New Articles

The Best-Paying Construction Jobs


The Best-Paying Construction Jobs

It’s already been a busy year for construction, thanks to surges in new housing development and renovations, as well as changes to businesses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. These factors will likely accelerate already strong growth projections for the industry made prior to 2020. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction employment was projected to grow at a faster pace than average between 2019 and 2029—adding 4% more jobs, compared to 3.7% for other industries. Among the jobs anticipated to be most in demand are solar photovoltaic installers (up 50.5%), tile and stone workers (up 8.6%), and electricians (up 8.4%).

Those and other construction occupations tend to be financially rewarding relative to the level of education required for entry. The vast majority of construction jobs require no formal education or a high school diploma, yet they pay $906 per week—nearly as much as the $938 median weekly earnings of someone with an associate’s degree from college. The median earnings for high school graduates is $781 a week, while those without a diploma make $619.

While construction workers are generally paid well, their paychecks vary widely depending on where they work. The West Coast (including Alaska and Hawaii), pockets in the Midwest, and several Northeast states all pay construction workers higher hourly wages than the rest of the country. Hawaii and Illinois, for example, have a median hourly wage above $34, while Alaska and Massachusetts are around $30 per hour. Meanwhile, several states across the South pay as low as $18 per hour for construction work.

The type of construction work is also a major factor in how well employees are paid. Many of the higher rates fall to areas of specialization, like elevator installers, boilermakers, and pile-driver operators. However, general construction supervisors, inspectors, and more common tradespeople like electricians can also earn higher pay rates.

To find the best-paying construction jobs, researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed the latest data from the BLS. Occupations were ranked according to their median hourly wage. Researchers also included median annual wages, total and projected 10-year employment numbers, and the percentage of workers that are self-employed for each occupation.

Here are the best-paying construction jobs in the United States.

Occupation Rank Median hourly wage Median annual wage Total employed nationally Projected 10-year employment growth Percentage of workers that are self-employed


Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers     1    $42.57 $88,540 24,730 +6.6% N/A
First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers     2    $32.61 $67,840 614,080 +4.8% 8.0%
Boilermakers     3    $31.42 $65,360 14,020 +0.9% N/A
Pile Driver Operators     4    $30.47 $63,370 3,820 +4.4% 2.2%
Construction and Building Inspectors     5    $30.22 $62,860 113,770 +3.2% 6.8%
Tapers     6    $28.58 $59,450 16,320 -4.0% 17.8%
Electricians     7    $27.36 $56,900 656,510 +8.4% 5.0%
Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators     8    $27.10 $56,370 17,590 +3.4% N/A
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters     9    $27.08 $56,330 417,440 +4.3% 8.3%
Brickmasons and Blockmasons     10    $26.48 $55,080 59,940 -6.4% 26.8%
United States     –    $23.37 $48,610 5,937,830 4.0% 14.9%


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Construction Coverage’s website:


U.S. Cities With the Highest Cost-of-Living Adjusted Salaries

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a surge in geographic mobility. According to Pew Research Center, 22 percent of adults in the U.S. have relocated during the pandemic or know someone who did. Interestingly, this reverses a longstanding trend in which Americans were staying put.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that prior to COVID-19, Americans were moving a lot less. In 1981, 3.4 percent of Americans moved to a different county within the same state while only 2.8 percent moved to a different state entirely. By 2019, those percentages dropped to 2.1 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. The share of Americans moving across county lines has remained at a relatively flat, low level since 2010.

As people think about where to move during COVID-19 and beyond, job prospects and earning potential will be top of mind. Median earnings for full-time workers in the U.S. was $50,078 in 2019, a 20.6 percent increase since 2010 in nominal dollars. However, the relative cost of living in a given area impacts purchasing power and should be an important factor when weighing employment opportunities. There is significant regional variation in cost-of-living adjusted earnings across the U.S., with residents in the Northeast and Midwest generally faring better than those in the South or West. For example, median adjusted earnings range from a low of $41,063 in Florida to a high of $58,029 in Massachusetts.

To find which metropolitan areas offer the greatest purchasing power, researchers at Smartest Dollar calculated cost-of-living adjusted earnings using data for full-time workers from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. To improve relevance, metros were grouped into the following categories based on population: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).

Similar to the statewide trends, the small and midsize metros offering the highest adjusted earnings are concentrated in the Midwest and Northeast. Unlike the state-level trends, the large metros with the best pay are scattered throughout the country, with similar levels of representation in the Northeast, West, and Midwest.

Here are the large metropolitan areas with the highest cost-of-living adjusted earnings.

Metro Rank      Median earnings for full-time workers (adjusted) Median earnings for full-time workers (unadjusted) Percentage change since 2010 (unadjusted) Cost of living (compared to national average)
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA     1        $63,727 $82,463 30.7% +29.4%
Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT     2        $60,357 $61,625 18.1% +2.1%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV    3        $59,993 $70,672 17.0% +17.8%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH    4        $59,046 $67,430 24.3% +14.2%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA    5        $58,573 $66,129 28.2% +12.9%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI    6        $58,512 $60,033 21.3% +2.6%
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA    7        $58,331 $76,764 31.5% +31.6%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD     8        $57,575 $61,432 20.5% +6.7%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN    9        $57,222 $51,500 19.8% -10.0%
Raleigh-Cary, NC   10        $56,934 $54,998 19.7% -3.4%
St. Louis, MO-IL   11        $56,624 $51,528 21.8% -9.0%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO   12         $55,894 $58,633 23.6% +4.9%
Cleveland-Elyria, OH     13        $55,892 $50,359 18.8% -9.9%
Pittsburgh, PA   14        $55,798 $51,948 24.5% -6.9%
Columbus, OH   15        $55,530 $51,032 19.2% -8.1%
United States      –        $50,078 $50,078 20.6% N/A


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Smartest Dollar’s website: