How much do construction workers make?

Last updated: May 26, 2024
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Heath Alva
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How much do construction workers make?
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The construction space is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S., with projected growth rates of up to 5% over the next four years.

What this means for job hunters like yourself is that construction workers are going to continue to be in demand. As a result, you’ll get better job prospects and earning possibilities.

You might be considering a job in the construction industry. But before jumping in, you’re probably wondering:

How much do construction workers make?

We’re going to answer that question in this article, compare earning averages across states, and consider some of the factors that influence what you can earn as a construction worker.

What is a construction worker?

A construction worker is someone that works in the building industry. They’re involved in domestic, commercial, and industrial projects. Successful construction relies on teamwork, and every construction worker has a role to play.

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A construction worker’s job title depends on the type of work they do. For example, there are general laborers that dig holes, prepare sites, and lay bricks. Then there are skilled construction workers, such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and tilers.

There are also senior positions available. Construction managers, supervisors, and building inspectors are examples of senior positions.

These team members oversee projects and make sure they meet budgets and legal and safety requirements.

What do you need to be a construction worker?

To work on a construction job site, you'll usually need a high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the job, other training may be required. You can often learn on the job or complete an apprenticeship.

For senior positions, you'll need many years of experience and business or management training. Depending on where you live, there may be requirements for licenses, certifications, and insurance.

To be a construction worker, you need to be physically fit. The job can include working long hours outdoors, heights, and tight spaces.

And, you'll need manual dexterity, self-motivation, and a positive attitude. It's a team environment, so you should be reliable and punctual. You'll also need to be confident using power tools and equipment.

Construction workers need great attention to detail, and the worksite needs to be left clean and tidy.

What is the average wage construction workers earn in the U.S.?

The average hourly wage earned by construction workers in the U.S. is $20.67 per hour.

However, this average differs from state to state and for different roles and experience levels.

For most roles, the average earnings range between $40,000 and $60,000 per year or $19–$29 per hour.

Your years of experience in a role also have a significant impact on average earnings.

Construction laborers with one to three years of experience earn an average of $34,795 per year. Those with more than eight years of experience earn an average salary of $56,661 a year.

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What other benefits do construction workers get?

Construction workers can be entitled to other benefits. If you work longer hours, you may be entitled to overtime.

Depending on who you work for, you may receive a benefits package. To be eligible, you'll usually have to work full time.

Benefits can include reimbursement for tuition costs, paid time off, and sick leave.

You could also get health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance. Plus, your employer may offer a 401(k) retirement plan. With this account, you can set aside pre-tax income for you to use when you retire.

Average construction worker earnings by state

One factor that determines the pay construction workers receive, other than a difference in job titles, is the state that you’re looking to work in.

Here’s what the average construction worker gets paid in different U.S. locations, from highest to lowest:

State

Median Salary (Annual)

Hourly Wage

Hawaii

$62,690

$30.14

Illinois

$61,240

$29.44

New Jersey

$58,680

$28.21

Massachusetts

$57,610

$27.70

New York

$57,480

$27.64

California

$51,240

$24.63

Pennsylvania

$45,000

$21.64

Wyoming

$37,740

$18.14

Utah

$37,410

$17.98

West Virginia

$36,400

$17.50

Idaho

$35,060

$16.85

Texas

$34,980

$16.82

New Mexico

$34,430

$16.56

Florida

$34,040

$16.37

What factors affect the difference in earnings between states?

There's quite a difference in the average construction worker salary between states.

For example, the average construction worker job in New York demands a yearly salary of $37,211, whereas construction sites in North Carolina pay a fair bit less at $24,327.

So, what creates this difference?

There are three main reasons, aside from your ability to negotiate a higher salary.

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Let's break them down:

1. Local demand for construction

The construction job market in your state is driven primarily by the demand for construction (and hence for construction workers) in that area.

States with a lot of new builds going up will need more workers. When there’s high demand, companies can be short-staffed. If this is the case, you’re likely to make more money.

2. Local laws

State laws around construction differ. In some states, certain jobs may be able to be completed by an entry-level construction worker. In others, a construction manager may be required, which impacts the average earnings.

There may also be local laws relating to minimum wages and overtime.

3. Cost of living

It costs 89.3% more to live in New York than it does to live in North Carolina. It follows, then, that if your cost of living is higher, you need to earn more, driving up the average hourly rate in areas that cost more to live in.

While higher wages can sound appealing, you have to consider your living expenses. For example, you may have higher accommodation, food, transport, and entertainment costs.

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Construction work salaries by job level

The role you’re in also has an impact on the wage you’re earning.

Let’s compare some of the most popular construction worker positions:

Construction manager

Construction managers oversee worksites and prepare and stick to budgets. They work with architects and engineers and manage staff rosters.

