Highest-paying construction jobs in Durham

Written by:
February 20, 2022
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Highest-paying construction jobs in Durham

The term “recession-proof” has taken on a new and important meaning in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008, a meaning that has been renewed during the pandemic. One recession-proof industry has proven to be construction. Residential and commercial real estate, roads, bridges, power and energy, hotels—each of these sectors has weathered economic storms and proven to be dependable ways for a person to support a family.

The American Institutes of Architects’ Consensus Construction Forecast predicts that nonresidential construction will grow 4.6%, while the overall commercial construction market will see a 5.4% increase. This is against market expectations of global construction gains of 3.7%, meaning the U.S. market is expected to be ahead of the curve. Moreover, road and highway construction is expected to reach $108 billion annually by 2024.

Aside from ongoing supply chain woes that have caused delays in materials delivery, one source of concern in construction is workforce shortages. Analysis from Deloitte says that labor shortages are the result of a lack of qualified candidates and a skills gap between generations in an industry growing more technologically savvy by the year.

But this does not mean there are no jobs out there—to the contrary, there are a great number of construction jobs out there, and many of them are high-paying and offer career opportunities. To that end, Stacker compiled a list of the highest paying jobs in construction in Durham using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs are ranked based on annual pay as of May 2020. Job descriptions are from O*NET.

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#22. Helpers--carpenters

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $31,970
- #81 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: data not available

National
- Annual mean salary: $35,360
- Employment: 30,900
- Entry level education requirements: No formal educational credential
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Salem, OR ($64,070)
--- New Bedford, MA ($45,720)
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($44,900)
- Job description: Help carpenters by performing duties requiring less skill. Duties include using, supplying, or holding materials or tools, and cleaning work area and equipment.
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Andrey_Popov // Shutterstock

#21. Helpers--pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $32,310
- #88 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 90

National
- Annual mean salary: $34,990
- Employment: 55,740
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($62,520)
--- Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI ($51,590)
--- Anchorage, AK ($45,980)
- Job description: Help plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, or pipelayers by performing duties requiring less skill. Duties include using, supplying, or holding materials or tools, and cleaning work area and equipment.
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John Leung // Shutterstock

#20. Brickmasons and blockmasons

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $32,470
- #192 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: data not available

National
- Annual mean salary: $58,420
- Employment: 59,940
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Duluth, MN-WI ($90,610)
--- Providence-Warwick, RI-MA ($90,290)
--- Pittsfield, MA ($90,070)
- Job description: Lay and bind building materials, such as brick, structural tile, concrete block, cinder block, glass block, and terra-cotta block, with mortar and other substances, to construct or repair walls, partitions, arches, sewers, and other structures.
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Pixabay

#19. Construction laborers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $32,590
- #322 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 730

National
- Annual mean salary: $43,000
- Employment: 971,330
- Entry level education requirements: No formal educational credential
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI ($66,670)
--- Kankakee, IL ($65,730)
--- Urban Honolulu, HI ($63,860)
- Job description: Perform tasks involving physical labor at construction sites. May operate hand and power tools of all types: air hammers, earth tampers, cement mixers, small mechanical hoists, surveying and measuring equipment, and a variety of other equipment and instruments. May clean and prepare sites, dig trenches, set braces to support the sides of excavations, erect scaffolding, and clean up rubble, debris, and other waste materials. May assist other craft workers.
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#18. Painters, construction and maintenance

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $34,640
- #302 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 180

National
- Annual mean salary: $46,460
- Employment: 217,880
- Entry level education requirements: No formal educational credential
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($69,360)
--- Salinas, CA ($64,630)
--- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($63,070)
- Job description: Paint walls, equipment, buildings, bridges, and other structural surfaces, using brushes, rollers, and spray guns. May remove old paint to prepare surface prior to painting. May mix colors or oils to obtain desired color or consistency.

