What is the expected wage for a construction worker in the UK?

Construction worker wages can vary dramatically depending on your role within the sector, where you’re based, your level of experience, and of course, the agency or business you work for.

As a whole, ‘the UK has been ranked as the second-best country in the world to be a construction worker, based on average salary, the cost of living and the rate of accidents.’ 

But with construction worker shortages hitting the UK because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, it can be difficult to know if current wages are an accurate reflection of long-term wages, or if the landscape is likely to change over the next few years.

What sort of salary should construction workers be paid in the UK?

Construction workers are highly skilled, and it’s important to make sure you’re being paid your worth. But when you’re new to the industry, it can be tough to find out if your wage matches up with the UK average.

Here’s a quick breakdown of construction worker wages across the UK from Total Jobs.

What are the averages for Construction Worker wages?

  • In Wales, the average construction salary is £32,500, but the range goes from £26,406 to £42.500.
  • In central London, the average construction salary is £57,500 with a range of between £31,787 and £77,500.
  • In Belfast, the average construction salary is £52,500, with a range of £37,500 to £62,500.
  • In Manchester, the average construction salary is £47,500, with a range of between £32,500 and £57,500.

Even though these figures may give you an idea of expectations, it’s key to remember to take them with a pinch of salt. 

The statistics are each based on different sample sizes, and discrepancies among areas are common. Due to the range of roles within the construction sector, in order to get a genuine idea of an expected wage, you need to dig deeper into your local area, the specific role you are interested in, and your level of seniority.

How much does the average construction salary vary across the UK?

As with any sector, where you are in the UK will have an impact on the average salary you receive. With this in mind, unless you’re planning on uprooting to follow the money, it’s probably not worth looking at wages outside of the area you would consider travelling to for work.

For example, if you live in Cardiff, knowing the average wage of a construction worker in Manchester wouldn’t be much use.

How do hourly rates compare to wages?

For certain roles in construction, you’re more likely to be paid by the day or hour than by a yearly salary. Once again, these rates will vary depending on where you are in the UK. According to Price your Job, if you’re based in London, you can expect to earn between £30 and £80 more per day – or £2 – £5 more per hour – than if you are in the North of the UK.

Rather than looking at every trade within construction, let’s take a quick look at hourly rates for electricians:

  • The average hourly rate for an electrician in Cardiff is £25 – £45
  • The average hourly rate for an electrician in London is £32 – £55 
  • The average hourly rate for an electrician in Manchester is £30 – £50

If we look at entry level roles, Indeed suggests that the average hourly rate for construction labourers in the UK is about £12.21. On Jobted, the average hourly rate for a construction worker is estimated to be £10.30 per hour.

Remember that any figures you find online are likely to vary. Each calculation will have been based on a different number of people surveyed, who are based in different areas, and so as with the statistics above, these figures should be used as a rough guide only.

Does gender make a big difference?

It won’t shock anyone to know that construction is a male dominated industry. But does gender make as much of a difference to your pay as your trade, location, and experience level?

According to the ReBuild project, there’s ‘a 22% difference in the gender pay gap’ and ‘less than 20% of women on boards’ in construction. Generally, it’s agreed that more needs to be done within the sector to ensure that women are given fair and equal opportunities to their male counterparts.

Work needs to start from the bottom up, and children need to be encouraged to see the construction sector as a space for both men and women (but that’s another article).

Which are the best-paid construction jobs in the UK?

Commercial managers (dealing with financial aspects of construction projects), can expect to earn an average salary of about £75,000. Similarly, construction managers, who manage the construction project itself and the workers on site, can expect to earn an average wage of just under £80,000 at £78,333. Design managers, project managers, and site managers also earn excellent wages.

How does the level of experience affect construction job wages?

Understandably, the higher up the career ladder you are, the more you can expect to earn.

Management level construction workers have more responsibility for a construction project than entry level roles, and so it’s inevitable that more demanding roles require a higher salary. Jobted suggests that a construction worker well into their career can expect to earn 12% above the average construction worker wage, whereas a trainee construction worker will earn 31% less than the average.

If you’re interested in career progression, it’s good to know what salaries you have the potential to reach within construction. However, for entry level roles, it’s more important to compare roles that require a similar level of experience (in any field) than it is to compare salaries across the construction industry as a whole.

For example, the average entry level job across all sectors in Cardiff is £24,000. The average salary of a construction labourer in Cardiff is £22,992. Arguably, this would suggest that for entry level roles, construction is favourable against other industry standards.

How are construction wages and salaries changing?

Construction workers salaries are rising, and we can expect to see the increase in demand for workers (and shortages of jobs) to continue into the new year.

But when it comes to salaries, it’s important for employers to understand that workers are looking for much more than just a good basic pay.

Workers are concerned with opportunities to progress, the distance they need to travel each day, and the conditions within their workplace. It’s more important than ever before that businesses value their workers, and learn to treat them as more than just a number.

What should you be paying your workers as a construction agency?

As a construction agency, you should be keeping on top of wages within your area for each sector you cover. Providing respectable wages will encourage workers to show loyalty, complete projects, and pass your name on to friends and colleagues who are looking for work.

Underpaying your workforce is unforgivable. 

If you’re an agency struggling to keep on top of market rates, or you’re a worker who wants to know what to expect in your first pay packet, give us a call.

At Pier, our approach to forming a cohesive and reliable workforce means that we’ve already done the hard work for you.

With years of experience within the construction industry, we understand every aspect of every role. Whether you’re looking for an entry level labourer position, or you’re keen to become a managing engineer and need to know how to get there, we can help.

Get in touch today for an informal chat, our latest opportunities, or to find out about the training we offer our workers.

Get in touch today for an informal chat, our latest opportunities, or to find out about the training we offer our workers.

At Pier, we do more than put workers on site. We create a team of workers that take your project from concept to completion.

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