A man framing a structure.

Carpentry Foundation Program

A hands-on program

The best way to learn carpentry is to build a house. That’s why VIU carpentry students train by building a house in the community. With the job site as your classroom, you get the best education possible.

We’ve worked with industry to build a program that teaches you the skills you’ll need when you enter the workforce. The VIU Carpentry program has a reputation for excellence, and local employers want to hire VIU Carpentry grads.

Can’t I learn carpentry as a labourer on a job site?

You can work on a construction site as a labourer without taking a foundation program. But you make less money and you can get stuck doing the same kind of tasks for years. When you’re a paid labourer, nobody on that job site is there to teach you. You’re often expected to figure things out for yourself. And you can get labelled as a bad worker when you don’t know how to do something you haven’t been trained to do.

With the VIU foundation program you get jobsite experience combined with dedicated instruction. So you gain those skills that make you stand out as an exceptional worker. You start work at a higher rate of pay and you get to do more interesting parts of the job sooner. 

What to expect

In this 8-month program, you divide your time between classroom on job site training, building a house in community.

The program includes a two-week work experience placement. Many of our students get permanent work from this. And with work experience, you interview the employer, so you get a chance to find the right fit for what you want in a job.

VIU has strong ties with the Canadian Home Builders Association-Vancouver Island, City of Nanaimo building officials and many other builders, sub-trades and suppliers. So you have options with your work experience.

What you learn

The program focusses on basic carpentry skills and framing. Program topics include:

  • safe work practices
  • documentation and organizational
  • tools and equipment
  • survey instruments and equipment
  • access, rigging and hoisting equipment
  • site layout
  • concrete formwork
  • wood frame construction
  • building science
  • construction math
  • business operations
  • emerging workplace
  • employment strategies

When you complete the program, you receive SkilledTradesBC Level 1 Carpentry certificate. And you can apply for a carpentry apprenticeship with a professional building contractor or a carpenters' union. Learn more about Apprenticeships.

Program costs

See program details page for current fees.

Additional costs

Textbooks and supplies: approximate cost $1,300
Transportation costs to job site: cost varies
(All fees are subject to change without prior notice.)

Admission requirements
See Admission Requirements for details.


To become a student in the Carpentry Foundation Program, apply to VIU.

Morgan Brown, Journeyman Carpenter

“I like the teachers, they’re really knowledgeable, really prepare you for what to expect. It was really fun to go back each year. There are things about the trade that you had to be in the classroom to learn, you can’t learn it all on-site. And you can tell on the worksite who has the schooling. It gave me a jump up on everyone. I would recommend that other students complete their apprenticeships. Following through on all the apprenticeship levels was totally worth it. One of the bigger companies just hired me because of my Red Seal Certificate and they’re paying big bucks.”