The United States is currently in the throes of a skilled trades worker shortage. Across the board, the country doesn’t have enough qualified electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, and carpenters to meet the demand. One recent study found that many of the most in-demand jobs remain unfilled for at least a month. This comes as millions of Americans who were laid off during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic are looking for work.
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Not all job markets are the same. While it is relatively easy to find work in all 50 states, the pay is different depending on the state. To find the states where home service workers are paid the most, ServiceTitan analyzed June 2020 salary data from Payscale. The average salary of a home service worker was calculated by averaging the pay of entry-, intermediate-, and senior-level workers in each state. HVAC technicians, plumbers, and electricians were all included.
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» Average yearly salary: $54,744 ($26.32 hourly)
Plumbers: $53,533 ($25.74 hourly)
HVAC technician: $54,433 ($26.17 hourly)
Electrician: $56,267 ($27.05 hourly)
Like many other states, Kansas is experiencing a shortage of home service workers. Kansas has historically struggled to fill jobs across industries that require skilled workers, while restaurant and other hospitality industries are also struggling to find enough workers.
Kansas has the second-lowest cost of living in the U.S. as of quarter one of 2021, which means salaries high and low go farther here than other states. Home service professionals should look to Overland Park, Lenexa, Kansas City, and Wichita, which are among the highest-paying cities in Kansas for these three professions.
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» Average yearly salary: $54,800 ($26.35 hourly)
Plumbers: $53,567 ($25.75 hourly)
HVAC technician: $54,500 ($26.20 hourly)
Electrician: $56,333 ($27.08 hourly)
On the flip side, Oregon has a high cost of living. It is the fifth-most expensive state in the nation, costing 31.43% more than the national average. As a result, these trade workers’ salaries, while high, don’t stretch as far as they do in other states. Portland is especially expensive, with a cost of living so much higher than the rest of the state that Oregon’s minimum wage is higher in the city than in rural counties where the cost of living is considerably less. Plumbers, HVAC technicians, and electricians—like workers in many other sectors—should consider this large discrepancy in the cost of living when deciding where to settle.
Still, home service workers do well in Oregon compared to other states. Oregon is the fifth-highest paying in the U.S. for electricians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the Central Oregon region ranks in the top five for plumbers’ pay. Central Oregon and the East Cascades regions are also projected to see huge increases in electrician jobs available—31.3% and 23.3%, respectively—making them smart places to look as salaries may be even higher due to demand.
» Average yearly salary: $55,856 ($26.85 hourly)
Plumbers: $54,633 ($26.27 hourly)
HVAC technician: $55,567 ($26.71 hourly)
Electrician: $57,367 ($27.58 hourly)
Officially the most expensive state in the United States, prices for things like grocery staples in Hawaii are nearly twice what they are in Kansas and Indiana. On the other hand, the number of jobs in Hawaii far outweighs the number of potential workers, as there are more tourists than locals on the islands at any given time.
Typical salaries for trade workers are not that far off the average salary in the state, falling just under the 50th percentile. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks the Kauai nonmetropolitan area, specifically, as the highest-earning nonmetropolitan area for HVAC technicians in the nation, while pay for electricians and plumbers in the Kauai nonmetropolitan area fall in the top five highest-earning spots among nonmetropolitan areas. The job outlook is growing for each of the three professions in Hawaii.
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» Average yearly salary: $56,400 ($27.12 hourly)
Plumbers: $55,200 ($26.54 hourly)
HVAC technician: $56,200 ($27.02 hourly)
Electrician: $57,800 ($27.79 hourly)
Many qualified tradespeople struggle to get licensed in Maine. The state doesn’t honor out-of-state licenses for electricians and instead requires even the most experienced workers to go back to school for a considerable length of time to earn a new, state-approved license. One unexpected result of this is that some companies are forced to shut down shop when the one or two master electricians retire and the business can’t find experienced electricians with the proper state certification to replace them.
The good news for those who can obtain a Maine license is that wages are high because demand is high. This is especially true for experienced tradespeople, who can expect to earn upward of $35 per hour after 10 years. Plumbers, HVAC technicians, and electricians all fall on the list of high-wage, in-demand jobs in Maine. The cost of living in the state is the 10th-highest in the nation, a factor to consider in addition to the higher-than-average wages. The Southwest Maine nonmetropolitan area is the third-highest nonmetropolitan area in the nation in terms of HVAC technician employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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» Average yearly salary: $56,400 ($27.12 hourly)
Plumbers: $55,533 ($26.70 hourly)
HVAC technician: $56,133 ($26.99 hourly)
Electrician: $57,533 ($27.66 hourly)
Shortages of home service workers in Maryland go back to the Great Recession of 2008, when many of the state’s plumbing, electric, and HVAC businesses folded under the economic downturn and never came back. Supply that doesn’t meet demand can be a good thing for workers in these fields, who can charge premium rates and be choosier about which projects they take on.
