job and is intimidated when discussing the details. It is the job of the independent carpenter to make the job clear and less intimidating to the customer.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I am an independent contractor so I set my own schedule and rate of pay. Also during my day I am using my whole being, body and mind. Much of the time I am working outside and, in any year, I may work at six different locations.

The worst elements of my job are some of the repetitive tasks that are involved in say, shingling a house. Also, dealing with adverse weather.

Job Tips: If you are intent on some sort of self-employment, taking some basic business courses would be helpful. Also, in the trades, working with a mentor is perhaps the best way to develop your skills. I would also recommend that you familiarize yourself with other aspects of the building trade, i.e. plumbing, electrical, foundation work, etc. Any work you do is likely to be part of a more complex renovation.

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