Top Posts: Highest Paid Occupations in Construction


With the end of 2018 approaching, NAHB’s Eye on Housing is reviewing the posts that attracted the most readers over the last year. In June, Natalia Siniavskaia analyzed construction wage data.

According to the most recent release of the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $45,820. In comparison, the US median wage is below $37,700.

The OES publishes wages for close to 380 occupations in construction. Out of these, only 54 are construction trades. The other industry workers are in finance, sales, administration and other off-site activities.

The highest paid occupation in construction is Chief Executive Officers (CEO) with half of CEOs making over $167,000 per year. Petroleum engineers are close behind with the median wages of $159,330 and the top 25 percent on the pay scale earning over $194,300 annually. Lawyers and flight engineers are next on the list with the median wages of $134,010 and $127,130, respectively. The next ten highest paid trades in construction are various managers. Half of architectural and engineering managers make over $124,030 and the top quartile earn over $159,930.

Among construction trades, elevator installers top the median wages list with half of them earning over $79,000 a year, and the top 25% making at least $98,890. The median wages for rotary drill operators is close to $70,000, with the top quartile of the pay scale earning over $77,100 annually. Boilermakers are third highest paid construction craft. Half of these craftsmen working in construction earn over $65,380, and the highest paid 25% bring in over $78,150.

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 $58,300 and the wages in the top quartile of the pay scale exceed $77,930. Half of electricians and plumbers in construction earn over $52,000, with the top quartile making over $70,000.

Carpenters are one of the most prevalent construction trades in the industry. The trade requires less formal education. Nevertheless, the median wages of carpenters exceed the national median. Half of carpenters working in construction earn over $45,370, and the highest paid 25% earn at least $60,470 annually.

2 replies

  1. Interesting. Though, I wonder how pilots are involved in construction?

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