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Highest paid occupations in construction in 2023

Half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $58,500 and the top 25% make at least $79,450, according to the latest May 2023 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) and analysis by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $48,060, while the top quartile (top 25%) makes at least $76,980.

The OES publishes wages for almost 400 occupations in construction. Out of these, only 46 are construction trades. The other industry workers are in finance, sales, administration and other off-site activities.

The highest paid occupation in construction is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with half of CEOs making over $172,000 per year. Lawyers working in construction are next on the list with the median wages of $166,450, and the top 25 percent highest paid lawyers making over $221,220. Out of the next ten highest paid trades in construction, eight are various managers. The highest paid managers in construction are architectural and engineering managers, with half of them making over $145,180 and the top 25 percent on the pay scale earning over $176,270 annually.

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Among construction trades, elevator installers and repairers top the median wages list with half of them earning over $103,340 a year, and the top 25% making at least $129,090. First-line supervisors of construction trades are next on the list; their median wages are $76,960, with the top 25% highest paid supervisors earning more than $97,500.

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 $65,790 and the wages in the top quartile of the pay scale exceed $88,800. Half of plumbers in construction earn over $61,380, with the top quartile making over $80,300. Electricians’ wages are similarly high.

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Carpenters are one of the most prevalent construction crafts in the industry. The trade requires less formal education. Nevertheless, the median wages of carpenters working in construction exceed the national median. Half of these craftsmen earn over $57,300 and the highest paid 25% bring in at least $73,800.

The OEWS program adopted a new estimation methodology in 2021. As a result, the previously published estimates are not directly comparable to the post-pandemic editions.  Nevertheless, comparing the median wages in construction over the last two years reveals that, on average, lower-paid occupations experienced a somewhat faster wage growth. Median wages of drywall installers, for example, grew 11%. Moreover, the overall construction median increased 7.3%, one of the largest increases among all industries.

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