It’s the time of year when calls are pouring in to request our annual compensation survey. One of the biggest trends we see developing in Florida is the raising of compensation packages in regions outside of southeast Florida. These had been at least ten percent lower, but we are now seeing candidates being offered the same packages as southeast Florida.  This is mainly due to the Tampa region increasing the volume and scope of projects.  We are also seeing an increase in other regions throughout the state, due to rising demand for construction superintendents and project managers with professional training and higher education.

Currently, the cost of living in Tampa remains ten percent lower than Fort Lauderdale and thirteen percent higher than Miami. The experts predict that housing costs will increase in all regions over the next year, so other than attracting those from higher taxed regions of the country such as New York and New Jersey, it is not as simple of a decision for those not at executive level compensation living throughout the country to move to Florida.  Many candidates find themselves making the mistake of going to lower cost living regions such as Port Saint Lucie, Bradenton, Vero and other nice areas to chase their Florida weather dream, only to find the job market limited with compensation packages or commute times much less attractive.

Compensation ranges are still extremely difficult to delineate precisely, because we still calculate them based on a person’s titles rather than his qualifications and experiences.  When you are determining a fair wage for an employee at your company, consider that you may have a person titled “superintendent” that has two years’ experience in the field and oversees architectural build out projects with standard finishes, whereas another candidate can also be titled “superintendent” and be responsible for full site management, documentation and communication on a ten-million dollar, multi-story, ground-up commercial or multi-family infill project.  Both could be performing well, but the risk, knowledge and responsibility required on the ground-up project is worth double the compensation of the other, irrespective of the identical titles.

The article we featured on the career path in preconstruction/estimating demonstrates with dropdowns how as a person’s knowledge, communication skills, education and relational skills increase, so can their job titles and their compensation.  Since most construction companies cannot have, nor should they have, this many titles, they should be able to take the responsibilities and align an employee’s compensation accordingly with their responsibility within the here said company.

Please note that if you do not offer the following benefits, be prepared to roll that into cash on your offer. Alternatively, do not expect to attract the most qualified/life balanced candidates to your team.

  • Health insurance at minimum for the employee- out of pocket costs, dependent costs, cobra costs can all be deal breakers
  • Formal Paid Time Off (PTO) policy.
  • Additional Benefits you will find companies are offering or you may have to up the compensation for the candidate to purchase themselves if you do not offer. Even if you want your payroll to remain in-house, companies such as Paychex and ADP offer HR Solutions for your benefit plans which can pay off when trying to keep your labor burden in check. Rolling benefit cost into salary ups your tax costs which is often more than the fees an HR firm charges to administer and offer a benefit suite to your employees including:
  • Dental, Vision, Long term, Short term disability, Life insurance, Pre-paid legal, accidental death and more.
  • Written performance reviews whether tied to compensation or not are important. Performance reviews with goals and expectations to achieve an increase in compensation is highly recommended to attract and keep employees.
  • Written bonus plans with how it is earned and how and when it is paid is recommended. Bonus is the double-edged sword as bonus can be expected and bonus is all about expectations – so whatever you do be clear when negotiating if you have a plan.

2020 Vertical Building- base salary ranges:

Project Engineer/Assistant Project Manager

This position ranges from someone with some college to a recent college intern or recent college graduate to an individual with several years’ experience in the construction industry who is still not qualified for sole responsibility of a project on their own:

While in school obtaining a Construction or Engineering degree or some higher education:

$50,000/year-$60,000 (must have industry work experience)

After obtaining the degree:

$60,000 – $85,000/year. (the higher range is for those that stand out with communication, documentation and technical knowledge interest and aptitude)

APM -More experience/larger projects:

as high as $100,000/year. (Typically, a career APM/Project Engineer or someone who just hasn’t had the opportunity to PM their own project)

Some companies will add the level of Assistant Project Manager and some companies do not have Project Engineering title, but have only Assistant Project Manager

Project Manager

A diversely used title.  The below numbers are for a management professional with a Construction Management or Engineering degree responsible for the full project including contractual, scheduling and budgetary components of a project and not project managers who are part of a team over specific divisions.  The below reflects PM’s responsible as project lead under an Executive or Owner.

Tenant Interior Project Manager

Projects do not involve structural.  They usually handle multiple projects or significant luxury projects 10 million and above with a Superintendent working with or under them at each location.  $75,000 – $120,000/year. Luxury specialty Project Managers for Penthouse build-outs, hospitality and restaurant build-out can be to 150K or higher.

Ground Up (1 to 4 story, up to $10 million dollar commercial projects).

$95,000 – $125,000/year.

Mid / High Rise and/or $30 million dollar and above projects.

$120,000 – $165,000/year. (garden style and to 7/8 stories)  $140,000- $200,000 ( taller mid-rise/High-rise)

Senior Project Managers(This title should be responsibility and not years of experience) A Senior Project Manager is usually responsible for the People Management along with Project Management for their project or projects.

