General Contractors oversee the ins and outs of construction projects, such as the construction site, vendors, trade organizations, subcontractors, and all involved parties involving construction projects. General contractors are also known as project managers or construction managers. For all that responsibility, the average general contractor salary is higher than the overall national average salary. So, what do General Contractors, or Construction Managers make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics page the Mean (Average) hourly and annual figures are $46.88 and $97,510, respectively. These figures are based upon 52 work weeks at 40 hours a week. Personally, I’d be surprised if general contractors only work 40 hours a week.
There are a number of elements that affect actual salaries, so we at GCLG have put together this article to help you understand those elements. In addition, we’re going to share some insight into the wages of various job areas.
What does a general contractor salary depend on?
I’m glad you asked. General contractors’ salaries vary according to the following:
Although a degree is not required to be a general contractor it will provide you with valuable knowledge for success in the field. It can also help boost pay when negotiating the salary amount. Degrees provide a level of credibility, beyond simple work experience.
As per any career area, experience provides for better pay, but it’s not just your experience as a general contractor, it’s your experience in the field of construction. Don’t expect to land a construction management job without having spent time in the “trenches.” Oh, and don’t expect top dollar when you first venture out as a general contractor, either.
References also play a part in negotiating salaries. A portfolio of successful work with praise from clients can figure positively when discussing pay. What employer or client would want to pay big money to someone with no, or bad, references?
Although certifications are not necessary, they, like degrees, lend credibility and provide valuable knowledge in preparing for the exams. One can become a certified construction manager through the Construction Management Association of America.
Regional location also plays a part in salaries, not only by state but also the geographical location in each state. The top two paying states are New Jersey and Alaska, with annual mean salaries of $140,00 and $122,250, respectively. In Anchorage Alaska, the annual mean salary is $128,390, whereas the Southeast Alaska non-metropolitan area has an annual mean salary of $117,540.
What industries pay the best?
According to the Occupational Handbook, the top paying construction manager fields are:
Heavy and civil engineering construction focuses on such projects as highways, dams, and other non-building type structures and ranks with computer system design and architecture, two other technical fields, in pay. Fields such as these are specialized, allowing for higher salaries.
Across the board, the variation in salaries is a result of education and certification requirements, customers’ project budgets, and project design. Heavy and civil engineering requires the use of expensive and specialized equipment, as well as academically trained, and certified personnel, thus driving the cost up.
Nonresidential building construction also requires the use of heavy and sometimes specialized equipment. Many nonresidential projects are multi-storied, requiring the use of cranes and specialized lifting equipment that is not necessary
In moving down the list, the size of the project, the expense and specialization of required equipment, and personnel education and certification requirements decrease. Residential construction generally does not use the scope of equipment that each of the other three use and allows for the use of less skilled labor than the other three fields.
What states have the highest average annual salary?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies the following five states as having the highest average annual salaries for general contractors.
You may have noticed that all 5 of these states are in the Northern parts of the US. All but Alaska have fairly dense populations for their size and continued population growth, which results in more construction, thus higher salaries. Alaska, on the other hand, is vast in size and not as heavily populated, but it offers unusual environments due to it’s geographical location. With this comes harsher work conditions, thus higher pay to attract and retain workers.
What states have the highest employment numbers?
In contrast, the five states with the highest number of employed general contractors are as follows.
You’ll notice that New York is the only state on both lists. This information could be invaluable if you’re looking to relocate to ensure better chances of employment. New York might not be the best place to try to get a job as a general contractor, as it is both one of the top five in pay and in employment.
Alaska, the second highest paying state has lower employment numbers than New York state, which should allow for better employment opportunities. If you don’t mind the bitter cold and short winter days, it might be worth looking into.
Although the other four states are not in the top five in pay, they are in the top five in employment. Based upon these numbers, the competition is probably fairly high, with the exception of Ohio as it has the lowest number of employed general contractors.
The Department of Labor Statistics does not identify the lowest paying 5 states, however it does identify the states that have the lowest salary range of $62,690 to $83,990, which is still above the national average wage of $48,098.63, reported by the Social Security Administration. As one can see, General Contracting can be a lucrative business.
Construction and extraction occupations
Having focused on information regarding general contractors, let’s take a look at construction and extraction occupations.
A review of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals the large number of occupations that fall under this heading. A number of the occupations might not be familiar, such as Service Unit Operators - Oil, Gas, and Mining; Hazardous Materials Removal Workers; and Mine Cutting and Channeling Machine Operators.
Among those, and other unusual titles, you will find familiar occupations, such as Electrician, Carpenter, Roofers, Construction Laborers, and Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters, but for now, let’s take a look at overall numbers. Keep in mind, these numbers are for all the jobs that fall under the heading Construction and Extraction Occupations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics page, the Mean (Average) hourly and annual figures are $22.88 and $47,580, respectively. Again, these figures are based upon 52 work weeks at 40 hours a week. It’s not surprising that these means are lower than those of a General Contractor, as these are not supervisory positions.
Here are the 5 top paying states for this occupational group:
It’s not surprising to see both Alaska and Hawaii as having the top two mean annual salaries. Cost of living is high in both states, due to their locations in the continent. Alaska ranks #1 most likely due to the working conditions, which require higher salaries to attract and retain workers.
In comparing the mean annual salaries for General Contractors and Laborers, it is obvious that supervisory positions will pay higher, but one can’t just jump into a General Contractor position without some experience in the construction industry. You gotta pay those dues first.
Of course, if you want to delve into the details of any of the occupations in Construction and extraction occupations, the information is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just click on the title of the occupation that you’d like to learn about and you’ll find information on the Mean Annual Salary, as well as the salaries of the top 5 paying states, and employment demographics.
As you can see from the info above, General Contractors’ salaries are definitely above average. Something to really look into if you’re interested in the construction industry. Unfortunately, you can also see that general construction laborers’ salaries and below average, but hey, the industry has to have workers, and General Contractors generally come from some of those fields. Right?
Well, that’s a fair amount of information to digest, but we at GCLG felt it was worth sharing. What do you think?
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