In terms of education and duties, tradesmen fall somewhere between laborers and professionals, with most working in construction. They undergo training through an apprenticeship or formal post-secondary education at trade schools and junior colleges. They practice a craft that typically involves the fabrication or repair of materials and machinery. Wages depend on craft type, rank, employer and location, among other factors.
A tradesman's salary differs according to rank and time on the job. The agreement between the Chicago Plumbers’ Local Union 130 and Plumbing Contractors Association is an example of rank-based compensation. Those learning the job are called apprentices, and their salary increases significantly throughout the five years of their training period. For the first six months, they make $14.95 per hour. By their third year, they earn $22 per hour; during their fifth year, they receive $33.
At the journeyman level, tradesmen can practice their skill in a professional capacity. Continuing with the Chicago union example, journeyman plumbers make $44 per hour. When they reach the rank of foreman, they can supervise four or more plumbers and receive $46, and at superintendent, they can manage 19 or more individuals and receive $47 an hour. Specific wages for the highest rank of general superintendent are unspecified, but must be at least six percent higher than the pay of superintendents.
Wages for tradesmen differ by job type, according to the examples provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roofers who create roofs made of shingles, wood, asphalt, slate and other materials made median wages of $16.33 per hour, with a range of $10.68 to $28.35. Electricians who handle the distribution of power inside and outside structures get a range of $13.79 to $38.59 per hour, with a median of $22.68. Sheet metal workers, who fabricate and repair sheet metal products such as ducts, furnace casings and drainpipes, receive a median $19.54 per hour, with a range of $11.78 to $35.46.
Specific information about brickmasons' salaries can show how employers and locations can make a difference in wages. In May of 2009, brickmasons made median wages of $22.47 per hour, from a range of $13.45 to $36.98 per hour. Their highest-paying employers were building finishing contractors at a mean $31.75 per hour for 3,040 positions. Their highest payers, however, were foundation, structure and building exterior contractors, who paid less at a mean $23.15 per hour, but offered far more employment, with 68,550 jobs. As for states, Massachusetts, boasted the highest mean at $37.78 per hour. St. Joseph, Missouri, topped the city list with mean wages of $41.01 per hour.