A career in construction can offer women the chance to break new ground; while the percentage of women employed in construction trades has been increasing slowly, the National Women's Law Center reports that women still accounted for only 6.9 percent of all construction workers in 2012. Women entering construction can also expect a decent salary in some jobs.
General construction laborers perform a variety of functions at construction sites, from hauling materials and directing traffic to operating power tools. Of course, they also tend to be the lowest-paid workers in construction. As of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that construction laborers earned an average annual wage of $34,490. By state, average salaries ranged from a low of $24,480 in Arkansas to a high of $51,500 in Hawaii. New York workers earned the highest average salary in the continental United States, $49,350.
Construction Equipment Operators
Construction equipment operators, also called operating engineers, drive construction vehicles such as bulldozers, graders and excavators. As of 2012, they reported an average salary of $46,270 a year. Hawaii once again reported the highest average salary in the nation, $68,120 per year, and New York again had the highest reported average salary in the continental U.S., $66,080 per year. The lowest average salary, $32,810, was again reported in Arkansas.
Supervisors manage day-to-day operations in construction. They often work for years as laborers or equipment operators before gaining the experience to advance to a supervisory position. As of 2012, construction supervisors earned an average salary of $63,230. Supervisors in Alaska earned the most, an average of $81,970, followed by Hawaii at $76,610 and New York at $76,250. Supervisors in Arkansas earned the least, $48,860.
Construction managers oversee the larger aspects of construction projects, making sure work is completed on time and within budget. It typically takes several years of construction experience to move into a management position, and in many cases requires formal education in construction management. But the job certainly pays well; as of 2012, construction managers earned an average of $90,960 per year, with pay by state ranging from a low of $70,120 in Oklahoma to a high of $124,020 in New Jersey.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Construction Laborers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Construction Managers
- National Women's Law Center: Women in Construction -- 6.9 Percent is Not Enough