Construction Laborers and Helpers

Career, Salary and Education Information

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a construction laborer with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Construction Laborer Jobs

  • Concrete Construction-Foreman / Finishers - Schepers Concrete Construction LLC - Grand Rapids, MI

    Inexperienced Starting pay 14.00 per hour with no experience. Requirements; 1. Pass drug screening 2. Valid driver license 3. Reliable

  • Pipelayers & Laborers - KLE Construction, LLC - Williston, ND

    You possess the ability to perform your work with limited direction and have the knowledge of how to prepare, install and maintain both the work as

  • Heavy Equipment Operator - KLE Construction, LLC - Williston, ND

    You possess the ability to perform your work with limited direction and have

See all Construction Laborer jobs

Top 3 Construction Helper Jobs

  • Press Helper II THDF (Unilin US MDF) - Mohawk Industries - Mount Gilead, NC

    Our industry-leading innovation has yielded products and technologies that differentiate our brands in the marketplace and satisfy all remodeling and

  • Glass Installer Helper/Apprentice - Majestic Kitchen & Bath Creations - Youngsville, NC

    Basic hand tool and measuring experience needed. • Previous experience in the construction/building

  • General Labor Installation helper. - Rightline Warehouse Solutions - Macedonia, OH

    Keep up with housekeeping to ensure safe working environment. Qualifications and Skills · Must have written and verbal skills in English · Must

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What Construction Laborers and Helpers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

Duties of Construction Laborers and Helpers

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.

Construction laborers, also referred to as construction craft laborers, perform a wide variety of construction-related activities during all phases of construction. Many laborers spend their time preparing and cleaning up construction sites, using tools such as shovels and brooms. Other workers, such as those on road crews, may specialize and learn to control traffic patterns and operate pavement breakers, jackhammers, earth tampers, or surveying equipment.

With special training, laborers may help transport and use explosives or run hydraulic boring machines to dig out tunnels. They may learn to use lasers to place pipes and to use computers to control robotic pipe cutters. They may become certified to remove asbestos, lead, or chemicals.

Helpers assist construction craftworkers, such as electricians and carpenters, with a variety of tasks. They may carry tools and materials or help set up equipment. For example, many helpers work with cement masons to move and set the forms that determine the shape of poured concrete. Many other helpers assist with taking apart equipment, cleaning up sites, and disposing of waste, as well as helping with any other needs of craftworkers.

Many construction trades have helpers who assist craftworkers. The following trades have associated helpers:

Work Environment for Construction Laborers and Helpers[About this section] [To Top]

Construction laborers and helpers hold about 1.4 million jobs. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up construction laborers and helpers is distributed as follows:

Construction laborers 1,216,700
Helpers—electricians 73,200
Helpers—pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters 55,500
Helpers—carpenters 36,700
Helpers—brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters 24,100
Helpers, construction trades, all other 22,100
Helpers—painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons 10,900
Helpers—roofers 10,200

The largest employers of construction laborers and helpers are as follows:

Specialty trade contractors 35%
Self-employed workers 21
Construction of buildings 18
Heavy and civil engineering construction 14
Temporary help services 3

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.

Injuries and Illnesses for Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Workers may experience cuts from materials and tools, fatal and nonfatal falls from ladders and scaffolding, and burns from chemicals or equipment. Some jobs expose workers to harmful materials, fumes, or odors, or to dangerous machinery. Workers may also experience muscle fatigue and injuries related to lifting and carrying heavy materials.

Although they face similar hazards to construction laborers, some construction helpers experience a rate of injuries and illnesses that is closer to the national average. The helpers of carpenters, electricians, and pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters, however, have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.

Construction Laborer and Helper Work Schedules

Like many construction workers, most laborers and helpers work full time. Although they must sometimes stop work because of bad weather, they may work overtime to meet deadlines. Laborers and helpers on highway and bridge projects may need to work overnight to avoid causing major traffic disruptions. In some parts of the country, construction laborers and helpers may work only during certain seasons. For example, in northern climates, cold weather frequently disrupts construction activity in the winter.

About 1 in 4 construction laborers are self-employed. In contrast, very few helpers are self-employed.

How to Become a Construction Laborer or Helper[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Construction Laborers and Helpers near you!

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.

Education for Construction Laborers and Helpers

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 Laborer and Helper Training

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.

