Construction Worker Wages Higher Than National Median

Working construction might be a taxing career, but you can be paid well for your efforts.

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According to an analysis of government data by the National Association of Home Builders, the median income for payroll construction workers in the U.S. in 2019 was $49,030, nearly $10,000 higher than the national median wage of $39,810. The top 25 percent of construction workers make at least $68,690, while the top 25 percent nationally make at least $64,420.

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The analysis also points out construction wages are rising faster than national wages, with some specialized trades like stonemasons and roofers experiencing year-over-year wage increases of seven and five percent, respectively. In contrast, the national median wage increased just three percent year-over-year.

The NAHB posits that labor shortages are causing builders to pay their employees more and make higher subcontractor bids, which in turn leads to an increase in home prices. And while the reasons for the construction industry’s skilled labor shortage are multi-faceted, there is one solution to the shortage that seems almost obvious: making a career in construction more appealing to younger generations.

Jobs in the construction trades present a unique opportunity to young people looking for an alternative path to the traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program. Construction industry jobs rarely require expensive education, and as the data above suggests, they typically pay as well if not better than the national median.

A recent study by AdvisorSmith showed “construction manager” is the second highest paying job in the U.S. that does not require a college degree, second only to “nuclear power reactor operators.”

Here is a rundown of the highest paid occupations in construction and their median annual wage in 2019:

  • Elevator/Escalator Installer/Repairers: $84,230.
  • First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades: $65,790.
  • Boilermakers: $65,540.
  • Construction and Building Inspectors: $62,580.
  • Pile Driver Operators: $62,440.
  • Tapers: $59,060.
  • Structural Iron and Steel Workers: $55,950.
  • Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters: $54,880.
  • Electricians: $54,750.
  • Brickmasons/Blockmasons: $53,170.
  • Terrazzo Workers and Finishers: $52,680.
  • Operating Engineers: $51,680.
  • Sheet Metal Workers: $51,550.
  • Underground Mining Machine Operators: $49,760.
  • Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers: $49,090.
  • Carpenters: $48,550.