What is a Construction Laborer?

On a construction site, a construction laborer is someone who assists skilled workers. Residential housing, commercial sites, tunnels, highways, and demolition jobs are all places where laborers can be found. Construction laborer is a common entry-level position for those interested in a career in the construction industry.

In general, regardless of the field, a construction laborer’s job is a physically demanding one. Laborers are frequently required to be the first workers on the job site and the last to leave following clean-up, so they must have not only physical strength but also good balance, eye-hand coordination, and stamina. Laborers can specialize in a single trade, such as masonry, or perform a wide range of tasks. This is common in residential construction, where a laborer may help with everything from site excavation to finish cabinetry.

Many construction labor jobs have no specific skill set or education requirements, so those looking for work as a construction laborer should be aware of this. As the need arises, skills are acquired on the job. A construction laborer may be enlisted to measure, use a circular saw, nail, or hold wood in place while it is being attached if a carpenter is responsible for attaching plywood siding over the frame work of a house but is unable to do so alone.

Those who are working in conjunction with an apprentice program are exempt from this rule. An apprenticeship is a two- to four-year program that aims to transform an unskilled construction laborer into a professional in their chosen trade through a combination of on-the-job training, classroom work, and exams. A common requirement of a carpenter’s apprentice program, for example, is that all applicants have completed high school. Furthermore, some jobs, such as high-end, finish cabinetry jobs that require precision and detail, require construction laborers to have some level of skill.

A typical day for a construction laborer might include laying out power tools and materials, such as a cement mixer, wood flooring, or joint compound, to prepare the worksite for skilled workers; unloading delivered materials, such as lumber, sheetrock, or cement bags; and cleaning, both during a specific job to keep the work area safe and at the end of the day. In demolition and construction, the laborer may also assist more skilled workers. When the day is done, laborers can expect to be exhausted and a little dirty.

In most places, a construction laborer works 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday. Saturday overtime is not uncommon, especially in jobs with tight deadlines. In the construction field, the day usually starts early, though this varies depending on the weather. Workers constructing houses in the desert, for example, can expect the day to begin well before sunrise. To avoid inconveniencing daytime commuters and to ensure worker safety, highway and railroad jobs frequently offer night shifts.

Those looking for work as a construction laborer can do so in a variety of ways. The most common method is to go to the nearest construction site and inquire about openings. Laborers are frequently sent out on one-day and longer-term assignments employment agencies. Apprentices who train and work through an apprenticeship program may be able to find their first jobs through their school.