High-Paying Jobs in Construction That Require a High School Diploma

By Indeed Editorial Team

March 10, 2021

Construction and trade industries are important to the overall infrastructure in communities and many construction roles have high income potential. If you're interested in entering a career straight out of high school, without pursuing a college degree or vocational certificate, the construction and trade industries offer plenty of opportunities that will offer employment without any higher education. Many roles in these industries will give you the benefit of learning on the job, developing your skills and advancing to higher salary levels. In this article, we'll explore 16 high-paying jobs in construction that you can get into with just your high school diploma.

Related: What Are the Different Types of Construction Jobs?

What types of high-paying jobs in construction require only a high school diploma?

Most entry-level and labor jobs in construction don't have an educational requirement to start working. However, many of these roles start at a lower income level and it will take years of on-the-job experience to advance into high-paying positions, and some may indeed require additional training, formal education or apprenticeships.

This means it is possible to enter your field and advance through work experience or apprenticeship training, with some of the higher paying career paths in this field being:

  • Drywall installation and repair

  • Commercial and residential painting

  • Carpentry and masonry

  • Roofing installation, repair and maintenance

  • Heavy equipment and machine operation

  • Construction trucking and transport

  • Construction management and supervising

  • Metalwork, fabrication and welding

  • Commercial and residential insulating

Related: 12 Jobs in Construction That Pay Well

Top construction jobs that you can get with a high school diploma

The following list includes high-paying jobs in construction that you can get with a minimum of a high school diploma. Additionally, many of these roles require you to advance into with on-the-job training and work experience. For the most up-to-date salary information, follow the salary links back to Indeed Salaries.

1. Drywall finisher

National average salary: $37,692 per year

Primary duties: Drywall finishers measure, cut and fit drywall paneling in commercial and residential buildings. These trade professionals work in construction settings where they install and finish drywall panels around structures, including mechanical, building and decorative structures. Drywall finishers typically start as drywall hangers in apprenticeship and entry-level roles and advance in their careers to higher earning positions.

2. Mason

National average salary: $37,734 per year

Primary duties: Masons work with concrete and cement, bricks and natural stone to build structures like walkways, walls, borders, chimneys and fencing. Masons typically specialize in an area of masonry, with jobs like brick masons, stonemasons and block masons. Entry-level roles in masonry usually only require a high school diploma to start, and many masons gain on-the-job experience through apprenticeship and advance in their careers.

3. Insulator

National average salary: $40,330 per year

Primary duties: Insulators install and replace the materials in structural insulation, including the materials that insulate mechanical systems and buildings. These trade professionals typically remove old insulation and install new materials to fit into walls and building joints and around piping and electrical wiring. Insulators only need a high school diploma to enter the role and can increase their earning potential by developing their skills and building experience on the job.

4. Metalworker

National average salary: $41,830 per year

Primary duties: Metalworkers repair, fabricate, assemble and install metal products, including sheet metal and metal elements and materials. They complete a wide variety of projects that contain metal components, including the sheet metal products construction projects require. Metalworkers can find employment opportunities across a range of trades, including in HVAC, roofing and welding. Metalworkers can start in entry-level apprenticeships and advance to higher-paying jobs and can even choose to be self-employed.

Related: Learn About Being a Welder

5. Roofer

National average salary: $45,180 per year

Primary duties: A roofer, or roofing contractor, works specifically in roof construction. These trade professionals install, replace and repair the roofs on buildings and structures and use materials like metal, bitumen, coal tar and roofing shingles to perform a variety of roofing projects, from simple shingle repairs to entire facility roofing systems. Roofers can start the job with a high school diploma and build several years of experience to advance to management roles in their career.

6. Painting contractor

National average salary: $46,370 per year

Primary duties: Painting contractors and residential and commercial painters apply paint to the interiors and exteriors of buildings. The size of the project a painter works on can vary, from single-family residential homes to large corporate buildings. Professional painters are skilled in assisting customers with selecting appropriate paint materials, mixing colors and prepping the area for painting. Painters will also fill and seal holes and corners, remove old paint and prep walls and baseboards for painting.

