Our Top 10 Highest Paid Trades in Construction Industry


    There is a huge debate about studying for corporate job versus going into trades right away to make a construction career. There are many studies that show both sides benefitting financially along the way and today we wanted to underline best paid construction trades.

    It is personal decision which path to make though life and our team can only help provide enough information to make that choice. Remodel On Point is involved in estimating, hiring and taking part of many construction projects. Based on our experience we created a top 10 list of best earners in renovations and home construction.

    Our selected list of highest paid trades within construction:

    • Welder
    • Plumber
    • HVAC Technician
    • Electrician
    • Concrete Finisher
    • Carpenter
    • Mason
    • Roofing Installer
    • Landscape Professional
    • Drywall Tapers

    Describing each trade we are trying to show average wages for each. Comment and let us know if your city or state has different salaries for this list.

    Higher end positions like project managers, architects and engineers are not included in our discussion topic.

    How Much Best Paid Trades Actually Make?

    To make it more clear for readers, Remodel On Point is giving national average wages for beginners or helpers, union rates and regular subcontractor wages. Every trade has options and ways to grow and while independent contractors may make more money, union jobs provide stability and benefits.

    Welder – The job seems to be not to technical or complicated. It’s simply two pieces of metal attached together.

    Education is not required and certificate is optional for welders in construction industry. It is our top 1 choice for highest paid trades list due to high salaries and minimal requirements.

    Apprentice or Helper Welder Makes $18 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Welders is $33 per hour

    Welding Contractors Charge from $60 per hour

    Plumber – One of most technical and hardest trades to learn. To become a plumber one needs to complete years of apprenticeship and pass necessary exam.

    Statistic show that that plumbers are in high demand since 2010. New generation took path of technology and economics instead of licensed trades and experienced plumbers are retiring every day.

    Apprentice or Helper Plumber Makes $16 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Plumber is $34 per hour

    Plumber Contractors Charge from $50 per hour

    HVAC Technician – Every house renovation and upgrade requires HVAC professional to install ducts, radiators or exhaust fans.

    They deal with gas, heat systems and AC on daily basis. The responsibility for this type of work is through the room and they are getting paid for exactly that. HVAC professionals require license for operation.

    Apprentice or Helper HVAC Technician Makes $16 per hour

    Average Union Rate for HVAC Technician is $36 per hour

    HVAC Technician Contractors Charge from $46 per hour

    Electrician – used to be one of the most popular licensed trades in America and now slowly declining in supply of professional workers.

    Electrical work is so dangerous and technical, they have their own code and bylaws. Wiring a light or a switch seems easy to do, but to properly rough in large house, connect appliances and install electrical panel takes a professional to finish. Rough materials cost a fortune as well.

    Apprentice or Helper Electrician Makes $18 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Electrician is $37 per hour

    Electrician Contractors Charge from $47 per hour

    Concrete Finisher – directly work on concrete surface at homes or driveway. Commercial jobs mostly cover sidewalks and roads and these guys pour concrete with exceptionally smooth finish.

    It takes years to perfect the trades and when watching concrete finishers it looks easy. But there is absolutely nothing easy about working with concrete. It is one of the hardest labours out there and working on the street makes it super dangerous.

    Apprentice or Helper Concrete Finisher Makes $22 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Concrete Finisher is $34 per hour

    Concrete Finishing Contractors Charge from $54 per hour

    Carpenter – They are making the shape of the house, levelling floors with walls and set the tone for other trades.

    Every day for carpenter is physically tough, full of complicated structures and very dangerous. No matter what is the weather, carpenters have to finish framing the house for others to be protected within.

    Apprentice or Helper Carpenter Makes $20 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Carpenter is $30 per hour

    Carpenter Contractors Charge from $45 per hour

    Mason – installing bricks and natural stone as a façade for the house is very difficult and should be highly paid.

    Everyday all day long masonry workers make concrete mix, get it up on scaffolds with bricks and install one on top of each other. Work becomes an intense routine and most of installers forget about safety.

    Apprentice or Helper Mason Makes $22 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Mason is $38 per hour

    Masonry Contractors Charge from $60 per hour

    Roofing Installer – associated with most falls at work and skin cancer. Types of roofing materials used for jobs is increasing every day, but all workers perform almost the same tasks.

    No one would argue that roofing on top of the list of most dangerous occupations on America. More people are getting familiar with safety and their rights at work.

    Apprentice or Helper Roofer Makes $22 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Roofers is $38 per hour

    Roofing Contractors Charge from $53 per hour

    Landscape Professional – Seasonal heavy labour that involves carrying stones, digging with shovel and tons of intense labour outside.

    Many immigrants and students work in landscape business as helpers. The market is oversaturated with cheap labour buy lack of highly professional companies. Therefore helpers earn a little while contractors can charge a lot more for completed projects.

    Apprentice or Helper Landscaper Makes $16 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Landscapers is $30 per hour

    Landscape Contractors Charge from $40 per hour

    Drywall Tapers – make interior walls and ceiling look perfectly smooth. Of course drywall installers before them cannot be savages and leave large gaps or uneven connections.

    Just like many other highest paid trades, drywall tapers are not required to have any certification or licensing. Their work is very linear and all they do is put mud on the walls and smooth it out. Dust is everywhere and most of tapers work in masks.

    Apprentice or Helper Drywall Taper Makes $15 per hour

    Average Union Rate for Tapers is $28 per hour

    Drywall Taping Contractors Charge from $40 per hour

    High Rise and Commercial Highest Paid Trades

    It made sense separating two completely different fields and creating a separate top 5 list of best earning trades specifically for high rises.

    • Crane Operator
    • Elevator Installer
    • Inspectors
    • Machine Technician
    • Sheet Metal Worker

    In commercial and high rise industry there are less subcontractors and individual companies that are not part of the union. For these 5 best paid trades we are just underlining rates that union guarantees.

    Crane Operator

    In high rise industry the highest earners and single most important people on entire jobsite that control complicated operations. Crane operator is definitely one of them. There is usually one crane or sometimes two per high-rise building construction.

    Average Union Rate for Crane operator is $56 per hour

    Elevator Installer

    Unpopular trade or profession in construction is elevator installer. It could involve small residential elevators, commercial loading elevators or even temporary lifts for condo buildings. Many lives depend on safety of elevator and they should be highly experienced to work as master installer.

    Average Union Rate for Elevator Installer is $45 per hour


    There are several types of inspectors that you can find on jobsite. Some of them are responsible for ensuring the quality of work, some manage and inspect safety aspects and some are the regulator of building codes.

    Average Union Rate for Inspector is $44 per hour

    Machine Technician

    Large construction sites involve heavy equipment and machinery for transport of material and operations. When something breaks down, we call a technician directly on jobsite to fix it without being towed to shop.

    Average Union Rate for Machine Technician is $42 per hour

    Sheet Metal Worker

    The last our list are workers that cut, install, prepare and simply deal with sheet metal. Material to be handled is sharp and heavy. It may cause lots of work related injuries and workers are compensated to take the risk.

    Average Union Rate for Sheet Metal Worker is $38 per hour

    Steven H.
    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.

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