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Green Building News

Construction Salaries On the Rise

A survey finds that workers in 19 job categories have average salaries above $60,000 a year

Salaries for skilled trades were up in 2018, a new survey has found. The construction industry continues to wrestle with labor shortages. (Photo: Keith Ewing / CC BY-NC / Flickr)

Average annual salaries for skilled construction workers were up in the three-year period between 2015 and 2018, with at least one job category showing a gain of 20%, a survey from the National Center for Construction Education and Research found.

Salary information in 32 job categories was submitted by 132 organizations that represent 353,503 U.S. employees, NCCER said. For an industry that is facing an uphill battle in attracting young people into its ranks, the news of rising wages comes at a good time.

The survey doesn’t directly address how wages have changed for residential construction workers because it’s focused on companies that do commercial and industrial work. Many job types in that part of the industry have no direct comparison in residential work. For example, there are no instrument fitters, industrial coating mechanics, or tower crane operators working on houses.

But the survey included several job categories that are typical on residential job sites. Here’s how they changed between 2015 and 2018:

  • Plumbers: A 15% gain to an average of $59,627 in 2018.
  • Carpenters: Up by 5.9% to $56,877.
  • Electricians: Up by 5.8% to $61,139.
  • HVAC specialists: A 20% gain, to $62,472.
  • Masons: A 3.5% increase, to $56,784.
  • Insulation mechanics: Up a scant 0.6% to $52,624.

The survey didn’t gather information on concrete workers, excavators, or roofers. Reported averages did not include overtime pay or bonuses.

Program supervisors and project managers are the highest paid employees, earning an average of $88,355 and $92,523 respectively.

NCCER didn’t attempt to compare pay averages between residential, commercial and industrial workers, so the reported trends really amount to a snapshot of general conditions in the industry.

In all, 19 of the 32 occupations earned an average of $60,000 or more per year. That may help the industry convince more younger people that a four-year college degree isn’t a prerequisite for a successful career.

Labor shortages are a frustrating problem for the industry. A survey conducted by Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk found that 76% of respondents planned to hire additional or replacement hourly craft workers this year, but 80% are having a hard time filling openings. Only 10% of firms said they were having no troubles in finding people to hire.

Carpenters, concrete workers, masons, drywall installers, roofers, plumbers, and electricians all were reported in short supply with more than 60% of all firms reporting that filling those jobs was more difficult this year than last. More than 60% of the respondents said they’d increased pay or benefits for hourly craft workers in the last year in order to attract more candidates.

One Comment

  1. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #1

    The skilled tradesman in the accompanying photo wouldn't be in the profession long if he keeps working on scaffolding like that.

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