How Much Money Can I Make in a Construction Job?

Man Sawing Wood for his Construction Job

Have you heard that construction jobs pay well? If you have, you heard right!

Construction is a very lucrative field where experienced professionals earn as much – and, in many cases, more – than their peers who have college degrees. It’s one of the few fields you can enter right after high school, quickly work your way up, and earn a great living with solid benefits.

So, how much do construction jobs actually pay?

It’s a fair question, and we’ll do our best to provide a complete and satisfying answer. To understand how much money construction workers make, it’s important to note the difference between what you can earn starting out vs. what you can earn over time.

Short-term earnings vs. long-term earnings

In the construction field, experienced professionals can earn a great living. According to the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), annual salaries for in-demand construction jobs include the following figures:

  • Heavy equipment operator: $62,910
  • HVAC Technician: $65,341
  • Structural Welder: $62,446
  • Pipe Welder: $70,482
  • Plumber: $73,320
  • Framer: $52,495
  • Drywall Installer: $54,473

Since these are average salaries, it’s worth noting that many professionals in these fields earn much more than this. Experienced workers often move into supervisory and management roles, where they enjoy even higher salaries.

Of course, these workers didn’t start off earning that kind of money right out of the gate. They earned less in the beginning and more over time. The construction industry tends to promote from within. So after you demonstrate a certain level of skill (this always comes with experience), you become eligible for promotions and, of course, a higher rate of pay.

It’s reasonable for senior-level career construction professionals to expect to earn high five-figure or even six-figure salaries. And they didn’t even have to go to college to enter the field!

At the outset, however, the rate of pay for a construction job is relatively modest. All of those workers earning more than $60,000 today started out making between $13 and $17 per hour in their first construction job. That’s how it works in this industry. You start off in an hourly position, develop your skills, and start taking on more responsibility.

Short-term earnings are similar to what you might make in a retail or call center job. The big difference, however, is that those jobs will always only pay you $13-$17 per hour. In a construction job, you can quickly work your way up into a higher pay rate.

A construction job is an investment

Think about a high-earning person you know or have heard about. Unless they were born rich, they probably had to make a significant investment in themselves in order to start earning a lot of money.

Consider a person training to become a doctor. Before she is able to practice, she has to take four years off of work to earn a college degree. After that, she has to take another four years off to attend medical school. Then she might work as a medical resident for three to seven years. Residents earn a living, but it’s not nearly as much as a practicing physician (or, for that matter, an experienced welder).

But what this would-be doctor understands is that those years of no-to-low earning are an investment in her future.

In the end, it all pays off because the doctor has a career in which she can earn a very high salary, enjoy great job security, and feel good about the work she does each day. To enter the construction field you have to have a similar mindset. In the beginning, you may not earn any more than you did in your last job. But if you stick with it, you almost certainly will earn much more in construction than in any other job you’ve had in your life.

The best part? Unlike the doctor, your investment in a construction career won’t take 10 years or more to pay off. Depending on the company and the nature of the work, it’s common for construction workers to take on additional responsibilities and receive promotions after just a year on the job.

You also won’t have to take on any student loan debt to enter the field. Through opportunities like Construction Ready’s construction job training program, you can get the training you need without paying a dime. Construction Ready also introduces you to potential employers; most students in the program receive a job offer before the training is over!

In construction, you earn more than just money

Besides limited earning potential, one glaring feature of so-called “dead end” jobs is that workers rarely have an opportunity to create anything they’re proud of. While all forms of work are honorable, not all forms of work result in something that workers find meaningful.

Construction jobs, however, are very different in this regard. At the end of a project, you get to look at a building, a bridge, a dam, a highway, or a house that you helped build. You can show it to your family and your friends. You can be proud that you contributed to your community.

In construction, you get to use your hands to build something real. It’s a feeling you don’t get in a lot of other professions.

So, yes. A construction job does offer a high rate of pay and the ability to earn great money. But it offers more than that, too. In the construction field, you can make a great living while contributing to projects that make a real difference in people’s lives. That’s worth a lot — even if you can’t put a price tag on it.

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