Half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $50,460 and the top 25% make at least $71,000, according to the 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey data and analysis by the NAHB. In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $49,150, while the 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%.
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 the top 25% earning at least $87,160. Boilermakers are a close third highest paid construction craft. Half of these craftsmen working in construction earn more than $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 25% of the pay scale exceed $82,790. Half of plumbers in construction earn more than $55,920, with the top quarter 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.
NAHB economist Natalia Siniavskaia provides more analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.