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What are the highest paying jobs in construction?


Introduction to high paying construction jobs

If you’re interested in making the most of your earning potential in construction, this article is for you. When you mention construction jobs, most people think of swinging hammers and building houses.

Those are good jobs, but did you know that there are construction jobs where you can earn six figures before you turn twenty-five? It’s true. These jobs are in industrial construction, and they’re called per diem construction jobs.

If you haven’t heard of per diem construction, keep reading because the money you could earn may surprise you and this may be a very valuable article for your career.


What are the highest paying jobs in construction?

The jobs that earn the highest pay are called per diem construction jobs. These are jobs are most often in industrial construction and its where people are making the big bucks. These jobs tend to be on industrial projects, for example power plants, refineries, steel mills, manufacturing plants, food and Beveridge plants, paper mills, etc.

Per diem construction jobs will earn you money well above the pay averages quoted in most industry data. The pay rates typically quoted in these articles are for typical construction jobs that pay low hourly rates, do not work a lot of overtime, and do not pay per diem. None of this is true for pre diem construction jobs and that’s why they are some of the highest paying jobs in the construction industry.

We know this because we see it all the time. People who chose to travel as a construction worker can earn well into six figures. Some people make multiple six figure incomes. People are doing it all the time and those jobs are out there today. Go ahead and look for yourself, you can find many of them on our site, right now.


What are per diem construction jobs?

Per diem construction jobs are construction jobs that people travel to get to. These are not local jobs. Most of the time these jobs require people to travel several states away. Because of the requirement to travel, people working on these construction projects are paid per diem to help cover their expenses. This per diem payment, which is typically not taxed by the government, are why these jobs are called per diem construction jobs.

Per diem construction jobs are not a standard job – even by construction standards. These jobs are not typically the full-time jobs that most people think of. Per diem construction jobs are project based. There is a definite beginning and end to the project. This means the jobs exist because of a project that a construction company has taken on, and most people will be laid off when that project is over. The company will hire the skills and trades they need to complete the project and then lay off most people when the job is over.  

At the end of the job, sometimes the company will ask you to move on to another project they have. Most of the time they will not. Often at the end of the job, most people are laid off and either go take some time off or find the next job somewhere else and keep working.

The draw is that per diem construction jobs pay the highest hourly rates in the industry, work the most overtime and pay an addition living expense each week call per diem. The pay checks can get to $5,000 per week or higher and can put you in a position to save money to make through any slow periods.

Which brings up another of travel construction – down time! You will most likely make enough money to take several weeks off each year. You will have more free time, schedule more fishing trips and spend more time with the people you want to on these times when you are not working and between projects. You can work a side hustle, travel, hunt, do whatever you want. You earned that freedom and should have the money to enjoy it.

The reason these types of jobs are attractive is they pay very well. These jobs are some of the highest paying in all of construction. People who build a career with traveling construction jobs can make a lot of money over their career.

This article discusses both the positives and negatives associated with these types of per diem jobs. There are lots of each. The hire-work-layoff cycle means there is inherently insecurity in this life, especially early in your career.


How do I find my next per diem job?

Working in the traveling construction industry, you’ll learn to get good at building a network of people to rely on and to search for the next job on a routine basis. Luckily there are tools that you can use to make job search easier both industry job boards and Facebook groups. You will also build your network as you meet people and build your reputation. These relationships will help you find the next traveling construction job too.

We talked in an earlier article about how to get a job in construction with no experience. If you do not have any experience, we encourage you to read that article. It’ll give you an overview of the industry and types of construction projects.

Traveling construction jobs are in every corner of the country. The highest concentration of these projects is the gulf coast of the United States. A large portion of the United States’ oil and gas infrastructure (refineries, pipelines, LNG facilities) are location in and around the gulf coast.

Many industrial construction companies are located around Houston and this area is a good place to be to talk to the companies.

One of best ways to search for traveling construction jobs is to look for jobs that pay per diem. You can search for a trade that you are looking for and then the words per diem. Here is an example job search for per diem construction jobs. This list will give you an idea of some traveling construction jobs.

You will see from the list that traveling construction jobs can be found in most states across the country. You can also get a good idea of the trades that companies are hiring for these jobs, which can help you identify the trades that you will want to pursue in the future.


Why do traveling construction jobs pay more?

Per diem construction jobs pay more for a couple reasons. First, it is hard to find people who want to travel for work. Most people like the comfort and familiarity of their own bed every night. Most people aren’t interested in going to new place or meeting new people. To get people to agree to travel, these jobs must pay a higher rate. Since industrial construction projects tend to be large, the companies have a lot to lose and they need to find the right people to come work on their jobs. This means it’s in the best interest of the construction companies to pay higher wages.

Second, the work takes skill. You can break into the per diem construction world without really having a skilled trade. However, if you want to make yourself valuable and earn the big paychecks, learning a skilled trade is critical. Below we review the skilled trades that are most valuable in per diem construction jobs.


What can I expect from a career in traveling construction?

