What Are Some of the Best Cities to Work as a Tradesman?

When you’re trying to figure out where to live, finding some of the best cities to work as a tradesman can seem complicated. You can just move to a big city with a lot of construction, right? Not so fast. Some of those big cities have very high costs of living or may have other restrictions in place that make it difficult to make a living. Also, things can change depending on the type of work you want, whether you like construction or maintenance. For that reason, we’ll discuss in this article what makes a city a good one to consider, then follow up with a list of the current best cities to work as a tradesmen.

What Makes a City a Great Option for Tradesmen?

work as a tradesmanAs mentioned above, one of the biggest issues with simply picking a city based on the amount of work available is that it takes the cost of living out of the picture. Using the Cost of Living index available from Best Places, for example, someone who is making $20 an hour in San Francisco, which has the country’s highest cost of living, actually only gives you about $7.43 in purchasing power, well below minimum wage. By comparison, Cleveland has one of the lowest costs of living (though you may find it lower in rural areas) with the same $20 bringing you $27.55 in purchasing power.¹ Which one would you rather live in? This is why it’s so important to check these types of details when considering new locations.

You’re going to have some personal preferences that come into play as well. Do you have kids? School quality will be a big concern unless you’ve got some option available to homeschool or send them to private school. Perhaps you or a family member can’t stand heat or cold. You’ll want to take the average climate into consideration. Want to enjoy the country’s peace and quiet or be close to the action in the middle of the city? These are also important aspects to consider when making your selection.

Another issue to consider is market saturation. If there are no job listings for that city in your trade, or very few, you may want to steer clear, because they may already have too many tradesmen in that particular specialty. Look for cities that have a lot of listings. Better yet, if the city appears to have a bidding war for your trade going on, it means that they have few tradesmen in that specialty and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to consider.

Top Cities for Tradesmen to Work²

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada: With a lower than average cost of living and higher than average tradesmen’s wages, Las Vegas is seeing constant construction and has a higher than usual amount of private union membership. This means that you’ll be able to get what you need for less, make more with good union memberships available with consistent new work projects.
  2. Sacramento, California: As people flee San Francisco’s high cost of living, many of them are showing up in Sacramento. Which has a cost of living just a few percent above the national average, tradesmen wages higher than even Las Vegas, strong employment growth and good private union membership rates, which adds up to a great deal in an amazing town.
  3. St. Louis, Missouri: If you’d prefer a Midwestern vibe, St. Louis provides you with plenty of city at a discounted rate. A lower than average cost of living, much higher than average tradesmen’s wages, and fair city growth provide you with plenty of extra to be able to enjoy the blues instead of playing the blues yourself.
  4. Portland, Oregon: Like the redwoods? There’s plenty of nature around Portland, along with all the amenities you’d expect from a big city. A cost of living just a few percent above the national average, strong growth and a much higher than average tradesmen’s wage gives you plenty to enjoy in this West Coast city.
  5. Birmingham, Alabama: Ready for some Southern charm? Birmingham has somewhat lower than average tradesmen’s wages, but that’s more than made up for by the very low cost of living. The capital city of Alabama is also seeing good growth as more people move into the south.
  6. Riverside, California: If you’re an Orange County lover, this could be a great place to move that gets you close to, but not into, Los Angeles. With strong growth, a somewhat higher than average cost of living, excellent private union membership and good average wages for tradesmen, your next words will be, “I’m going to Disneyland!”
  7. Kansas City, Missouri: Like BBQ? You’ll love Kansas City! This Midwestern town has a friendly feel combined with a much lower than average cost of living, good growth, and good average wages for tradesman staffing jobs. A short drive gets you out of the city and into the countryside, and we promise, Peculiar isn’t as weird as it sounds.

In Conclusion

By taking these considerations into account when you’re selecting the best cities to work as a tradesman, you’ll be able to settle in for a successful career long into the future. But which city you select will depend on your own personal preferences, such as climate, location and, of course, its overall vibe. Whether you’re into Southern culture or West Coast beaches, you’re sure to find something you like.

Are you looking for work in your trade but aren’t sure where to turn? Elite Force can help! Our experienced placement specialists can help you find a great job fast, making it easier to focus on practicing your trade instead of pounding the pavement and filling out applications. Just click Apply Now to get started!


  1. Xemplar Tradesmen Recruiting, “Best And Worst Cities For Welders To Earn A Living,” https://www.xemplar.com/resources/best-and-worst-cities-for-welders-earn-a-living/
  2. Lattice Publishing, “Best Cities for Tradesmen,” Times Union, Jan 7, 2021, https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Best-Cities-for-Tradesmen-15853802.php
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