Related: Learn About Being a Painter

7. Equipment operator

National average salary: $47,657 per year

Primary duties: Equipment operators work with heavy equipment and machines, driving and operating construction equipment like forklifts, backhoes, bulldozers, dump trucks and hydraulic truck cranes. They use and operate this type of equipment to support construction projects like buildings, roads, bridges and other structures. Prospective equipment operators need a high school diploma and may need special commercial licensing to drive various machines and vehicles.

Related: Learn About Being a Machine Operator

8. Crane operator

National average salary: $48,394 per year

Primary duties: Crane operators use advanced machinery to move, load and unload heavy equipment and materials from place to place and off of trailers and transport vehicles. Cranes are necessary to lift materials and construction equipment that is too heavy to move with other equipment or in difficult areas to get to. Crane operators typically learn how to use these machines while on the job, building enough experience to fill roles like lead crane operator and even management roles.

Related: Learn About Being a Crane Operator

9. Ironworker

National average salary: $49,331 per year

Primary duties: An ironworker is responsible for installing and reinforcing structural iron and steel that supports and forms structures like roadways, buildings and bridges. Ironworkers generally rely on blueprints and other instructional documents to plan and install iron and steel products and materials in structural design and construction projects. They also use specialized tools for ironwork, including metal shears, torches, welders and rod-bending machines to connect and install metal products.

10. Carpenter

National average salary: $53,253 per year

Primary duties: Carpenters install, construct and repair frameworks and building structures. The materials that carpenters usually work with include wood, plastics and other materials, which carpenters measure, cut, shape and install for various building applications like molding, windows, door frames and other fixtures. Carpenters also inspect, repair and replace any framework that's damaged and may take on some supervisory responsibilities when working with other construction laborers.

Related: Learn About Being a Carpenter

11. Construction foreman

National average salary: $53,630 per year

Primary duties: A construction foreman oversees the training, direction and supervision of construction crews and laborers throughout building projects. Construction foremen monitor and evaluate crew members' performance, work efforts and progress and provide assistance and mentorship to help employees develop their skills on the job. Construction foremen usually advance to this role after spending some of their career as construction laborers and helpers.

Related: Learn About Being a Construction Project Manager

12. Elevator technician

National average salary: $56,761 per year

Primary duties: Elevator technicians install, repair and help maintain elevators in buildings. They may also be responsible in the construction and assembly of elevator components. Elevator technicians also frequently specialize in escalator, chairlift and similar equipment installation and service, and the job requires only a high school diploma to enter. As an entry-level elevator technician, you would work in an apprenticeship to build your experience, knowledge and skills.

13. Glazier

National average salary: $59,209 per year

Primary duties: A glazier is a professional who works with various glass products, from insulated glass panels in windows to tempered glass in bank tellers and other buildings. In residential environments, a glazier installs and replaces glass products, including mirrors, windows and bathtub and shower enclosures. Glaziers typically build experience through an apprenticeship and can work for private companies or as independent contractors.

Related: What Is a Glazier? Job Description, Salary and Requirements

14. Construction supervisor

National average salary: $60,676 per year

Primary duties: Construction supervisors are responsible for overseeing entire worksites and the construction activities that take place on them. They plan, organize and direct construction projects and supervise the contractors and crews that perform the labor. Construction supervisors are also responsible for maintaining and ensuring safe work environments. To become a construction supervisor, you'll need to gain work experience as a construction laborer and advance into management roles. However, all you need is your high school diploma to get started.

Related: Learn About Being a Construction Manager

15. Boilermaker

National average salary: $65,367 per year

Primary duties: A boilermaker works specifically with boilers and large vessels that hold liquids or gases. They assemble, install, repair and maintain closed vats, boilers and other large containers by reading blueprints and measuring the dimensions of boiler components, assembling boiler and boiler parts and inspecting systems for defects, leaks or other hazards. Boilermakers may use tools like welding equipment and gas torches to repair or replace broken pipes, valves or other parts of boilers. Typically, an apprenticeship is necessary before becoming a licensed boilermaker.

16. Construction superintendent

National average salary: $80,556 per year

Primary duties: A construction superintendent is responsible for monitoring and directing construction projects from the planning phase to project completion. They schedule, budget and oversee entire construction projects and ensure construction managers, crew members and other staff comply with safety standards and protocols while on the job site. Construction superintendents need extensive experience in the construction industry, which they typically receive from working in entry-level roles and advancing into higher-level positions.

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