You can expect hard work, sacrifice, and big checks. Some people make over a $250,000 a year working per diem construction jobs. And most of these people never went to college! The highest earning people are those who have risen through the ranks and are responsible for overseeing projects – but they all started where you are, which is trying to figure out how to even get into the business.

With a career in per diem construction, you can build a long career, travel the country or world, and make a lot of money in the process. As we’ve said, this path is not easy and per diem construction is not for everybody.

You will need to learn a trade, be willing to work hard, be willing to travel and to work long hours. You will need to be ready to make some sacrifices.

You may spend time in remote parts of the country, or even the world. You will meet lots of people and see all kinds of places, projects, and situations that most people never get a chance to see.

Yet for the people willing to do these things, the earnings potential is massive. For the right person, per diem construction is the perfect way to build a great career and an interesting life.


How do I maximize my earnings in per diem construction?

The highest paying per diem construction jobs maximize the following criteria. Each of these is important and together they can add up quickly.

  • Pay Rate. Different skilled trades in different industries command different pay rates. For traveling industrial construction jobs, the trades are typically paid higher rates than for local residential or commercial construction. Always look for the jobs that are paying the highest wage.
  • Per Diem. This is a daily or weekly stipend for living expenses on per diem construction jobs. Per diem is typically not taxed by the government and is paid each week in a separate check. Pay attention to how many days per week the jobs are paying per diem. Some jobs will pay per diem just for the number of days worked (for example, 5) and some will pay per diem seven days a week. This can make a big difference in your check.
  • The more hours per week you are working the bigger your paycheck will be. Industrial construction projects can work lots of overtime. Some jobs will work six or even seven days a week. The jobs can work ten or twelve hours a day. Those hours can be tough, but they can really ad up each week.
  • Project Duration. How long is the project you are on? Longer jobs will allow you to maximize your earnings. Sometimes it makes sense to take a slightly lower pay rate to get involved with a longer-term project that gives you certainty. Another way to look at this is to find several smaller jobs that you can work back-to-back and get the equivalent of a long-term duration project.
  • Travel Pay. To further entice people to come work on projects, some companies will pay for travel time. This means each person traveling to a job will get paid either a lump sum amount of money, mileage reimbursement, or an hourly rate to travel.
  • Completion Bonus. Completion bonuses are paid at the end of a project for people who work the entire job until they are laid off. It is meant to encourage the workforce to not quit on the project.


What trades work in per diem construction?

There are several trades and skills that can earn you top pay on projects that are paying per diem. These trades include per diem welders, per diem pipefitters, per diem millwrights and per diem electricians. Some of the highest paying trades can earn between $30 and $40 per hour or higher. Industrial construction projects are full of large equipment, piping, steel, and concrete. There is very little (if any) wood involved, so the image many people have of a carpenter swinging a hammer doesn’t apply in these projects. Here are some trades that can be pay well.

  • Pipe (or tube) Welder. These are per diem welders who can weld many different types of pipe, typically in a butt joint and using many different weld electrodes. True specialists in the industry and among the most sought after and highest demand trades.
  • Structural Welder. Like a pipe welder, per diem structural welders are welding flat steel together. This work is typically done on structural steel or steel plate. This trade can be a steppingstone to the higher paid world of pipe welding.
  • Heavy Equipment Operator. The highest paid per diem heavy equipment operators are those who operate large cranes. Large industrial projects can use sometimes dozens of cranes on each project and this trade has the benefit of working on a machine instead of doing the manual labor that some other trades do.
  • Per diem electricians are always in high demand. This trade takes a lot of training and can work on both high voltage and low voltage projects.
  • Working closely with the crane operators, per diem riggers have a unique skill of how to secure and lift heavy objects with a crane safely.
  • Per diem millwrights work on rotating equipment. These can be turbines, pumps, motors, fans and just about anything that turns on an axis.
  • Per diem pipefitters work to set and “fit” pipe, typically so the welders can weld it together. Fitting pipe is a specialized skill and takes training and years of experience.


Per Diem Means What?

Per diem is a term for tax free money that is paid to a traveling construction worker to cover daily living expenses. The term is a Latin term that means by the day. The government recognizes the administrative challenge on companies and individuals to reimburse for living expenses, which is why per diem exists.

There are several criteria that companies need to meet for the payments to classify as being non-taxable. One of the most important criteria is that the payments need to be made to employees who are traveling for the job. In other words, if you are living at home and collecting per diem payments, you should not qualify for tax free per diem payments. This means the employer you work for will likely want to verify where you live. In most cases employers want to see that you live fifty (50) miles are greater from the job site to qualify for tax free per diem.


What is a Road Dog?

Why is our site called Road Dog Jobs? It has everything to do per diem construction. The site was originally set up to help people find jobs on projects that require travel and are paying per diem. The group of people that travels for construction projects call themselves many different slang names. Road Dog is one of them as it recognizes the nature of traveling construction jobs; namely being on the road for work. We named this site Road Dog Jobs specifically to reflect the types of jobs and people that we are looking to help.


We wish you the best of luck in finding your next per diem construction job. Please make sure you register for a free account, and we look forward to helping you out at Road Dog Jobs! You can always reach out to us by sending an email to hello@roaddogjobs.com