Although the majority of construction laborers and helpers learn by assisting experienced workers, some construction laborers may opt for apprenticeship programs. These programs generally include 2 to 4 years of technical instruction and OJT. The Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) requires a combination of OJT and related classroom instruction in such areas as signaling, blueprint reading, using proper tools and equipment, and following health and safety procedures. The remainder of the curriculum consists of specialized training in one of these eight areas:

  • Building construction
  • Demolition and deconstruction
  • Environmental remediation
  • Road and utility construction
  • Tunneling
  • Masonry
  • Landscaping
  • Pipeline construction

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Construction Laborers and Helpers

Laborers who remove hazardous materials (hazmat) must meet the federal and state requirements for hazardous materials removal workers.

Depending on the work they do, laborers may need specific certifications, which may be attained through LIUNA. Rigging and scaffold building are commonly attained certifications. Certification can help workers prove that they have the knowledge to perform more complex tasks.

Advancement for Construction Laborers and Helpers

Through experience and training, construction laborers and helpers can advance into positions that involve more complex tasks. For example, laborers may earn certifications in welding, erecting scaffolding, or finishing concrete, and then spend more time performing those activities. Similarly, helpers sometimes move into construction craft occupations after gaining experience in the field. For example, experience as an electrician's helper may lead someone to becoming an apprentice electrician.

Important Qualities for Construction Laborers and Helpers

Color vision. Construction laborers and helpers may need to be able to distinguish colors to do their job. For example, an electrician's helper must be able to distinguish different colors of wire to help the lead electrician.

Math skills. Construction laborers and some helpers need to perform basic math calculations while measuring on jobsites or assisting a surveying crew.

Mechanical skills. Construction laborers are frequently required to operate and maintain equipment, such as jackhammers.

Physical stamina. Construction laborers and helpers must have the endurance to perform strenuous tasks throughout the day. Highway laborers, for example, spend hours on their feet—often in hot temperatures—with few breaks.

Physical strength. Construction laborers and helpers must often lift heavy materials or equipment. For example, cement mason helpers must move cinder blocks, which typically weigh more than 40 pounds each.

Construction Laborer and Helper Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for construction laborers and helpers is $32,230. 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 $21,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $59,820.

Median annual wages for construction laborers and helpers are as follows:

Construction laborers $33,430
Helpers—brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters 30,570
Helpers—electricians 29,530
Helpers, construction trades, all other 29,270
Helpers—pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters 29,030
Helpers—carpenters 28,810
Helpers—roofers 27,670
Helpers—painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons 27,310

The median annual wages for construction laborers and helpers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Heavy and civil engineering construction $35,050
Construction of buildings 33,540
Specialty trade contractors 31,150
Temporary help services 25,260

The starting pay for most apprentices is usually about 60 percent of what fully trained laborers make. Apprentices receive pay increases as they learn more skills.

Like many construction workers, most construction laborers and helpers work full time. Although they sometimes stop work because of bad weather, they may work overtime to meet deadlines. Laborers and helpers on highway and bridge projects may need to work overnight to avoid causing major traffic disruptions. In some parts of the country, construction laborers and helpers may work only during certain seasons. For example, in northern climates, cold weather frequently disrupts construction activity in the winter.

About 1 in 4 construction laborers are self-employed. In contrast, very few helpers are self-employed.

Job Outlook for Construction Laborers and Helpers[About this section] [To Top]

Overall employment of construction laborers and helpers is projected to grow 13 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment of construction laborers is projected to grow 13 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. 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.

Although employment growth of specific types of helpers is expected to vary (see table below), overall demand for helpers is expected to be driven by the construction of homes, schools, office buildings, factories, and power plants.

See all construction jobs.

Job Prospects for Construction Laborers and Helpers

Because of the large size of these combined occupations and their relatively high turnover, job prospects should be favorable.

Employment of construction laborers and helpers is especially sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. On the one hand, workers in these trades may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, during peak periods of building activity some areas may require additional number of these workers.

Employment projections data for Construction Laborers and Helpers, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Construction laborers and helpers 1,449,400 1,632,800 13 183,400
  Construction laborers 1,216,700 1,370,000 13 153,300
  Helpers—brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters 24,100 27,000 12 2,900
  Helpers—carpenters 36,700 41,400 13 4,700
  Helpers—electricians 73,200 80,900 11 7,700
  Helpers—painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons 10,900 11,400 4 500
  Helpers—pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters 55,500 65,800 19 10,300
  Helpers—roofers 10,200 11,500 12 1,300
  Helpers, all other construction trades 22,100 24,800 12 2,700


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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