If you’re considering a career in construction, you might be thinking about becoming a general contractor. This position is also often called a construction manager, since the job involves supervising construction projects from beginning to end. Before you decide whether to get the proper training and licensing for this job, get to know how much you can expect to make as a general contractor in the US.
The Average Pay to Expect
If you’re just wondering what the range of salaries is for a general contractor in the US, here’s the breakdown. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage was $89,300 in 2016. That works out to just under $43 per hour. This amount can change from one year to the next, but it’s a good start for estimating what you could make as a general contractor.
However, the median is the middle 50 percent, which means you could earn much more or much less than that. The BLS states that the lowest 10 percent of general contractors in the US earn less than $53,740, while the contractors in the top 10 percent earn over $158,330. So what determines what kind of salary you’ll make as a general contractor? There are a few details to consider.
Factors That Can Alter How Much You Make
Like most other jobs, the amount of training you have going into the position often helps determine your starting pay. Though this career doesn’t require a college degree, the most competitive candidates for the job usually have one. Having a degree in construction management, engineering, or a similar topic may increase your odds of getting a job and should help you start at a higher salary. Of course, work experience also helps, so expect to make more the longer you’ve been a general contractor.
Your location is also important. If you work in an area with a high cost of living and a high demand for construction, you will likely make more than general contractors in other locations. For example, the top paying state for general contractors is New Jersey, with an annual mean wage of $141,500. Other states that pay well include Alaska, New York, Rhode Island, and Delaware, all of which have a mean wage of over $111,000.
Finally, the amount you make can also depend on which type of construction you do. The highest paid workers tend to be computer systems design contractors. This is usually followed by building equipment contractors, nonresidential building contractors, and residential contractors. So if you don’t have a specialty yet, consider average salary when making a decision on which type of contractor to become.
Some contractors end up starting their own contracting business so they can be their own boss. If you take this route, you may be able to earn even more than average. Just make sure you take into account the fact that you’ll need insurance for your business. Most insurance providers have policies that are specific to general contractors, so ask for an estimate on the type of policy you’ll need in this industry.