Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.
What they do
Construction laborers and helpers typically do the following:
- Clean and prepare construction sites by removing debris and possible hazards
- Load or unload building materials to be used in construction
- Build or take apart bracing, scaffolding, and temporary structures
- Dig trenches, backfill holes, or compact earth to prepare for construction
- Operate or tend equipment and machines used in construction
- Follow construction plans and instructions from supervisors or more experienced workers
- Assist craftworkers with their duties
Construction laborers and helpers work on almost all construction sites, performing a wide range of tasks varying in complexity from very easy to extremely difficult and hazardous.
Most construction laborers and helpers perform physically demanding work. Some work at great heights or outdoors in all weather conditions; others may be required to work in tunnels. They must use earplugs around loud equipment and wear gloves, safety glasses, and other protective gear.
How to become a Construction Laborer or Helper
Construction laborers and helpers learn their trade through on-the-job training (OJT). The length of training depends on the employer and the specialization. Formal education is not typically required.
Although formal education is not typically required for most positions, helpers of electricians and helpers of pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters typically need a high school diploma. High school classes in mathematics, blueprint reading, welding, and other vocational subjects can be helpful.
Construction laborers and helpers typically learn through OJT after being hired by a construction contractor. Workers usually learn by performing tasks under the guidance of experienced workers.
The median annual wage for construction laborers and helpers was $36,000 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,420, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,100.
Overall employment of construction laborers and helpers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
Construction laborers work in all fields of construction, and demand for laborers should mirror the level of overall construction activity. Repairing and replacing the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and water lines, may result in steady demand for laborers. The increased use of prefabricated components, such as panels and modular rooms that are made offsite, will create a need for laborers in some areas to assemble them onsite.
Similar Job Titles
Adobe Layer Helpers, Bituminous Asphalt Technician, Construction Laborer, Construction Worker, Drop Crew Laborer, Equipment Operator (EO), Form Setter, Post Framer, Scaffolding Operator, Site Work Laborer, Toolman, Construction Trench Digger, Construction Craft Laborer, Electrical Sign Wirer Helper, Firebrick Layer Helper
Terrazzo Workers and Finishers; Helpers-Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters; Helpers-Carpenters; Rock Splitters, Quarry; Cleaner of Vehicles and Equipment
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Subcontractors Association - The ASA promotes the rights and interests of subcontractors, specialty contractors and suppliers by building strength in community through education, advocacy, networking and professional growth. Members have access to a plethora of on-demand videos, manuals, technical papers, and more.
- Associated Builders and Contractors - ABC's membership represents all specialties within the U.S. construction industry and is comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors. Students and those wishing a career in construction will find an abundance of education and craft training information and resources.
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers - This organization represents 775,000 active members and retirees who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government.
- Laborers' International Union of North America - LIUNA members are a skilled and experienced union workforce trained to work safely in the construction and energy industries. Members also work in every area of the energy sector, helping to build solar plants, wind farms, and natural gas and oil pipelines, as well as, being skilled in the maintenance of nuclear and coal power plant facilities. Click here to review this organization’s training and education
- National Center for Construction Education and Research - The mission of this organization is simple, to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals. For those in-training or learning in the field, NCCEAR has competency-based curricula with measurable objectives.
- The Associated General Contractors of America - This association is far reaching with over 27,000 firms, including more than 7,000 of America’s leading general contractors, nearly 9,000 specialty-contracting firms and almost 11,000 service providers and suppliers belong to the association through its nationwide network of chapters. A number of educational programs designed to enhance career development opportunities for individuals and improve the performance of construction companies and the industry are offered. As well, 170 student chapters across the country provide young professionals with an opportunity to observe and develop their skills with current industry leaders.
Magazines and Publications
Construction laborers are skilled workers who do much of the physically demanding labor at all kinds of construction projects, from excavation to building and demolition. Construction laborers use a variety of hand and power tools to hammer, lift, saw, and measure materials. Depending on the specialty of their employer, laborers might prepare a worksite, dig trenches, mix and place concrete, or even work with hazardous materials or explosives. Clean-up is usually in the job description. In different phases of construction, laborers assist other trades workers, and may need to interpret plans or specifications to set work priorities. They may also direct traffic around a work area to keep other workers safe. But all construction laborers can expect to do repetitive, physically demanding work— with noise, fumes, and dangers that require safety gear such as hard hats, gloves, face masks, ear protectors, and eyewear. Some employers require a high school diploma, but related work experience, strength, reliability, and safety are often more important to getting hired in this field.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org