Post COVID19 pandemic, it's fair to expect that the construction industry will soon be returning to work en-masse. There is a lot of work to be done to make up for two years or so of little to no activity. What does that mean for construction workers? There are going to be a lot of job opportunities available in the next year or two.
In preparation for an explosion in the construction employment numbers, now is a good time to look at where salaries currently rate within the construction industry. With that in mind, let's take a look at the top 16 highest-paid construction occupations in 2021 with a focus on where things might be heading in 2022.
Note: Salaries may vary from one part of the country to another. The data used for this article came from 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey data. The salaries used here are estimates that include a 5% increase over 2020 salaries to account for inflation and pandemic-related labor shortages going into 2022.
1. Elevator/Escalator Installers
Salaries for Top 25%: $113,750
Median Salaries: $92,370
Job Description: Certification required. Responsibilities include the installation of elevators or escalators based on specs and government regulations. After installation, elevator/escalator installers are responsible for the testing of finished jobs to ensure the end product functions properly and meets safety standards.
2. Management/Supervisory staff
Salaries for Top 25%: $91,520
Median Salaries: $70,940
Job Description: This category includes both office and onsite construction management/supervisory staff for any and all construction trades. General contractors overseeing the activities of all trades would also fall within this occupation category. Responsibilities include overseeing the day-to-day activities of trade subordinates and the hiring and training of new workers.
Salaries for Top 25%: $86,050
Median Salaries: $70,530
Job Description: Primary responsibilities include the design and installation of boilers throughout the structure or facility. Other responsibilities include the creation of repair and maintenance documentation, the handling of boiler repairs and maintenance, monitoring the proper functioning of the equipment, welding of sections, attaching hardware (safety valves, water tubes, and pressure gauges), and monitoring for issues.
4. Pile Driver Operators
Salaries for Top 25%: $102,160
Median Salaries: $66,330
Job Description: Main responsibility is the operation of a pile driver. A pile driver is a heavy machine that literally drives piles down into the soil. These piles will serve as support for buildings and structures. Other responsibilities include conducting pre-operational checks on equipment and cleaning and maintenance of the machinery.
5. Construction and Building Inspectors
Salaries for Top 25%: $86,730
Median Salaries: $64,450
Job Description: Responsibilities include going to construction sites and inspecting the construction progress on permitted construction projects. Inspectors must be able to read blueprints to ensure that all construction has been and is being done according to the specs approved by the city/county/state engineer.
Salaries for Top 25%: &80,470
Median Salaries: $62,460
Job Description: A taper is responsible for following up the work done by wall hangers (cement and drywall). The follow-up work includes taping and sealing of cracks with plaster or adhesives, cleaning the wall surfaces in preparation for painting and wallpapering, and verifying the durability of all adhesives and connectors to wall surfaces.
7. Structural Steel and Iron Workers
Salaries for Top 25%: $78,940
Median Salaries: $58,800
Job Description: This is one of the most dangerous of all constructions jobs. Structural steel and ironworkers are required to work on tall buildings for the purpose of installing steel beams and columns to serve as support and form for bridges, buildings, and other large structures. Other responsibilities include working with crane operators to unload materials, lifting heavy girders, steel beams, and columns with cranes.
8. Plumbers and Pipefitters
Salaries for Top 25%: $79,4200
Median Salaries: $58,720
Job Description: Responsibilities include the measurement, cutting, and installation of piping and plumbing pipes and fixtures through the building or structure. This includes underground work, under-house work, and working inside of the structure. Also, plumbers and pipefitters are responsible for testing the functionality of the piping/plumbing systems to ensure they are safe and up to code.
Salaries for Top 25%: $78,040
Median Salaries: $58,130
Job Description: Responsible for reading blueprints and running wires throughout the construction project. Electricians are also responsible for connecting wires to the power grid and the installation of electrical devices and equipment. This would include thermostats, light fixtures, electronic doors/windows, and security systems.
Salaries for Top 25%: $73,270
Median Salaries: $58,040
Job Description: Brickmasons are responsible for the laying of brick structures inside and outside of a construction project. That includes determining the alignment of bricks, mixing the cement/mortar, sealing of cracks, and cleanup work before cement/mortar sets.
11. Operating Engineers
Salaries for Top 25%: $74,730
Median Salaries: $54,700
Job Description: Responsibilities include the design of electrical, security, power storage, and HVAC systems. Subsequent responsibilities include the inspecting and monitoring of these systems to ensure proper functioning to specs.
12. Sheet Metal Workers
Salaries for Top 25%: $73,960
Median Salaries: $54,380
Job Description: Responsibilities include the creation and installation of sheet metal products. The most common products would be ductwork for central HVAC systems, metal pans, drainage systems, and roofing structures.
13. Wall Paperhangers
Salaries for Top 25%: $94,800
Median Salaries: $54,330
Job Description: Responsibilities include prep work (removing any existing paper, cleaning of glue residual, smoothing of application surface), and the application of new wallpaper with adhesives. After the paper has been applied, there is a cleanup process that includes inspecting for paper tears and bubbles, the removal of residual adhesive, and cleaning the final product.
14. Terrazzo Workers/Finishers
Salaries for Top 25%: $78,610
Median Salaries: $54,300
Job Description: Responsibilities include the design and installation of special types of interior and exterior walling and flooring. Special types refer to things like small pieces of marble, glass, granite, or quartz. After the inlet installation process, the terrazzo worker is responsible for sealing, curing, and polishing the finished surfaces until they are smooth.
15. Underground Mining Machine Operators
Salaries for Top 25%: $66,150
Median Salaries: $53,510
Job Description: Responsible for the operation of excavating and loading machinery for the purpose of removing dirt, minerals, and rocks from underground. Most of the work is focused on loading materials on a conveyor belt to move it from one location to another, usually underground to above ground. These conveyors can also be used to move construction materials from big rigs into storage facilities.
Salaries for Top 25%: $67,900
Median Salaries: $52,220
Job Description: Responsibilities include working with lumber (wood) to create structural framing, window framing, wood cabinets, doors, staircases, storage sheds, and any other product that requires woodwork. Other responsibilities include the repair and maintenance of wood items and structures.
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