As recovery from the coronavirus begins, there is a record high number of job openings in the state. So where should home service workers look to live to get paid the most? Reported salaries show HVAC technicians make significantly more money in Columbia, Maryland, than in other places in the state, while plumbers make the most in Beltsville, Maryland. The state’s proximity to the D.C. area results in high employment levels of workers across all three fields.
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» Average yearly salary: $57,056 ($27.43 hourly)
Plumbers: $53,867 ($25.90 hourly)
HVAC technician: $55,967 ($26.91 hourly)
Electrician: $61,333 ($29.49 hourly)
Like many states, Minnesota has been struggling with stigmas and perceptions surrounding blue-collar work. Many millennials, who now make up the largest part of the workforce, were raised to believe that four-year degrees and the jobs requiring them were the only paths to prosperity. As a result, fewer younger workers are entering the trades, creating a shortage as baby boomer workers retire without a new cohort to replace them. This means that electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technician salaries are high in Minnesota.
Between 2013 and 2018, electrician salaries grew here by 24.2%—more than anywhere else in the country. Electricians, plumbers, or HVAC technicians make the top of the list for jobs for millennials in Minnesota with only vocational training required, meaning future workers in these sectors don’t have to take on the debt load of four-year degrees. Minneapolis-St. Paul, specifically, is the 10th-highest metropolitan area for plumbers’ pay, while the Northeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area is a top-paying nonmetropolitan area for HVAC technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
» Average yearly salary: $57,067 ($27.44 hourly)
Plumbers: $55,800 ($26.83 hourly)
HVAC technician: $56,767 ($27.29 hourly)
Electrician: $58,633 ($28.19 hourly)
In Washington, in particular, tradespeople earn higher salaries because of massive worker shortages. One plumbing company owner told a local news station that finding qualified, able employees has become more difficult since the onset of the coronavirus, despite the fact that his company provides on-the-job training and requires no previous work experience. Plumbers aren’t the only home service professionals who fare well in the state, either: The U.S. Department of Labor projects that HVAC technician jobs will increase by 15.6%, or 1,130 openings each year, over the next decade.
While the cost of living in the state is in the top 20 in the nation, HVAC technicians in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area are the seventh-highest paid of any metropolitan area in the U.S., and electricians in the Mount Vernon-Anacortes area are the fourth-highest paid. Mukilteo, Everett, and Tacoma are particularly good places for HVAC technicians, as demonstrated by their higher-than-average hourly wages, which are well above $30. Similarly, Kent and Renton, Washington, are offering over $40 an hour for electricians, with the ability to earn up to $10,000 a year in overtime.
#8. New Hampshire
» Average yearly salary: $57,289 ($27.54 hourly)
Plumbers: $56,100 ($26.97 hourly)
HVAC technician: $57,067 ($27.44 hourly)
Electrician: $58,700 ($28.22 hourly)
The average age for a skilled trade worker in New Hampshire is 51, a number that’s inching closer to retirement age every year. And with few young people coming in to take over the roles and businesses, the potential for earning only increases for those who are interested and willing to enter the fields. Electricians and plumbers fare well in New Hampshire’s apprentice programs, which all but guarantee higher incomes post-apprenticeship. There are areas where salaries are higher, based on increased demand and living costs.
Electricians can earn more than $39 an hour in both Rochester and Auburn, New Hampshire. HVAC technicians can bring in $38 in Salem, New Hampshire, and plumbers can take home a whopping $46 in Auburn. The cost of living in New Hampshire falls close to the middle among the overall state ranking—notable for an East Coast state and relevant for workers whose salaries go farther than they do in surrounding states.
#7. Rhode Island
» Average yearly salary: $57,367 ($27.58 hourly)
Plumbers: $56,167 ($27 hourly)
HVAC technician: $57,133 ($27.47 hourly)
Electrician: $58,800 ($28.27 hourly)
Rhode Island residents report that good jobs can be hard to come by in the state, which, coupled with high living costs and high taxes, results in many people relocating. But while the cost of living is high, both the minimum wage and median wage are higher in the state than national averages. Still, recruiting young workers for home service jobs has proved to be more difficult than for corporate jobs in Rhode Island.
The struggle to find and keep electricians, HVAC technicians, and plumbers is one reason why salaries for these jobs are so high. If you’re looking to make even more than the state average, cities like Providence and East Greenwich, Rhode Island, typically pay north of $35 per hour.
