The Top 12 Best Construction Jobs

Portrait of confident construction workers in urban window
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If you’re considering a job in construction, there are plenty of opportunities to get hired. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that construction will grow 11 percent and add 747,600 new jobs between 2016 and 2026.

Which are the best positions to consider if you want to work construction? The answer depends on your skills, interests, and what you want in a job, as well as the job market. However, there are some jobs that have higher wages and more potential job openings than other occupations.

Education and Training Requirements

Jobs in construction range from lower-paying unskilled jobs to highly paid jobs that require formal training through an apprenticeship program, technical school, or community college classes. None require a four-year college degree.

Here’s what employers are looking for, in general:

Construction Industry Salaries

Construction jobs pay well, especially if you consider the fact that you don’t need more than a high school diploma and an apprenticeship or training program to get hired for most positions. On average, the median annual wage for all construction and extraction occupations was $44,730 in May 2017. That’s about $7,000 higher than the median wage for all U.S. jobs.

The Top 12 Best Construction Jobs

Review this list of 12 of the best construction jobs based on salary and hiring prospects, with the scoop on what you need to get hired for each.

1. Elevator Installers and Repairer: Elevator installation and repair workers top the best-paid list by over $15,000 a year. In addition to elevators, they install and repair escalators, moving walkways and other lifts for people and products. Most people get hired through an apprenticeship. A license is required in many states.

2017 Median Pay: $79,480 per year, $38.21 per hour. Projected Growth: 12%

2. Boilermaker: Boilermakers are next on the list of highly paid construction jobs. They work assembling, installing and repairing large containers that hold liquids and gases. Many boilermakers complete formal apprenticeships programs prior to being hired as a journeyman.

2017 Median Pay: $62,260 per year, $29.93 per hour. Projected Job Growth: 9%

3. Construction and Building Inspector: Construction and building inspectors inspect work sites and new construction to ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

2017 Median Pay: $59,090 per year, $28.41 per hour. Projected Job Growth: 10%

4. Electrician: Electricians work on residential, commercial, and industrial electrical construction and maintenance. They install, maintain, and repair electrical systems. Some electricians complete formal apprenticeships. Others complete a vocational training program or are trained on the job.

2017 Median Pay: $54,110 per year, $26.01 per hour. Projected Growth: 9%

5. Plumber and Pipefitter: Like electricians, many plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters complete apprenticeship programs. Others may attend technical school. Plumbers are required to be licensed in most states.

2017 Median Pay: $52,590 per year, $25.28 per hour. Projected Growth: 16%

6. Ironworker: Ironworkers Install reinforcement rods made of iron or steel in buildings, dams, and roads. They also erect the steel beams for high rise buildings and bridges. Some ironworkers complete apprenticeships, others are trained on the job. Certifications in welding, rigging, and signaling can help you get hired.

2017 Median Pay: $51,320 per year, $24.67 per hour. Projected Growth: 13%

7. Sheetmetal Worker: Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets, such as ducts used in heating and air conditioning systems. Some workers also install nonmetallic materials such as fiberglass and plastic board.

2017 Median Pay: $47,990 per year, $23.07 per hour. Projected Growth: 9%

8. Construction Equipment Operator: Construction equipment operators drive the bulldozers and earth movers, they also operate cranes and other heavy equipment used to build roads, bridges, buildings, and construction sites. On-the-job training or vocational school are both paths to getting hired.

2017 Median Pay: $46,080 per year, $22.15 per hour. Projected Growth: 12%

9. Mason: Masons build walls, walkway, and other structures out of concrete, bricks, and other materials. Most masons attend vocational school or complete a vocational training program.

2017 Median Pay: $42,900 per year, $20.62 per hour. Projected Growth: 12%

10. Insulation Worker: Insulation workers do exactly what it sounds like they would do. They insulate buildings (commercial and residential) to maintain the temperature. Most workers learn on the job.

2017 Median Pay: $39,930 per year, $19.20 per hour. Projected Growth: 5%

11. Solar Photovoltaic Installer: Even though it's not the highest paid occupation, solar technology leads the high growth job opportunities list, with many projected job openings. Workers assemble, install or maintain solar panels on roofs or other structures. There are job opportunities for residential and commercial work with most training provided on-the-job.

2017 Median Pay: $39,490 per year, $18.98 per hour. Projected Growth: 105%

12. Roofer: Roofers install and repair residential and commercial roofs. Most training is on the job, though there are some roofers who complete an apprenticeship program.

2017 Median Pay: $38,970 per year, $18.74 per hour. Projected Growth: 11%

One More High-Opportunity Job

Here's one more job that has a lot of projected openings even though the pay isn't the greatest. For someone without a lot of qualifications or time to apprentice or go to school, a laborer or helper job can be an excellent way to get a start in the construction industry.

  • Construction Laborer and Helper: Most construction occupations have laborers and helpers who assist journeymen workers. These jobs are on the lower end of the wage scale because there are no formal education or training requirements.

  2017 Median Pay: $33,450 per year, $16.08 per hour. Projected Growth: 12%

Find Training Programs and Jobs

For jobs that require training or an apprenticeship, the best way to find programs in your area is to use Google to search for the job you're interested, the terms "apprentice" or "training" and the location where you want to work.

Another option is to use the CareerOneStop Certification Finder. You can search by keyword, organization, industry, or occupation to get a list of certifications with the certifying organization, education and training requirements, and exam requirements.

If you're qualified to start right away, or if the job doesn't require experience, Indeed.com is one of the best sites for finding job listings from many different sources. Search by keyword and location to find jobs that are a match for your skills.