Construction worker shortage: Top open jobs and what they pay

Eighty percent of U.S. construction firms are unable to fill open slots with qualified workers, a new report showed, including both hourly and salaried positions.

Despite the fact that companies are raising wages to compete in a strengthening labor market, according to a survey from Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) most firms reported having a harder time filling open jobs over the past year when compared with years prior.

The problem is increasing across the country and at firms of all sizes, AGC found. Overall, there were 263,000 job openings in the industry as of July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The worker shortage is impacting the cost and duration of projects, as well as the price of properties, including homes.

As the industry searches for ways to attract new talent, here are the main jobs construction firms are looking to fill:

Salaried Jobs

1. Project managers, supervisors

Nearly half of constructions firms surveyed by AGC said they were having more difficulty finding project managers and supervisors over the past year, while 12 percent reported having the same level of difficulty finding workers as the year prior.

While salaries can vary based on company, region, experience and training, according to estimates from Glassdoor, project managers are one of the construction positions that can earn six-figure salaries. The average base pay is $117,786 per year, and typically ranges from about $84,000 to $151,000.

2. Engineers

About 54 percent of firms had trouble finding engineers over the past year, with 38 percent saying they had an even more difficult time over the past 12 months when compared with the year prior.

Salaries for construction engineers average about $40,000 per year, according to Glassdoor’s estimates, though they can reach as high as $75,000.

3. Estimating personnel

Estimating personnel prepare for construction work to be completed by gathering proposals and blueprints, as well as identifying labor, cost and time requirements.

Thirty-six percent of firm respondents told AGC they had a harder time over the past year finding qualified people to fill these spots, while 12 percent were having an equally difficult time as the prior year.

On average, a construction estimator can earn nearly $74,000 per year, with prospects for additional compensation. The salary range, according to Glassdoor, is $51,000 to $102,000.

Hourly Positions

1. Pipe layers

The largest number of firms – 72 percent – reported more difficulty finding pipe layers than any other hourly craft position over the past year.

According to data from job search website Indeed, the average hourly rate for an employee in this profession is $16.71.

The website also reported that the average tenure for a pipe layer was one to three years.

2. Sheet metal workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly pay for a sheet metal worker as of May 2017 was $25.05, while the mean annual wage was $52,100.

These employees typically install and repair equipment such as ducts, control boxes, drainpipes and furnace casings.

Over the past year, 68 percent of firms reported having more difficulty finding workers to fill these positions, according to AGC.

3. Carpenters, concrete workers

Sixty-seven percent of construction companies said it was more of a challenge finding both carpenters and concrete workers throughout the past year, when compared with the year prior.

Carpenters are one of the industries the Federal Reserve has cited as raising wages in order to combat worker shortages. As of May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the mean hourly wage for workers in the industry as $23.86.

Meanwhile, concrete workers earn anywhere between $7.25 per hour to $37.40 per hour, according to Indeed, with the majority earning somewhere around $16.42.