Construction is one of the job sectors that took an especially hard hit in the early chapters of the pandemic. In April 2020, construction jobs declined by 975,000 jobs. But the highly profitable industry, which generates nearly $1.3 trillion worth of structures in the U.S. each year, has swiftly rebounded as the country steers toward reopening amid a booming vaccine rollout. Construction jobs were already picking back up as of June 2020, and the sector is continuing to pick up steam. The Labor Department reported that construction gained 110,000 jobs in March.
With residential, institutional, industrial and infrastructure projects picking up steam, we can expect more recovery as the year progresses. Despite the recent (and ongoing) challenges the COVID-19 pandemic thrust onto construction, the industry is expected to grow in 2021 by 15.6%. With the sector flourishing, industry veterans — or those considering an entry-level job — should know what they can expect in terms of compensation. Which positions pay the best and just how much money can you stand to make in this multifaceted field?
15. Rotary Drill Operator, Oil and Gas
- Median Annual Wage: $53,820
An oil and gas rotary drill operator is charged with all the physical aspects of the drilling plans designed by petroleum engineers. It’s their job to set up and operate the equipment that digs the well and extract the natural resources from oil and gas. These workers are proficient in tapping oil and gas that is hidden beneath the earth’s surface.
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14. Structural Iron and Steel Workers
- Median Annual Wage: $54,830
A structural iron and steelworker creates, in a very hands-on way, the forms of buildings and bridges, and does so by implementing steel or iron beams. Due to the perilous nature of this work (which can result in death), these professionals typically undergo apprenticeships to gain the knowledge and skills to get the job done as safely as possible.
13. Brickmasons and Blockmasons
- Median Annual Wage: $55,080
Brickmasons and blockmasons have one of the more outwardly artful gigs in construction, as they’re the pros responsible for constructing and polishing the facades of buildings both commercial and residential. They may also work on other home structures such as fences and patios.
12. Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters
- Median Annual Wage: $56, 330
We all know that plumbers install, fine-tune and repair piping systems in homes, commercial buildings and just about everywhere else with running water; but pipefitters and steamfitters also work in this role. People in these positions often have to work on call because as we also all know, plumbing emergencies happen all the time.
11. Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators
- Median Annual Wage: $56,370
Those railroad tracks don’t build, maintain or clean themselves. Such is the job of the rail-track laying and maintenance equipment operator. These professionals work in an array of environments — from plant yards to underground mines.
10. Loading and Moving Machine Operators, Underground Mining
- Median Annual Wage: $56,640
With most of these construction gigs, the job description is in the title. Those working as loading and moving machine operators in underground mining are responsible for transporting ore, rock, coal and other minerals in mines. Skills in this job include know-how with equipment such as power shovels and conveyors.
- Median Annual Wage: $56,900
There is a growing need for electricians in the U.S. due to a combination of factors, including increased opportunity in green energy projects. An expert in electrical wiring, an electrician works with electrical systems to install or repair lighting, appliances and countless other mechanisms in virtually every space with an outlet (and if there’s no outlet yet, an electrician can surely help change that).
8. Continuous Mining Machine Operators
- Median Annual Wage: $56,920
Continuous mining machine operators manage self-propelled mining machines that tear ores, stone, metal and other elements from the face of the mine and transfer it onto the next vessel (shuttle cars or conveyors, for example), keeping the process smooth and seamless.
- Median Annual Wage: $59,450
Balance, math skills and physical strength are all necessary criteria for a taper, whose job is to prep wallboard for paint using tape. These workers might also lodge and tape the wallboard in place.
6. Roof Bolters, Mining
- Median Annual Wage: $61,190
A mining roof bolter performs a number of intricate tasks on the construction job. He or she handles loose, unstable rock; drills test holes and test bolts; wields torque wrenches; and uses hydraulic machinery among other mechanisms. This role is also critical in the safety department, as these workers test out equipment and test for the presence of methane gas.
5. Construction and Building Inspectors
- Median Annual Wage: $62,860
Building inspectors determine the structural integrity and safety of construction projects. They also make sure that the project doesn’t violate zoning laws, contract terms and other regulations.
4. Pile Driver Operators
- Median Annual Wage: $63,370
Once again, the job description is largely in the name. A pile driver operator operates a pile driver, which is a mega machine that drills foundational piles into the ground (you’d know if you heard one); they’re unbelievably loud.
- Median Annual Wage: $65,360
All these jobs have a manual labor element, but a boilermaker’s job is particularly physically demanding. It is their task to put together, install, keep up and fix boilers and other giant vessels containing gases and liquid. These professionals may travel often for work.
2. First Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers
- Median Annual Wage: $67,840
First line supervisors and managers of construction trades and extraction workers juggle a number of tasks to make a project get off the ground. These workers are responsible for scheduling, training supervisors and other crew as well as accounting and budgeting.
1. Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers
- Median Annual Wage: $88,540
If you’re ever feeling grateful for not being trapped in an elevator or the smooth escalator ride up numerous levels, you have these workers to thank. The elevator and escalator installers and repairers of the world keep our slick and modern world moving, but this is hardly a glamorous job. These pros are often getting the job done in tight crawl spaces and cramped machine rooms. Those with fear of heights need not apply.
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Methodology: In order to find the 15 highest-paying jobs in construction, GOBankingRates used the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2020 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates and isolated detailed occupations filed under the Construction and Extraction Occupations category. GOBankingRates ranked the highest-paying jobs in construction by (1) median annual wage. GOBankingRates also found (2) median hourly wage; (3) average hourly wage; (4) average annual wage; and (5) total employment figures for each occupation. All data was collected on and up to date as of April 27, 2021.