A 2017 study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce says nearly 3.5 million people have good-paying construction jobs in the U.S. and earn a median salary of $59,000, according to www.forbes.com.
However, the industry has been struggling with a workforce shortage, and that challenge is pushing salaries even higher.
Bob Ernst, president of FBN Construction, Boston, says his company has had to increase salaries significantly during the past five years.
"We generally do what we have to do to keep them," Ernst says. "Some of our skilled carpenters are making $80,000 to $110,000 a year."
Ernst says the workforce mainly consists of middle-aged people, and there aren't enough young people entering the construction industry to eventually replace them.
"We have management level positions made up of people who came from the trades and learned how to run projects," Ernst says. "There is a career path. One of the reasons I grew FBN is to create a vertical ladder for my employees to climb."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction managers earn $101,000 annually on average.
The Federal Reserve reports that in 2016, 42 percent of graduates borrowed money to pay for college; on average, those students graduated owing between $20,000 and $25,000. Construction companies often make it known that a career in the trades can offer a path with no student debt, as well as potential for advancement and active jobs that can help keep people fit. However, the trades also can be an option for college graduates.
If the construction labor shortage continues to worsen and demand for workers increases, young people interested in the trades could see more opportunities and higher salaries.