What is the average salary for a general contractor?

Maddy Osman imageMaddy Osman  •  

#25417 GC salary

Before we get into the specifics of a general contractor salary, let’s talk first about the role of a general contractor. Also known as a building manager, a general contractors main job is to oversee the entire project and day-to-day operations.

Key responsibilities of a general contractor include:

  • Applying for building permits
  • Providing materials and equipment
  • Overseeing subcontractors
  • Managing client communications

A general contractor often manages multiple projects for different clients at once, and therefore tends to earn a higher salary. So what is the average general contractor salary?

Average general contractor salary

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a general contractor in the United States is $71,825 per year. Broken down further, this translates to an hourly wage of roughly $36. The total pay for a general contractor per year ranges from $45k to $134k.

There are many factors that influence your salary as a general contractor, in particular, the local economy or region you live in. For example, general contractors in the Northeast region of the United States typically earn higher salaries. Keep in mind that it’s important to consider the cost of living in your area when comparing general contractor salaries across different regions.

Finally, the scale and complexity of your projects can also affect your salary. Large commercial projects that require you to manage more resources and teams usually pay more than smaller home renovation projects.

Comparing a general contractor salary to other construction careers

Specialized roles in construction services typically have lower average salaries, but they also have fewer management responsibilities. Here’s how the average general contractor salary compares to other roles.

Plumber vs. General contractor salary

Plumbers repair and install pipes responsible for water and gas delivery in residential and commercial buildings. To become a plumber, you need a high school diploma or GED, a state plumbing license, and usually an apprenticeship under a master plumber. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for plumbers is $53,910 annually or $25.92 hourly. On the higher end of the scale, the top 10% of plumbers make over $90,000 per year.

Electrician vs. General contractor salary

Electricians design, install, and maintain electrical systems for all types of buildings. Similar to plumbers, electricians with more experience and certifications can earn higher salaries. To pursue a career as an electrician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED and an apprenticeship to earn your journeyman license. The BLS reports the median electrician salary as $56,180 per year or $27.01 per hour. The top-earning electricians can make over $96,580 per year or $46.43 per hour.

Construction project manager vs. General contractor salary

Construction project managers, or construction managers, collaborate with project owners from the beginning of a project. Typically, they are brought in for large commercial projects. Unlike general contractors, construction managers have a collaborative relationship with the project owner, and they partake in the pre-construction design phase of projects. When the project begins, construction managers oversee the work done by subcontractors.

In addition to relevant work experience, most employers require construction managers to have a bachelor’s degree. Common degrees include engineering, construction management, and construction science. Certification is not required to work as a construction manager, but it’s generally helpful. According to the BLS, construction managers earn $93,370 per year or $44.89 per hour on average. The highest-earning construction managers earn upwards of $161,510 per year or $77.65 per hour.

For more information on general contractor salaries, check out this blog post on the best states for construction management jobs in the United States.

Maddy Osman is a Contributor at Hourly. Hourly is a people platform that helps small businesses save time and money by seamlessly connecting the dots between workers’ compensation insurance, time cards and payroll.

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