How Much Do Contractors Make in a Year?

Evelyn Long

Oct 5, 2020


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Skilled contractors are some of the most in-demand professionals in several different sectors. How much do contractors make, and how can you bolster your career. The amounts might surprise you, and the fact that you can grow in this career path can make it even more lucrative.

Here are come of the most popular contractor specialties and their average salaries:

General contractors$91,370 per year
Carpenters: $45,170 per year
Electricians: $54,110 per year
Plumbers/pipefitters: $54,810 per year
Brick/stonemasons: $50,860 per year
Sheet metal workers$49,350 per year
Iron/steelworkers: $54,730 per year
Boilermakers: $64,480 per year
Elevator installer: $78,990 per year
Construction laborers: $36,580 per year

Even laborers, often considered the bottom rung on the contracting ladder, make an average of $36,580 a year. That’s fairly impressive for oft-maligned blue-collar fields that never get a fair shake during high school career day. For many, this may be sufficient — but if you are interested in building your career, you don’t have to stop there.

Building Your Contracting Career

Building a career as a contractor isn’t always easy, but you don’t have to content yourself working for someone else or staying in the same position until retirement. There are plenty of ways for you to turn your job trajectory into something you’re happy to include in your resume. 

1. Go Back to School

One suggestion is to go back to school. Construction is an easy field to get into without any experience or education, but you don’t need to learn everything on the job. Studies show that, on average, a college graduate will earn more than $1 million more throughout their life than those who don’t further their education. 

You don’t necessarily need to get a construction-related degree. Other valuable programs might include business administration, marketing and economics, just to name a few. 

2. Start Your Own Business

Stop working for other people and start your own business. If you’ve ever wanted to be the one setting the payscales and doling out the bonuses, consider operating a company. This might not seem like the most lucrative option while you’re starting out, but once you get it off the ground, contracting businesses can earn between $100,000 and $1 million or more a year. 

This is where that business degree could come in handy, allowing you to take a more hands-on approach to build the company rather than delegating that responsibility to employees you hire. 

3. Learn a Specialization

Construction laborers can earn nearly $37,000 a year, but you’re probably working as a jack-of-all-trades. You’ll fill whatever position they stick you in, learning just enough to complete your assigned tasks. If you want to improve your career, why not learn a specialization? 

Working for a contractor gives you unparalleled opportunities for networking. Find someone in a field you’re interested in and see if they’re taking on apprentices. You might not make as much during an apprenticeship, but it can give you the tools you’ll need to become a specialized contractor in the future. 

Making Money as a Contractor

Contractors have long been one of the most in-demand professionals in the construction industry. If you’re looking to start your career or shift its path, there has never been a better time to make your way into this sector. It’s a hands-on career path, but it’s one that is incredibly rewarding and provides nearly limitless opportunities for growth and expansion.

Take a closer look at your current career path and see if becoming a contractor might be the next logical step. 

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