Skip to main content

Top 10 Construction Jobs for 2021, Ranked

olar panel technician installing solar panels on roof

Skilled construction workers are needed like never before— and with the resource shortage across the globe, there is no better time to consider construction jobs. If you’ve ever wondered which construction jobs are best, we’ve outlined the top ten based on median salaries, the number of jobs available, and education or training required.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook for Construction and Extraction Occupations, construction occupations are expected to grow by 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is around the same as average growth for all occupations, resulting in a predicted 296,300 new jobs by 2029. Much of this is due to the high demand for new buildings, roads, and other structures in response to the rapidly increasing population.

So, which construction jobs are the best?

Every year, US News ranks the top construction industry jobs based on median salaries, open positions, and opportunities for promotion. Different skills and levels of education are required for each, and no two jobs are exactly the same. Read on to find out which construction jobs are best, starting with number 10.

Top 10 Construction Jobs for 2021

#10 Construction Worker

Construction workers can fit into any three skilled trades: carpenters, glaziers, and masons, and in operations, including construction managers and surveyors who focus on administrative work for projects. Construction work is usually progressive. Many workers start out as generalists wo do things like digging ditches, knocking down walls, and unloading equipment. From here, workers can be introduced to a wide variety of construction specialties, such as roofing, pipefitting, structural work, or carpentry.

Median salary: $36,860

75th percentile salary: $49,160

Best-paying states for construction workers in 2021: Illinois, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York

#9 Structural Iron and Steelworker

Structural iron and steelworkers create and/or install steel or iron beams, columns or girders to form buildings, bridges, and other structures. It is important work  without structural iron and steelworkers, 100-story skyscrapers would not be possible. It is demanding work, which is why steelworkers need solid decision-making skills and mechanical knowledge, abdominal and lower back strength, good finger dexterity, and good vision. Many iron and steelworkers learn their trade through an apprenticeship program. 

Median salary: $55,040

75th percentile salary: $75,520

Best-paying states for structural iron and steelworkers in 2021: New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Hawaii

#8 Sheet Metal Worker

Sheet metal workers are responsible for heating and cooling systems (HVAC) and/or industrial, architectural, or sheet metal work. They can make, assemble, or service HVAC systems in buildings, and fabricate or install fans and ductwork. Skills required are critical thinking and a good understanding of algebra and trigonometry. There are apprenticeship opportunities available for those interested in on-the-job training. 

Median salary: $50,400

75th percentile salary: $66,770

Best-paying states for sheet metal workers in 2021: Hawaii, New York, West Virginia, Illinois, Washington

#7 Painter

For those interested in the painting trade, there are plenty of jobs available. Painters are responsible for working on new infrastructure, the outside of commercial and residential buildings, and new architecture developments. A common route is working for building finishing contractors closer to the end of a project. Apprenticeships and on-the-job training are usually required, and credits achieved from the apprenticeships usually even count towards an associate’s degree. 

Median salary: $40,280

75th percentile salary: $53,290

Best-paying states for painters in 2021: Alaska, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts, District of Columbia

#6 Equipment Operator

Construction equipment operators get do to the fun stuff! They run excavators, drive dump trucks, steer graders, and drive asphalt pavers. And that's just a fraction of what they do. With the recent attention on rebuilding America's infrastructure, equipment operators play a central role. In addition to the proper licenses and the ability to work in a physically demanding setting, equipment operators must have good hand-eye coordination, steady hands and feet, and solid mechanical, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. 

Median salary: $48,980

75th percentile salary: $64,370

Best-paying states for equipment operators in 2021: New York, Illinois, Hawaii, New Jersey, California

#5 Glazier

Glaziers work on commercial or residential buildings to cut and install glass for windows, doors, etc. There is much of a physical dependency with this trade, as large pieces of glass need to be carried several stories to the proper area of a new building. A high school diploma is required, and candidates with solid mathematical capabilities are usually preferred. 

Median salary: $44,630

75th percentile salary: $60,190

Best-paying states for glaziers in 2021: New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Hawaii, New York

#4 Solar Photovoltaic Installer

A relatively new profession, solar photovoltaic installers piece solar panels together and install them on homes and commercial buildings. They help building and homeowners generate sustainable energy captured by the sun, and the profession is expected to grow year after year. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts this profession to leap more than 105 percent, resulting in more than 11,900 new jobs by 2026. 

Median salary: $44,890

75th percentile salary: $55,680

Best-paying states for solar photovoltaic installers in 2021: Oregon, Hawaii, Texas, Massachusetts, Arizona

#3 Electrician

Electricians are responsible for designing lighting systems, making sure electrical work is up to code, and installing lights and systems. Electricians can specialize in installing, maintaining, repairing, or designing electrical systems for residential or commercial buildings. It can be a dangerous job, so quality training programs are required. In addition to training, most workers have a high school diploma or equivalent with technical school training before an apprenticeship. 

Median salary: $56,180

75th percentile salary: $73,940

Best-paying states for electricians in 2021: District of Columbia, New York, Illinois, Hawaii, Virgin Islands

#2 Plumber

Plumbers make everyone’s lives easier. It seems that most people don’t really appreciate them until they’re left without water. They develop plans for pipes and fixtures and work to install and connect pipes (either alone or with pipefitters) and work to obtain water supply from the pipes to ensure showers, sinks, bathtubs, or any other appliance that needs water is functioning properly. Training and study are required to become a plumber, and many unions even mandate around 246 hours of education in the technical field. Common skills required include a solid understanding of math and applied physics. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts a 16 percent growth in plumber trades by 2026, resulting in almost 76,000 new jobs. 

Median salary: $55,160

75th percentile salary: $73,380

Best-paying states for plumbers in 2021: Illinois, Alaska, Minnesota, New Jersey, Massachusetts

#1 Construction Manager

Coming in at number two is the construction manager. Their general duties can include gathering worker permits, being ready in case of emergencies on site, scheduling walkthroughs, and updating the clients on project progress. Construction managers work on projects from planning and budgeting, to production, and seeing a project through to completion. Although some tradespeople work their way up to construction managers, it’s becoming increasingly more common to see new managers with Bachelor’s degrees in construction management, engineering, or architecture. 

Median salary: $95,260

75th percentile salary: $126,040

Best-paying states for construction managers in 2021: New Jersey, New York, Delaware, California, Rhode Island

 

Whether you’re involved in one of these trades or you’ve been thinking of joining this rapidly growing industry, construction jobs are here to stay. What new construction jobs do you predict in the next five, ten, or twenty years?


Looking to stay on top of the latest construction jobs data? Subscribe to CEREBRA for free and get monthly market data updates delivered to your inbox. 

About the Author

Sarah is the Lead Content Strategist for Trimble Buildings, CEC (Civil Engineering & Construction), and Geospatial. She has worked on many large scale marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, helping them define their story and shape a compelling narrative. Now, she focuses on creating and sourcing valuable thought leadership content for our readers.

Profile Photo of Sarah Lorek