Orrin Macik knew as a teenager that he liked working with his hands. “I was crafty,” he said, “I took shop class in high school. On the side, I painted cars. I commandeered my parents’ garage and thought I’d go into the automotive field.” But by the time he was 20-years-old, Macik’s career had taken a different direction. He was working for a home builder, a job that gave him the opportunity to try out many different building trades. He fell in love with the skill and precision it takes to be a finish carpenter and never looked back.
From there, Macik’s career path looks similar to many in the trades who pride themselves on quality. While working as an independent contractor making cabinets, stairs, and wainscot for a local builder, he started to find more and more opportunity to take on his own jobs. For a while, Macik worked full-time as a sub and spent nights and weekends working for himself, until he couldn’t put it off any longer, and finally started Macik Custom Woodworking & Contracting, LLC.
As it did for many builders, worked slowed down for Macik when the US economy and building market crashed in 2008, but for the most part, his business has thrived. Today he employs three carpenters and balances his time running the business with the time he spends building things, which remains his passion. The company designs, builds, and installs custom cabinetry, millwork, and furniture. Macik has always lived and worked in the Pittsburgh, PA area, which turns out to be one of the best places to be a carpenter.
AdvisorSmith, a consulting firm that helps businesses with insurance, recently published a study of the best US cities for carpenters. Using data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s cost of living index, the study looked at three criteria: availability of jobs in each city, average salaries in each city, and the city’s cost of living. So, despite all the generalizations about the skills gap and the great shortage of skilled labor, where exactly are the best opportunities for carpenter? According to AdvisorSmith, the top ten cities for carpenters are:
- Kankakee, IL
- Longview, WA
- Carbondale, IL
- St. Louis, MO
- Elgin, IL
- Fond du Lac, WI
- Peoria, IL
- Springfield, IL
- Atlantic City, NJ
- Michigan City, IN
Macik’s home town isn’t in the top ten. But the study breaks down the results into three more lists, grouping small, medium, and large cities together. Pittsburgh is number three on the top ten best big cities for carpenters. Macik is not surprised.
“I do think it is a good time to be a carpenter in the Pittsburgh area,” said Macik, “Over the past few years, Pittsburgh has consistently ranked on the best cities to live in the U.S. list. Thus, attracting new couples and singles alike wanting to live here and adding to our local economy. Pittsburgh also has a lot of history as well as a number of older neighborhoods…that have gone through a revitalization. New construction is also on the rise with much of it being upscale homes. With my business focusing on high end interior renovations including custom woodworking, cabinetry, and select furniture builds, there are plenty of affluent homeowners in the Pittsburgh area in need of our skill set.”
If you are looking for the right place to get started as a carpenter or just want to see if your city ranks among the best places for carpenters to live, you can see the published study here.