The Best States for Subcontractors in 2021

Rose Morrison imageRose Morrison  •  

#25560 Top states for subs

2020 was an unusual year for the construction industry, to say the least. Now that more projects are opening and the sector is starting to recover, some long-standing industry trends are changing. As a subcontractor, these changes could impact your work.

After a year like 2020, you probably want to know where you can see the most success in 2021. New construction hotspots are emerging while other, old industry centers are declining. You can take advantage of that this year by finding work where it’s most rewarding.

With that in mind, here are the top states for subcontractor jobs in 2021.


California’s size and rapid expansion makes it the ideal place for the construction industry. As of 2019, the state had both the largest number and greatest value of projects. It hasn’t lost as many opportunities as some other states amid the pandemic, either.

Subcontractors in renewable energy will do particularly well in California in 2021. The state has long been at the forefront of sustainable tech adoption, and this trend will likely keep rising. If you install or maintain solar panels, wind turbines, or other renewables, you could find many job opportunities.

As renewable energy subcontractors become more in-demand, you’ll likely see higher wages, too. California does have a high cost of living, but increased pay and an abundance of job opportunities can make up for that.


Illinois is another state that has long fostered construction project growth. Like California, the pandemic didn’t hit its construction industry as hard as it did other states. Wages and employment for subcontractors remain comparatively high, especially for roofers.

Roofers in Illinois earned an annual mean wage of $60,070 in 2020, making them some of the best-paid in the nation. The Land of Lincoln also falls on the high end of the scale when it comes to work for roofers. The Chicago area, in particular, boasts some of the highest employment levels in the country.

While Illinois’s population isn’t growing as quickly as other states, frequent storms and unpredictable weather create plenty of opportunities for roofers. Union-friendly cultures throughout the state could help ensure you get fair compensation for your work, too.


Washington may not be a historic hotbed for construction work, but that’s starting to change. The state’s economy and population have grown steadily over the past few years, creating new opportunities. While COVID-19 had a profound impact on Washington’s economy, its construction sector has remained comparatively secure.

Cement masons top of the list of subcontractors who’ll do particularly well here. Washington is the fourth best-paying state for these workers, offering an average annual salary of $66,270. Seattle likewise stands as the fourth highest-paying city for cement masons, with wages as high as $75,020.

The rising population means the state will need more buildings, requiring more cement masons. Pockets within Washington have emerged as blossoming tech centers. That could mean considerable economic and population growth in the future, providing more opportunities for subcontractors.


Florida is an excellent state for construction due to frequent hurricanes and other storms raising the need for maintenance and rebuilding. Unlike some other states, the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed its status as a hotbed for the industry. The demand for construction workers remains high, especially for HVAC technicians and installers.

Florida employs more HVAC workers than any other state, with more than 31,000 working there in 2019. It also boasts the highest number of expected new HVAC openings, potentially adding thousands of jobs by 2028. Given the area’s high temperatures, humidity and frequent storms, you should anticipate that trend to continue.

People will always want functional air conditioning systems in the subtropics, so HVAC workers will always be in demand. Even if the installation of new units slows, the state will still need workers to maintain current systems.


When you think of construction hotspots, Maine probably doesn’t come to mind immediately. While the state is small and not growing as fast as some others, it’s shown promising signs recently. Maine is one of the few states that added construction jobs amid the pandemic, seeing 1,400 new openings emerge in 2020.

Maine’s economy is particularly friendly toward low voltage contractors. People in Maine value their safety, as the state boasts the lowest violent crime rate in the nation. This trend could mean more work for those who install and maintain security systems.

From CCTV systems to automated garage doors, which offer the best security, these systems require a lot of low voltage work. New homes or offices in Maine will likely want these features to keep crime rates low. As a result, there will be plenty of work for low voltage contractors.

New York

New York’s high population and bustling economy have made it a booming construction center for years. The only reason it comes last in this list is that its construction industry saw considerable losses in 2020. However, there are still many openings and opportunities for subcontractors in the state.

Electricians in New York earn an average of $79,480 a year, second only to Washington, D.C. The state’s high population creates a lot of openings, too. You can expect these to grow since much of life and business today relies on electrical systems working correctly.

As areas like New York City add more connected infrastructure, electricians will become even more in-demand. The cost of living here can be high, but if you find enough work at the state’s average pay, that shouldn’t be an issue.

Find work whatever your specialty

No matter your specific field of expertise, you can find an area with competitive pay and high demand. The past year may have been hard on the construction industry, but some states still show positive growth. 2021 may be the ideal time to find a new area to work in for any subcontractor.

Periods of change can be disruptive but positive at the same time. New opportunities are arising across the country for all types of subcontractors. Look through the best areas for your field and take advantage of these trends.

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