A survey conducted by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) has revealed that salaries for many skilled craft positions in the construction industry continued to rise in 2018. More than 130 companies participated in the survey, and the reported earnings do not include overtime, bonuses or incentive pay. The NCCER is a nonprofit that promotes careers in construction.
The 2018 survey shows average annual salaries for 32 categories of workers, with project managers ($92,523) and project supervisors ($88,355) making the most money. The next highest salaries went to combo welders ($71,067), instrumentation technicians ($70,080), pipe welders ($69,222), power line workers ($68,262), industrial electricians ($67,269), millwrights ($66,919), tower crane operators ($66,329) and mobile crane operators ($66,119). All in all, there were 19 positions that earned an average salary of $60,000 or more.
Since NCCER’s previous survey of 2015 salaries, the average annual pay for HVAC technicians has increased the most (20%), from $52,026 in 2015 to $62,472 in 2018. Sheet metal worker salaries rose 18% ($49,189) from 2015 to 2018 ($58,160). Other trades that experienced salary increases were plumbers (up approximately 15% from $51,804 to $59,627) and scaffold builders (up more than 12% from $47,166 to $52,990). There were, however, salaries that decreased between 2015 and 2018, and those trades included tower crane operator, rigger, sprinkler fitter, welder, structural fabricator and heavy equipment operator.
Despite the construction booms taking place in many metros across the U.S., salaries and hourly wages for construction workers have been slow to budge, but recent industry reports show that they are finally starting to climb.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in October reported that average hourly construction wages increased to $30.18 in September, marking the first time that the figure has exceeded $30 an hour for U.S. construction workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. September’s hourly wage was up from $30 in August and was more than 3% higher than it was in September 2017.
A 2018 workforce survey conducted by the AGC and Autodesk also revealed that wages for craft workers are on the rise. Of the total firms that responded, 62% said they had raised hourly pay for trade workers. In addition, 25% also offered their employees bonuses and incentives. About a quarter of surveyed companies also said they had expanded employee benefits programs. Only 11% responded that they had no plans to increase pay or benefits in the near future.
However, despite the upward movement of wages, 80% of companies responded that they were having problems filing craft positions.