#6. New York
» Average yearly salary: $57,744 ($27.76 hourly)
Plumbers: $55,833 ($26.84 hourly)
HVAC technician: $58,300 ($28.03 hourly)
Electrician: $59,100 ($28.41 hourly)
New York is a state where trade and construction industries are dominated by unions, and these unions are a major reason why salaries are so high. Strong unions have long negotiated for higher pay for skilled workers, although the recent shutdowns due to the coronavirus have resulted in some unions agreeing to reduced pay in exchange for increased work and more contracts. It’s possible that salaries for trade workers might see a slight decline in the coming years as the economy regains its footing—or doesn’t. Still, the sheer concentration in and around New York City explains why the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks the New York-Newark-Jersey City area as the metropolitan area with the highest employment level in the nation for plumbers, HVAC technicians, and electricians.
New York is also the state with the second-highest cost of living, meaning even higher-than-average salaries due to strong union bargaining won’t go as far for workers living in the city. The cost of living in New York City is significantly greater than other areas in the state, with Nerd Wallet estimating it is 138% higher than in Albany and 165% higher than in Buffalo. But salaries are lower outside the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area. Home service workers looking to strike a balance between good wages and decent cost of living should look to smaller cities like Rochester, New York.
#5. New Jersey
» Average yearly salary: $59,067 ($28.40 hourly)
Plumbers: $57,767 ($27.77 hourly)
HVAC technician: $58,700 ($28.22 hourly)
Electrician: $60,733 ($29.20 hourly)
Neighboring New Jersey’s proximity to and relationship with New York City results in high pay for home service workers, with the New York-Newark-Jersey City area ranking as the highest concentration of employment levels in the U.S. for plumbers, HVAC technicians, and electricians affecting the outlook for the whole state. Taxes in New Jersey are among the highest in the country and are set to rise, which has necessitated higher wages that make it affordable to remain in the area. Trenton, New Jersey, is the second-highest paying metropolitan area for electricians in the nation.
» Average yearly salary: $59,178 ($28.45 hourly)
Plumbers: $57,867 ($27.82 hourly)
HVAC technician: $58,933 ($28.33 hourly)
Electrician: $60,733 ($29.20 hourly)
By 2026, the demand for skilled tradespeople is expected to grow by 8% in Connecticut. For those in the home service industry, this all but ensures salaries will rise as demand goes up. Another good indicator that the densely populated state intends to invest in these industries and their employees is that Gov. Ned Lamont has announced a renewed emphasis on growing this sector of the workforce, starting with making training and education more accessible.
Alongside the high hourly wages, overtime can hit $11,250 a year for electricians, and HVAC technicians can earn up to $37 per hour. Cities in Connecticut like Hartford and Windsor rank among the best for earning potential. However, Connecticut ranks high for cost of living, meaning even those attractive salaries won’t go as far here as in other states.
» Average yearly salary: $59,511 ($28.61 hourly)
Plumbers: $58,400 ($28.08 hourly)
HVAC technician: $59,433 ($28.57 hourly)
Electrician: $60,700 ($29.18 hourly)
There’s a gap between knowing an industry needs workers and actually getting workers into the industry. California is investing $200 million into improving the delivery of vocational education—education that can add tens of thousands of dollars to an average trade worker’s salary. However, the sheer size of California means that not all metro areas are equal for home service workers. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area is the highest-paying in the nation for both electricians and plumbers, and fourth-highest for HVAC technicians.
The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and Merced areas, meanwhile, are also in the top 10 metros in the nation for electricians, while San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ranks high for plumbers, and HVAC techs fare well in the Napa, Santa Cruz-Watsonville, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, and Santa Maria-Santa Barbara metros. Plus, the overall state employment for plumbers is expected to grow 12.4% by 2028. But it’s not all rosy: California has the nation’s third-highest cost of living.
» Average yearly salary: $59,700 ($28.70 hourly)
Plumbers: $58,733 ($28.24 hourly)
HVAC technician: $60,100 ($28.89 hourly)
Electrician: $60,267 ($28.97 hourly)
Like many Eastern Seaboard states, Massachusetts is not an inexpensive place to live, ranking fourth in cost of living across the U.S. The median household income is $70,628, and income inequality is enormous. So while home service jobs pay very well here, cost of living is a factor to consider.
The Boston-Cambridge-Nashua metro area has among the highest employment levels for electricians, who earn an annual mean wage of $70,860. And in more suburban areas of Boston, like Wakefield and Wilmington, hourly wages near $50.
» Average yearly salary: $61,156 ($29.40 hourly)
Plumbers: $59,833 ($28.77 hourly)
HVAC technician: $60,833 ($29.25 hourly)
Electrician: $62,800 ($30.19 hourly)
Alaska’s remoteness contributes to the state’s higher salaries, as there are fewer experienced tradespeople willing to move to the state. But those who do fare well, especially HVAC technicians and plumbers, as Alaska is the highest paying in the country for those jobs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the best-paying jobs for electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians are found in Anchorage and Kodiak, Alaska, according to Indeed. The population of Alaska has been on the decline over recent years, which means salaries may go down if demand decreases. The cost of living is also high in the remote state, coming in sixth in the nation.
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