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What You Should Expect to Pay for Construction Labor and Skilled Operators

Apr 24, 2023 | Blog, Career, Hiring, Management

As a construction company owner, one of the biggest expenses you’ll incur is the cost of labor. Paying your workers and equipment operators fairly is not only important for the success of your business but also for the well-being of your employees. However, determining how much to pay your workers can be a challenging task, as several factors can affect wages.

The first factor that can affect wages is geographic location. Different regions have different costs of living and wages, which can significantly impact the amount you’ll need to pay your workers. For example, if you operate in a major city with a high cost of living, you may need to pay your workers more than if you operate in a smaller town or rural area. Similarly, wages can vary between states, so it’s essential to research wage data for your specific location.

Another factor that can impact wages is economic activity. When the economy is booming, and construction activity is high, workers may be in high demand, which can drive up wages. Conversely, during an economic downturn or recession, there may be less demand for construction services, leading to lower wages. As a construction company owner, it’s essential to stay abreast of economic trends in your area to help you set competitive wages.

Skill level is another critical factor in determining wages. Skilled workers, such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters, typically earn more than general laborers due to the specialized nature of their work. Additionally, experienced workers may demand higher wages than entry-level workers due to their level of expertise.

Equipment operators are also an essential part of construction, and their wages can vary depending on their skill level and experience. Operators who operate heavy machinery, such as excavators or bulldozers, often require specialized training, which can impact their wages. Similarly, experienced operators who have been working in the industry for years may command higher wages than those just starting.

When determining wages for your workers and equipment operators, it’s also essential to consider other factors, such as benefits and incentives. For example, offering health insurance or retirement benefits can help attract and retain employees, as can offering bonuses or profit-sharing plans.

So, how much should you expect to pay your workers and equipment operators? The answer to this question will depend on several factors, as discussed above. However, to give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve compiled some wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for selected construction occupations as of May 2020:

Construction laborers: median hourly wage of $16.87
Electricians: median hourly wage of $27.43
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters: median hourly wage of $27.31
Carpenters: median hourly wage of $25.26
Heavy equipment operators: median hourly wage of $22.48

It’s important to note that these figures are median wages and may not reflect wages in your specific location or for your specific business. Additionally, wages can vary widely depending on skill level, experience, and other factors, as discussed earlier. Know your market. If your competitors are paying higher wages, you will have a hard time attracting qualified workers.

In conclusion, determining how much to pay your workers and equipment operators can be a complex task that requires consideration of several factors. Geographic location, economic activity, skill level, and experience are all essential factors to consider when setting wages. Additionally, offering benefits and incentives can help attract and retain employees. Ultimately, the key is to research wage data for your specific location and industry and to stay competitive while ensuring that your workers are paid fairly.