General Contractor Hourly Rate: How Much Do They Really Make?

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Construction is a tough business. Architects, contractors, subcontractors, workers, and suppliers need to have a high degree of technical knowledge and skill to build increasingly complex structures, whether it is a home, residential complex, skyscrapers, or commercial buildings. For a contractor, one of the key aspects of overseeing a construction project is ensuring that they get paid. Contractors in the US are paid on an hourly basis, and their pay rate depends on their expertise, skills, time spent on the job, and how complex the project is. Determining the average salary of a general contractor is difficult. If you ask how much they make,  it depends on what state you live in and what type of project you are talking about.  

In this post, we will be breaking down the general contractor salary and put light on how much they make. 

In this post, we will be breaking down the general contractor salary and put light on how much they make and why it is important to hire the best general contractors.

General Contractor Salary Breakdown 

According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the general contractor wage is listed as the ‘median’ pay. Median wage data is retrieved from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. It is calculated based on the wage at which half of the contractors earned more than the median and half earned less. 

The report suggests that the average base salary of a general contractor is about $120,994 annually. This means that the average hourly rate of a general contractor is $58.15/hour. It has also been found that a general contractor makes an average bonus of $7,692 per year. Here is the complete breakdown: 

  • An entry-level general contractor with 1-3 years of work experience earns an average income of $84,405 per year 
  • An intermediate level contractor with 3-8 years of experience earns $120,944 per year 
  • A senior-level general contractor with 8+ years of work experience earns an average income of $150,354

While this listing provides a good idea about the wage distribution among general contractors, it is not fixed. That is, a contractor working at a large commercial construction firm is different from a general contractor performing residential remodels and builds. Therefore, the salary will depend on the job description, requirements, and more. 

How Much a General Contractor Makes Depend on a Few Things 

Several factors come into play when breaking down the hourly pay rate of a general contractor. The most prominent ones include: 

#1 Business Ownership 

The primary consideration when determining the salary of a general contractor is whether they own their own business. Suppose you own a construction company. How much you earn will depend on how profitable you are as a construction business owner. If money is leaking out somewhere else or you are not working efficiently to be proficient, your take-home income is going to suffer. Similar is the case when you work as a contractor for another company. Your pay will depend on how you manage your team and whether you are making each job profitable. 

#2 Where they Live and Operate 

It is pretty much understood that the pay of a contractor living and operating in Kentucky will be different from a contractor living and working in Alabama. The average hourly rate changes as you change states. Each state has its construction laws and regulations, and the cost of living in each state in the US is different. Therefore, where the general contractor is from plays a vital role in deciding the hourly rate. The contractor will charge based on the cost of living in the state. This includes, but is not limited to – education fees for children, food and grocery, house rent, entertainment, etc. 

#3 Quality of Work, Services, and Clients 

The more complex a project, the more money will be charged. While this factor is a little tricky, it cannot be overlooked. Suppose you worked as a contractor for 10 years and now want to start your own construction company. How much you should charge, or you can charge, will depend on how good your work is. Also, feeling confident in the quality of your work plays a vital role in the hourly rate as well. And don’t forget the client who will pay for that. Simply put, you may be the best contractor in the state, but if your clients cannot afford your services, then you won’t make what you want to. General contractors who are able to clearly communicate the quality of services and show it in their work charge more. Also, such contractors are selective about their clients because they know that not all clients have big budgets and are always looking to cut costs. Moreover, the type of project the general contractor takes up also determines his hourly rate. A contractor who takes up big projects like luxury apartments, villas, etc., is going to charge more as compared to a contractor who just does remodeling work. 

How General Contractors Set Their Salary? 

Of all the work they do, setting the salary is the most difficult. There needs to be a balance between taking too little and taking too much. Take too much, and the contractor may not get a lot of jobs or projects. Take too little, and the incentive is scarce to keep up with the hard work. Thus, general contractors consider multiple factors that can impact their hourly pay rate. These factors include: 

  1. What does the market pay for the position? 

If the market pays $35 per hour for a contractor, then a general contractor is no longer in the position to receive $50 per hour for the same services. So, market analysis is done to determine the best pay rate. 

  1. Corporate structure 

The corporate structure chosen by the general contractor will also influence his hourly pay rate. S-corps and C-corps are major types of companies, and each has its unique set of characteristics. 


Overall, it should be clear to you that the hourly pay rate of a general contractor is not fixed as it depends on a lot of factors. Conducting market research is important if you are new to the market.  

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