Sponsor spotlight: Residential construction offers high-paying career paths

Photo courtesy Irons Brothers Construction.

Careers in residential construction are rewarding professionally and financially. Skilled trades such as carpentry or plumbing do not require a four-year degree. In addition, many skills tradespeople do not have to wait to complete training to start earning income. Apprentice opportunities in the skilled trades allow students to earn while they learn. Once training is complete, skilled trades professionals have strong earning potential.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) analysis, half of the payroll workers in construction earn more than $54,540 and the top 25% make at least $77,030. The BLS publishes wages for more than 400 occupations in construction. Here is a closer look at the median salaries among the highest-paid wages in construction based on the most recent data available (2022).

Plumbers. The median wage for plumbers was $60,070 in 2022. Plumbers install, repair and maintain pipes in residential, commercial and/or industrial buildings. In general, plumbers are excellent listeners and problem-solvers. As long as there are complex water systems in and outside of homes, there will be a need for reliable plumbers.

Electricians. Qualified electricians are always in demand. The median wage for electricians was $59,300. Electricians have excellent analytical skills, are adept at diagnosing problems and work with a variety of tools and technology.

Brickmasons. Laying brick is one of the oldest and most respected trades in the construction industry. Masonry construction uses brick, stone, marble, granite, travertine, limestone, concrete block, glass block, stucco and tile. The median wage for brickmasons is $59,130 annually. 

Carpenters. Carpenters are needed in all construction areas and are often employed throughout the entire construction process. Thus, it is one of the most secure jobs in the industry. The best carpenters are critical thinkers who are detail-oriented. Skilled carpenters earn $52,400 annually.

First-Line Supervisors. Seasoned tradespeople have the opportunity to manage people and projects. First-line supervisors play a key role in making sure projects are completed on time and budget. The median wage for an employee in this role is $74,330.

If you, your child or a family member is interested in local programs, here are some resources:

Job Corps has great training for youth: cascades.jobcorps.gov

Construction Industry Training Council of Washington offers a great program for working while learning: citcwa.org

Programs at Seattle Central CC:

Wood technology: woodtech.seattlecentral.edu

Preapprenticeship construction training: woodtech.seattlecentral.edu/programs/pre-apprenticeship-construction-training

“Whole building” residential construction certificate program: www.seattlecolleges.edu/micropathways/residential-construction

Perry Technical Institute in Central Washington: www.perrytech.edu

South Seattle College apprenticeship training: georgetown.southseattle.edu/apprenticeship-education-center/apprenticeship-training

For more information on skilled trade training programs, apprenticeships and career opportunities visit the Building Industry Association of Washington.

— By Joseph Irons
President, Irons Brothers Construction

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