Construction managers schedule contractors, such as electricians, installers, carpenters, plumbers, and masons.

It’s a senior-level position, and these workers track construction projects and explain contracts to their clients. And they make sure any legal obligations are met.

Construction managers ensure the building site is safe and the job is completed on time.

How much does a construction manager make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for construction managers is $97,180 per year. This equals $46.72 per hour.

What's the highest salary you can expect? The top 10% make up to $169,070 per year.

Construction inspector

Construction and building inspectors make sure the project meets strict safety requirements. They visit construction sites and check that the work is done at a high standard.

For example, they check electrical and plumbing work and make sure everything meets the relevant state code. And they look through building plans.

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They check the site is level and take photographs throughout the process. If there are any issues, the building inspector may issue a violation notice.

Construction inspectors prepare reports after each visit.

How much does a construction inspector make?

The average hourly pay for a construction inspector is $30.22, or $62,860 per year. Those in the 90th percentile make $101,170 or more per year working full-time.

Construction laborer

Laborers and helpers usually don't need previous experience to work in construction. The role involves cleaning building sites, digging trenches, and assembling temporary fencing.

Laborers help experienced workers by passing them tools and setting up the work area.

They unload building materials and use basic tools. For example, entry-level laborers may use hammers, shovels, and brooms.

Training is provided on-the-job, so you'll learn more skills over time.

How much does a construction laborer make?

The national average salary for construction laborers is $37,080 per year or $17.83 per hour.

The highest paying industries for this job type are heavy and civil engineering and general building construction.

Electrician

Electricians read blueprints and install lights and wiring. They make sure electrical components are working correctly and replace any faulty wiring.

Any completed work needs to meet the National Electrical Code, and experienced electricians can make repairs as necessary.

They often work on building sites with other construction workers. Most electricians start as apprentices and learn their trade from a senior electrician.

How much does an electrician make?

The average annual salary for an electrician is $56,900 per year or $27.36 per hour. The salary range is between $33,810 and $98,720, depending on your experience, industry, and location.

Plumber

Plumbers install pipes and inspect and test them to make sure they're working as they should. They make sure their work meets state building codes.

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Plumbers are an important part of the construction team. They read blueprints and decide what materials they need for the project. And they give quotes to customers before they start work.

If someone has an issue with their pipes, a plumber will be called to troubleshoot the problem.

Plumbers usually need to complete an apprenticeship before they're fully qualified.

How much does a plumber make?

The average salary for a plumber is $56,330 per year or $27.08 per hour.

How can construction workers boost their income?

There are a number of ways a construction worker can make more than the base salary. For example, they can work overtime and take weekend shifts.

If you start as an entry-level construction worker, you can complete an apprenticeship to become a skilled tradesperson.

And, you can upskill. There may be opportunities to learn from senior team members. For example, you can learn roofing techniques, bricklaying, and plastering.

You can also boost your skills by taking short courses and getting licenses and certifications. If you can drive a forklift, install insulation, or have knowledge of welding, it could help you get a new job.

Studying for a degree in management or finance can help open up higher-level construction career opportunities.

Do construction workers get paid well?

Construction is an industry that can be quite lucrative, especially if you’re able to climb to a senior-level role.

Let’s take a look at the pay rates for different roles as a comparison. The average salary scale is between $28,000 and $40,000. In this example, carpenters make the most, while woodworkers make the least:

Job Title

Average Salary (Annual)

Job Title

Average Salary

Roofer

$37k

Construction Painter

$35k

Forklift Operator

$35k

Stone Cutter

$34k

Cabinetmaker

$33k

Furniture finisher

$32k

Maintenance Worker

$38k

Woodworker

$28k

Carpenter

$40k

Where to find a job as a construction worker

If you’d like to apply for a construction worker job, you can search for open positions on our job board.

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Here are a few popular searches from the construction industry:

Is the construction industry right for you?

The earnings potential for construction workers in the U.S. is good, with the average employee earning $20.67 per hour. If you end up working as a construction manager, the average pay rate is $46.72 per hour.

However, some factors influence this, including the state you’re working in, your years of experience, education, and your specific role.

So, do you feel like construction might be the right industry for you?

If so, you can use our job search to find your next construction job. Want more tips? Check out our resource center.

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Gordon Strickler
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There's my pos state of Michigan! 5th from the bottom. Well pay depends on what type of construction work you do. I worked construction for a billboard company for years. In the early and mid 2000's I was making 11.00 an hour. That was with my CDL license and me driving, operating and maintaining 2 cranes, using cutting torches and welding and everything else involved with building and maintaining billboards over a hundred feet in the air. For the last ten years I've worked on a lawn crew and haven't had to be more than a few feet in the air or maybe a roof but I make 16.00 an hour now. Michigan is greedy too.

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samson ourael
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I'm interested I graduated in construction management

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