Project Executive

Oversees multiple teams on multiple projects and has bottom line financial responsibility for building of the projects.  Will usually also be somehow active with business development for the company.

These base salaries range from the low of $150,000/year to the high of $250,000/year or more based on the rest of the infrastructure of the corporation and the added perks. The new trend is we are seeing this title used in place of VP-Ops Manager/Division Manager for mid-size companies and we have seen the base/package higher in the 200K range

Operations Manager

This title sometimes overlaps with the Project Executive, but ultimately an Operations Manager or Vice-President of Operations oversees all departments within the company, monitors and sets goals, coaches and directs the team wanting to build projects within budget and on time allowing the rest of the Executive team the ammunition to attract more business and grow the company.  $150,000 to as high as $250,000/year+ .   The title is also sometimes DOC –Director of Construction that works well driving home the fact that these individuals are responsible for all Construction operations and profitability on the delivery side.

The higher a person goes in Project Management, usually the base salary start to level; however, incentive grows.



Responsible for taking off each aspect of bid documents, writing scopes of work and establishing the building budget.  Keep in mind that some companies don’t use the Estimating word at all, but do Preconstruction Manager title and do Precon I, Precon II etc..

Jr. Estimator

This classification is due to lack of experience in the department.  $60,000 – $75,000/year.


Three to five plus (3 – 5+) years experience.  $75,000 – $100,000/year.

Lead/Senior Estimator

Five to seven plus (5 – 7+) years experience.  Can assemble an accurate bid on project involving all 16 CSI divisions.  May oversee or lead a team.  $90,000 – $120,000/year or higher especially if large project/high-rise can go as high as 200K.

Senior Lead Estimator

Title gaining popularity- Basically all the capabilities of a Chief, but not the Title. That’s when you get into the higher end of above.

Chief Estimator/Estimating Manager

Oversees team of estimators on multiple projects and helps in business development/presentations, sub-contractor/vendor relations and is key contact between estimating and other departments within the company.  Has a track record of top estimating, people management and interpersonal skills and usually has strong conceptual capabilities.  $125,000 – $250,000/year.+

Vice-President of Estimating

Usually this designation is for larger companies with a team of 10+ Estimators or is sometimes given to a Chief after many successful years of service.  Does all a Chief does and then some.  Usually responsible for bringing deals to the table and closing the deal.  $150,000 – $300,000/year.

Pre-Construction/Purchasing are overlapping and related positions and departments in which the salary ranges are in line with Estimating.



Oversees groups of Superintendents on multiple projects.  Monitors, trains, mentors and is eyes and ears for the office.  $150,000 – $250,000/year or more.

Lead/Senior Superintendent

Typically, is the one leading the building in the field and overseeing the sub or self-performing trades to build a job along with managing and directing a team of supers under them.  $85,000 – $175,000/year or more, dependent on the project size, team size, and the Superintendent’s ability and proven track record.  Most common until you get to high rise is $85,000 – $120,000


This may be a sole Superintendent on a job under $10 million dollars to a Superintendent on a team on a larger job responsible for a portion of the project.  Area Super, etc… Most small – mid size companies just use the Superintendent title and assign more responsibility/pay to someone who is a stand-out vs a new title.  $90,000- $125,000

Assistant Superintendent

Not yet ready for a project of their own under $10 million dollars or may be trade specific making a move to the General Contracting side.  Still needs direction and mentoring from more experienced Superintendents.  $55,000 – $95,000/year.

MEP Superintendent

This individual is well versed in coordinating the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing trades on a job or helping the team of Superintendents on multiple projects, focusing on the MEP trade coordination and monitoring.  $85,000 – $100,000/year.+

Support Positions:

Plans Coordinator

$45,000 – $55,000/year

Project Coordinator (must read blueprints)

$50,000 – $60,000/year

Job Site Administrator

$55,000 – $75,000/year

Project Administrator

$55,000 – 80,000/year

Main Office Executive Administrator

$40,000 – $70,000/year (If the full deal C level admin and construction admin background we are seeking 65-70K or higher more often

Office Manager

$55,000 – $75,000/year

Cost Accountant

$55,000 – $90,000/year

Accounting Manager/Assistant Controller

$75,000 – $90,000/year


$90,000 – $150,000+/year (small to mid- size)

Controller/Divisional Controller

100 Million + company: $125,000 – $175,000+

VP of Accounting and Finance

$150,000 +

Fair wages and benefits to stay competitive are important for attracting the right talent for your company.  To retain the top personnel, it is important to combine the financial package with the other items important to the workforce as we discussed in the article “Quality, Quantity and the Cost of People”.

We are always here to help!  You may call us at 305-361-0094 or email us at

People are your most expensive and valuable asset. Are you competitive?

Suzanne Breistol


Leave a reply

Your email addres will not be published.
Required fields are marked with

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.