Journeyperson Carpenter, Instructor

Matt Stovall is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. His childhood dream was to be a doctor. He did well in math and science in school, and everyone said medicine would be a good career fit. But a summer job made him rethink his future.

"The fact that you're never alone—it's always a group effort."

Matt Stovall is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. His childhood dream was to be a doctor. He did well in math and science in school, and everyone said medicine would be a good career fit. But a summer job made him rethink his future.

What changed your mind about university?

I always planned to go to university, but I got a job in a custom cabinetry company right after high school and really loved it. I was 24 when I finally went to university, and by then I realized I didn’t want it as bad as maybe I should. I was always thinking about when I could get back to a jobsite.

Did you know about apprenticeship?

Not really. I started as a general labourer. I have a good work ethic and could always handle whatever job I was given, so I was quickly noticed by supervisors. I was given jobs the other labourers couldn’t do. I never even considered apprenticing until I was 28.

What made you become an apprentice?

A site foreman at one of my jobs asked me about signing up as an apprentice carpenter. He had ties to the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) and introduced me to the Joint Training Coordinator. I heard about the increase in pay and how a lot of guys with their journeyman’s ticket have gone on to huge opportunities. I wanted those opportunities, so I signed up.

Was signing up through SIIT helpful?

Definitely. When you sign up through SIIT, the Joint Training Committee acts like your employer, so you only have to sign up once. They keep track of your progress; you just send them your hours every six months. They also have lots of resources and job coaches with great ties to construction companies.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

The fact that you’re never alone—it’s always a group effort. It’s the same on the jobsite; there are normally 2 or 3 guys figuring out how to do a project. That’s one of the big draws for me as a carpenter—the teamwork.

How was the journeyperson exam?

I failed my first attempt. There were things happening in my personal life, and I lost focus. But I resubmitted last March, wrote the test in April and heard that I’d passed in June. I also won an award for guys who come through adversity and get a high mark. That was a really nice surprise.

How did it feel to get your ticket?

I have vivid memories of the guys ahead of me getting their ticket and thinking, someday that will be me. So it was great coming back to the worksite and saying I got it. Everyone is proud of you. You get an immediate bump in pay, and you become an example for guys coming up.

How did you become an instructor?

It was kind of lucky. I’d just been laid off in March—that’s one of the downsides of construction—and my wife and I were expected our third child, so I needed to work. I kept in contact with the SIIT Joint Training Committee, and the co-ordinator called me up one day and asked if I’d come and tutor some third year students who were having trouble with math. Through that, I got wind of an instructor position at SIIT, so I submitted my resume and got called for an interview.

Did you get the job?

No, it went to somebody with more experience. That didn’t surprise me, but they said they had a different position. It was a new initiative, a construction worker preparation program for inmates at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. Did I want to instruct that? I said absolutely.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said owning my own contracting company. Now that I’ve moved into teaching, it’s thrown me for a loop; I don’t know exactly where I want to be. But I’ll always have my journeyperson’s ticket, so the future is wide open.

The Trade:

Carpenters construct, renovate and repair buildings and structures made of wood and other materials. You can also specialize in two subtrades: framing and scaffolding.

To register as an apprentice carpenter, you must be working in the trade and under the supervision of a certified tradesperson.

Apprenticeship training for carpenters is available through SIAST, SIIT and regional colleges around the province.

It takes four years, including annual technical training and on-the-job experience, to complete your training in the carpenter trade and be eligible to take the journeyperson’s exam.

Getting interprovincial Red Seal certification allows you to work across Canada.

Learn more

Search the National Occupational Classification website, NOC code 7271. Visit the SATCC website for information on trades careers. Or check out the Carpenter page.