Last Updated on June 20, 2022
How much money do construction workers make? A great question to ask today. The construction industry is experiencing a chronic and severe labor shortage. This unfortunate news, however, could mean good opportunities for someone. Construction work can be an excellent career choice for young people or even a great career switch for those already established in the workforce.
A construction worker is a type of general labor where a non-skilled individual works a physical job with hands-on tasks. They are a jack-of-all-trades, but master of none, who assists trades in completing tasks. No formal education or training is required to become a construction worker, but qualities that make a good construction worker include:
- Enjoys working with your hands
- Can learn new skills on the fly
- Enjoys working outdoors
- Able to perform repetitive tasks
- Communicates well
Once on the job, a construction worker can shadow more experienced personnel and get certifications or licenses, so they can start an apprenticeship, join a trade, operate heavy equipment, drive a truck, or move into management.
According to U.S. News, here’s how construction workers rate job satisfaction when it comes to upward mobility, stress, and flexibility:
- Opportunities for advancements and salary – high
- Work environment and complexities of the job’s responsibilities – high
- Alternative working schedule and work life balance – below average
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), just more than 1.5 million people were employed as construction workers in 2020 and employment growth is expected at a rate of seven percent between the years 2020 and 2030.
Besides a decent pay, construction worker jobs offer on-the-job training, upward mobility potential, outdoor work, long-term job security, wage growth, and winters off.
U.S. News posted a report that showed construction workers making $34,000 in 2010 rose to 43,000 in 2020. That’s a wage growth of 2.6 percent per year, which is a little better than the inflation rate for that same time period—2.2 percent.
How much money do construction workers make?
How much a construction worker makes depends on several factors, including geography, seniority, and who you ask.
The BLS lists $37,520/year ($18.04/hour) as a median, $25,770 ($12.39/hour) as the median for the bottom 10 percent, and $65,780 ($31.63/hour) as the median for the top 10 percent (for the year 2021). The hourly rate is calculated by dividing the annual by 2080 hours (52 weeks times 40 hours per week).
According to salary.com, a construction worker makes on average $38,658. They make about $34,349 on the low end and $42,921 on the high end (no year given for the data).
Ziprecruiter posts construction worker annual salaries at 19,500 on the low end, only 33,012 as the median, and 47,000 on the high end.
According to U.S. News, in 2020, construction workers made a median salary of $37,890, the top-paid 25 percent made $50,330 that year, and the lowest-paid 25 percent made $30,690. On the hourly side, this translates into $14.75 on the low end and $24.20 on the high end.
CareerExplorer.com offers a median in line with the above $37,700, but breaks down seniority even more. According to the web site:
- Starting level construction worker earnings (10th percentile) begin at $28,280/year ($13.86/hour).
- Junior level construction worker earnings (25th percentile) begin at $30,780/year ($14.80/hour).
- Mid level construction worker earnings (50th percentile) begin at $37,770/year ($18.16/hour).
- Senior level construction worker earnings (75th percentile) begin at $48,040/year ($23.10/hour).
- Top level construction worker earnings (90th percentile) begin at $70,310/year ($33.80/hour).
Best and worst locations
The states that pay construction workers the most, according to CareerExplorer.com are:
New York $55,440
New Jersey $54,690
These five are really set apart from the rest of the states since there is a big gap of nearly $7,000 (a 12.6 percent drop in wages) before the sixth state, which is Rhode Island at $47,790.
And CareerExplorer.com says the states that pay construction workers the least are:
Again, there is a large gap (of 15 percent)—this time it’s in between the third and fourth lowest median construction worker salaries.
This is how a construction worker’s salary compares to other similar jobs (according to CareerExplorer.com):
Stone mason $48,000
Stone cutter $38,000
Forklift operator $38,000
Cabinet maker $38,000
Furniture finisher $37,000
Indeed.com puts the national annual salary of all employees (for the year 2019) regardless of job type at $51,168 ($24.60/hour). According to PolicyAdvice.com, the average annual real wage in 2019 in the US was $65,836 ($31.65/hour).
Plenty of advancement opportunities
A construction worker can move up with some training and experience into more skilled, better paying construction jobs.
Becoming an apprentice through a registered apprenticeship program will make you into a journeyman—someone who is skilled at a building trade (roofer, painter, mason, carpenter, electrician, etc.).
You could acquire licenses or certifications for some jobs that allow you to specialize in soils, hazardous waste handling, equipment operation, or landscaping—aspects for which general construction workers are ill-equipped.
Another option is to work through the seniority levels beginning with assistant supervisor, supervisor, estimator, and project manager. Depending on the size of the company’s projects and how quickly you wish to become project manager, formal education may be necessary.
The project manager position is a transitional role. All the other above roles are “field” roles. Being a project manager means being in the field and in the office. This is because you have to meet with other people in operations and with key partners during the pre-construction phase, such as designers, architects, engineers, and clients.
From project manager, you can move into other positions within operations, depending on your talents, desire, and the opportunities within the company. These positions include chief financial officer, vice president, and CEO (chief executive officer).
And finally, at any point during your career in construction, preferably after you have had a few years’ experience and additional training, you can start your own construction company.
There is no end to the current labor shortage in sight. That means a continued opportunity for interested people to enter into the construction industry and find success. Success with less job competition to worry about. If you’re ready, start applying today.
On the other hand, if you are already in a business, maybe even managing your own, then consider possible ways to grow. Whether big or small, making the most of your business requires utilizing vehicles and equipment that are affordable and offer your team great utility. Take a look at Municibid’s extensive catalog and see what heavy machinery will add to your business today.