Half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $49,070, and the top 25% make at least $75,820, according to the latest May 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) and NAHB analysis. In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $45,760, with the top quartile (top 25%) making at least $68,590.
The top two highest paid occupations in construction are CEOs and lawyers, making more than $162,390 and $152,650 per year, respectively. Out of the next 13 highest paid trades in construction, 12 are various managers. The highest paid managers in construction are architectural and engineering managers, with half of them making more than $135,900 annually.
Among construction trades, elevator installers and repairers top the median wages list, with half of them earning more than $98,600 a year and the highest paid 25% making at least $120,950. First-line supervisors of construction trades are third on the list, with median wages of $72,600 and the top 25% highest paid supervisors earning in excess of $91,310.
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 $61,360, and the wages in the top quartile of the pay scale exceed $78,940. Half of plumbers in construction earn more than $59,810, with the top quartile making more than $78,190. Electricians' wages are similarly high.
Carpenters are one of the most prevalent construction crafts in the industry. Although the trade requires less formal education, the median wages of carpenters working in construction exceed the national median. Half of these craftsmen earn more than $48,420, and the highest paid 25% make at least $62,370.
NAHB’s AVP for Housing Policy Research Natalia Siniavskaia provides more analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.