A new construction executive salary study from Specialty Consultants (SCI) of Pittsburgh says that the prosperity of the home building industry hasn't meant continued compensation growth for managers. The study looked at the top 50 percent of firms in each category nationally.

One surprising finding: Although commercial construction has tanked, due to "the burden of excess office space" (primarily for high-tech firms), commercial managers continue to earn far more than their residential counterparts, in both salary and incentives.

Researchers blame home building's success--which has led to more consolidation by big builders. They note that big players purchasing more mid-sized companies in secondary and tertiary markets swing the severance axe freely. "Upper-middle management positions are being eliminated from the marketplace," the report says, "holding down compensation as competition for the remaining roles increases."

Only two types of positions have seen significant earnings growth in the home building sector in recent years: division presidents, because private companies fearful of public company headhunters have raised their salaries, and superintendents (salaries not provided), who have seen the greatest percentage increase of all, presumably for similar reasons.

Commercial Commercial Home building Home building
base salary incentives base salary incentives
President/CEO $185,000 $108,000 $125,000 $75,000
Vice president of construction $173,000 $39,000 $110,000 $45,000
Senior construction manager $102,000 $22,000 n/a n/a