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#17. Pipelayers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $34,730
- #113 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 70

National
- Annual mean salary: $45,060
- Employment: 33,950
- Entry level education requirements: No formal educational credential
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI ($77,880)
--- Eugene, OR ($76,240)
--- Worcester, MA-CT ($72,600)
- Job description: Lay pipe for storm or sanitation sewers, drains, and water mains. Perform any combination of the following tasks: grade trenches or culverts, position pipe, or seal joints.
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Pixabay

#16. Helpers--electricians

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $35,690
- #51 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 400

National
- Annual mean salary: $35,440
- Employment: 73,920
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Cedar Rapids, IA ($55,070)
--- New Orleans-Metairie, LA ($53,920)
--- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA ($52,310)
- Job description: Help electricians by performing duties requiring less skill. Duties include using, supplying, or holding materials or tools, and cleaning work area and equipment.
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#15. Drywall and ceiling tile installers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $36,420
- #159 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 40

National
- Annual mean salary: $51,930
- Employment: 99,700
- Entry level education requirements: No formal educational credential
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI ($90,640)
--- Bellingham, WA ($78,580)
--- Urban Honolulu, HI ($78,170)
- Job description: Apply plasterboard or other wallboard to ceilings or interior walls of buildings. Apply or mount acoustical tiles or blocks, strips, or sheets of shock-absorbing materials to ceilings and walls of buildings to reduce or reflect sound. Materials may be of decorative quality. Includes lathers who fasten wooden, metal, or rockboard lath to walls, ceilings, or partitions of buildings to provide support base for plaster, fireproofing, or acoustical material.
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#14. Cement masons and concrete finishers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $38,040
- #273 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: data not available

National
- Annual mean salary: $49,390
- Employment: 195,580
- Entry level education requirements: No formal educational credential
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Urban Honolulu, HI ($86,370)
--- Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI ($81,730)
--- Rockford, IL ($78,320)
- Job description: Smooth and finish surfaces of poured concrete, such as floors, walks, sidewalks, roads, or curbs using a variety of hand and power tools. Align forms for sidewalks, curbs, or gutters; patch voids; and use saws to cut expansion joints.
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Philip Lange // Shutterstock

#13. Highway maintenance workers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $38,250
- #214 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 130

National
- Annual mean salary: $43,200
- Employment: 149,890
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($72,040)
--- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($66,270)
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($65,290)
- Job description: Maintain highways, municipal and rural roads, airport runways, and rights-of-way. Duties include patching broken or eroded pavement and repairing guard rails, highway markers, and snow fences. May also mow or clear brush from along road, or plow snow from roadway.

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#12. Roofers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $39,340
- #176 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 30

National
- Annual mean salary: $47,010
- Employment: 128,680
- Entry level education requirements: No formal educational credential
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Worcester, MA-CT ($82,700)
--- Santa Rosa, CA ($71,520)
--- Trenton, NJ ($71,260)
- Job description: Cover roofs of structures with shingles, slate, asphalt, aluminum, wood, or related materials. May spray roofs, sidings, and walls with material to bind, seal, insulate, or soundproof sections of structures.
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Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

#11. Carpenters

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $40,930
- #298 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 960

National
- Annual mean salary: $54,200
- Employment: 699,300
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Urban Honolulu, HI ($82,950)
--- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($82,300)
--- Hanford-Corcoran, CA ($79,870)
- Job description: Construct, erect, install, or repair structures and fixtures made of wood and comparable materials, such as concrete forms; building frameworks, including partitions, joists, studding, and rafters; and wood stairways, window and door frames, and hardwood floors. May also install cabinets, siding, drywall, and batt or roll insulation. Includes brattice builders who build doors or brattices (ventilation walls or partitions) in underground passageways.
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#10. Excavating and loading machine and dragline operators, surface mining

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $40,950
- #109 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 80

National
- Annual mean salary: $48,500
- Employment: 40,240
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($106,100)
--- Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV ($84,840)
--- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($78,360)
- Job description: Operate or tend machinery at surface mining site, equipped with scoops, shovels, or buckets to excavate and load loose materials.
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#9. Structural iron and steel workers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $41,710
- #143 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 140

