Highest Paid Construction Trade Occupations in 2018

Filed in Economics by on October 14, 2019 6 Comments

Half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $47,290 and the top 25% make at least $66,290, according to the 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey data and analysis by NAHB. In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $38,640, while the top 25% makes at least $62,510.

Year-over-year, median wages in construction outpaced the national median wages, 3.2% vs 2.5%. Wages of various construction trades, laborers and helpers rose even faster, ranging from about 7% for plasterers, stucco masons, roofers’ helpers, tapers and floor layers to 3.6% for construction laborers. Stonemasons saw their wages rise by more than 6% and terrazzo workers received wage hikes of more than 5%.

Historically, subcontractor bids increase faster than construction wages, adding more inflationary fuel to housing prices. These findings are consistent with record high labor shortages that are causing builders to pay higher wages and subcontractor bids and forcing them to increase home prices.

Among construction trades, elevator installers top the median wages list with half of them earning over $78,990 a year, and the top 25% making at least $100,720. The median wages for rotary drill operators is close to $70,000, with the top quartile of the pay scale earning over $77,610 annually. First-line supervisors of construction trades are next on the list, with half of them making over $64,600. Boilermakers are a close fourth-highest paid construction craft. Half of these craftsmen working in construction earn over $64,480, and the highest paid 25% bring in over $78,250.

In general, construction trades that require more years of formal education, specialized training or licensing tend to offer higher annual wages. The median wages of construction and building inspectors are $60,240 and the wages in the top quartile of the pay scale exceed $80,580. Half of electricians and plumbers in construction earn over $53,540, with the top quartile making over $71,300.

Carpenters are one of the most prevalent construction trades in the industry. Though the trade requires less formal education, the median wages of carpenters exceed the national median. Half of carpenters working in construction earn over $46,810, and the highest paid 25% earn at least $61,810 annually.

NAHB economist Natalia Siniavskaia provides more analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.

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  1. Keith Harrod says:

    Interesting information

  2. TP says:

    Notice pretty much all commercial construction which means union pay. Homebuilders?
    Like to see that pay scale.

    • Jay says:

      You want to see that pay join a union!

      • TP says:

        Obviously Jay didn’t understand my comment. I am not looking for a union paycheck.
        What isn’t posted is the comparison of residential home construction salaries to commercial.

    • Trey says:

      I’m a commercial superintendent. We self perform and sub. 90% of the trade work we complete is non-union and were one of the largest commercial builders in the Midwest.

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