According to the 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey data and analysis by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $50,460 and the top 25% make at least $71,000. In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $49,150, while the top quartile (top 25%) makes at least $67,410.
Reflecting the divergent paths residential and commercial construction took during the pandemic, overall construction wages did not register sharp gains that would be consistent with a strong pace of home building and persistent labor shortages that weigh residential construction down.
Year over year, median wages in construction rose 3%. However, wages of multiple entry-level construction trades increased faster. Median wages of helpers of various construction tradesmen went up 5%.
The OES publishes wages for 388 occupations in construction. Out of these, only 56 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 $176,160 per year. Lawyers working in construction are next on the list with the median wages of $146,150 and the top 25 percent on the pay scale earning over $201,000 annually. Out of the next 15 highest paid trades in construction, 13 are various managers. The highest paid managers in construction are architectural and engineering managers, with half of them making over $135,910 and the top quartile earning at least $170,920.
Among construction trades, elevator installers top the median wages list with half of them earning over $87,970 a year, and the top 25% making at least $108,330. First-line supervisors of construction trades are next on the list, with half of them making over $67,560 and top quartile earning at least $87,160. Boilermakers are close third highest paid construction craft. Half of these craftsmen working in construction earn over $67,170, and the highest paid 25% bring in at least $81,950.
In general, construction trades that require more years of formal education, specialized training or licensing tend to offer higher annual wages. Median wages of construction and building inspectors are $62,330 and the wages in the top quartile of the pay scale exceed $82,790. Half of plumbers in construction earn over $55,920, with the top quartile making over $75,640. Electricians’ wages are similarly high.
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 $49,730.