If you're in the building trade, the chances are you've heard about the skills shortage we're facing. Simply put, there aren't enough new boots on the ground to cope with the construction industry's needs.

We're still waiting to see the full effect Brexit's going to have on the construction labour market, of course. Meanwhile the government's got big plans for shaking up the industry as we head toward 2025. What this all means right now, though, is that skilled hands are in more demand than ever - and that means higher wages.

Fewer skilled workers might mean that workers find they're in demand across more sites, which means more travel and more expenses - and more to claim back in your tax refund.

Average Annual Salary

By 2022, the  average annual salary in the UK's expected to hit around £25,000. According to a study from Screwfix, wages in the building game are set to top that by about £2,500 a year.

Specialists like plumbers and electricians could be looking at even more – as much as £31,000 in fact. If you're thinking of kicking off a career as a tradesman, there's never been a better time to get yourself skilled up.

At the very top end of the scale, some of the numbers are pretty mind-boggling. Some electricians are reported as making about £3,000 a week. That works out at an amazing £144,000 a year, assuming 4 weeks off.

There are plumbers making £2,000 a week, and bricklayers bringing in £1,125 as well.

In fact, a plumber called Stephen Fry (no, really) has been making a name for himself in the papers lately. At 34, and self-employed through Pimlico Plumbers, he's reportedly making £210,000 a year. For perspective, that's half as much again as Theresa May! To be fair, he's working hard for that cash, with long days and tough night shifts. He's got an apprenticeship and 15 years of experience under his tool-belt, and he's showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. In fact, he says he's planning on working until he drops – and with that much cash coming in we can't blame him!

Where are the top wages earned?

Right now, the top wages are still to be found in London and the South-East. That said, the skills shortage is having an impact all over the country. Housing is becoming one of the key challenges facing the UK, and it's going to take some serious manpower to handle the demand. As long as skilled workers are in short supply, wages are likely to keep getting driven up.

Of course, you've still got to be careful when you choose a career. While being self-employed in a trade like Stephen Fry can lead to serious money, it can also bring risks. As a Sole Trader, for instance, you can easily find yourself losing more than your business if it all goes wrong and you'll need to take care of paperwork such as Self-Assessment Tax Returns.

What's more, HMRC's in the middle of a huge crackdown on “false self-employment” - with Pimlico Plumbers itself right in the middle of it. Pimlico was hit by a court ruling that said it'd been misclassifying its employees as self-employed. The company is currently appealing against that decision. Meanwhile, large parts of the industry - and the “gig economy” as a whole - are watching closely to see how this all turns out.

What's clear to see is that there are opportunities for big money in the building trade. RIFT has been helping people from all over the industry since 1999, solving their tax return problems and claim their tax rebates. We're the leading tax experts in the UK, and we specialise in keeping the taxman honest. Whatever your tax problems or questions, talk to RIFT.