National
- Annual mean salary: $58,650
- Employment: 71,490
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Trenton, NJ ($91,360)
--- Rockford, IL ($90,160)
--- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA ($89,740)
- Job description: Raise, place, and unite iron or steel girders, columns, and other structural members to form completed structures or structural frameworks. May erect metal storage tanks and assemble prefabricated metal buildings.
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anatoliy_gleb // Shutterstock

#8. Solar photovoltaic installers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $42,860
- #23 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: data not available

National
- Annual mean salary: $48,020
- Employment: 11,490
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA ($74,830)
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($60,970)
--- Urban Honolulu, HI ($60,140)
- Job description: Assemble, install, or maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on roofs or other structures in compliance with site assessment and schematics. May include measuring, cutting, assembling, and bolting structural framing and solar modules. May perform minor electrical work such as current checks.

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#7. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $43,320
- #274 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 730

National
- Annual mean salary: $55,280
- Employment: 402,870
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA ($96,440)
--- Barnstable Town, MA ($93,620)
--- Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA ($93,320)
- Job description: Operate one or several types of power construction equipment, such as motor graders, bulldozers, scrapers, compressors, pumps, derricks, shovels, tractors, or front-end loaders to excavate, move, and grade earth, erect structures, or pour concrete or other hard surface pavement. May repair and maintain equipment in addition to other duties.
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Vera Larina // Shutterstock

#6. Sheet metal workers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $47,360
- #166 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 220

National
- Annual mean salary: $55,320
- Employment: 128,220
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Fairbanks, AK ($132,900)
--- Kankakee, IL ($91,140)
--- Olympia-Tumwater, WA ($87,030)
- Job description: Fabricate, assemble, install, and repair sheet metal products and equipment, such as ducts, control boxes, drainpipes, and furnace casings. Work may involve any of the following: setting up and operating fabricating machines to cut, bend, and straighten sheet metal; shaping metal over anvils, blocks, or forms using hammer; operating soldering and welding equipment to join sheet metal parts; or inspecting, assembling, and smoothing seams and joints of burred surfaces. Includes sheet metal duct installers who install prefabricated sheet metal ducts used for heating, air conditioning, or other purposes.
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Canva

#5. Glaziers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $47,540
- #69 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: data not available

National
- Annual mean salary: $50,970
- Employment: 52,190
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- Olympia-Tumwater, WA ($89,250)
--- Salem, OR ($85,640)
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($81,240)
- Job description: Install glass in windows, skylights, store fronts, and display cases, or on surfaces, such as building fronts, interior walls, ceilings, and tabletops.
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Andrey_Popov // Shutterstock

#4. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $48,720
- #259 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 390

National
- Annual mean salary: $61,100
- Employment: 417,440
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($106,100)
--- Fairbanks, AK ($94,280)
--- Kankakee, IL ($93,420)
- Job description: Assemble, install, alter, and repair pipelines or pipe systems that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases. May install heating and cooling equipment and mechanical control systems. Includes sprinkler fitters.
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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#3. Electricians

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $51,980
- #236 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 930

National
- Annual mean salary: $61,550
- Employment: 656,510
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($106,680)
--- Trenton, NJ ($90,210)
--- Kankakee, IL ($88,530)
- Job description: Install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures. Ensure that work is in accordance with relevant codes. May install or service street lights, intercom systems, or electrical control systems.
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Canva

#2. Construction and building inspectors

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $58,360
- #169 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 160

National
- Annual mean salary: $66,470
- Employment: 113,770
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($103,820)
--- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($102,920)
--- Salinas, CA ($98,360)
- Job description: Inspect structures using engineering skills to determine structural soundness and compliance with specifications, building codes, and other regulations. Inspections may be general in nature or may be limited to a specific area, such as electrical systems or plumbing.
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sculpies // Shutterstock

#1. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
- Annual mean salary: $62,330
- #281 highest pay among all metros
- Employment: 1,360

National
- Annual mean salary: $72,990
- Employment: 614,080
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
- Metros with highest average pay:
--- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($107,870)
--- Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA ($103,930)
--- Santa Rosa, CA ($100,620)
- Job description: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of construction or extraction workers.

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