Job Description

Construction sites are extremely busy areas with a great deal of prep work and clean up needed; construction laborers and construction helpers perform this physically demanding work.

Construction laborers and construction helpers remove any debris and potential hazards and unload and prepare tools and other supplies. Part of the preparation involves building or disassembling things such as bracing, barricades, forms, scaffolding, and temporary structures. Construction helpers may also dig trenches or fill holes. A construction helper may use tools ranging from a simple broom to a jackhammer, explosives, or laser beam equipment.

Construction laborers and construction helpers offer assistance to multiple craftworkers. Craftworkers who generally have helpers include: brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, carpenters, electricians, painters, pipelayers, plumbers and roofers.

Most construction laborers are generalist, but they may also specialize in one or many of the following areas: building homes and facilities, tearing down buildings, removing hazardous materials, building highways and roads, or digging tunnels and mine shafts. Some construction laborers become certified to remove asbestos, lead, or chemicals.

Education and Certifications

No formal education requirements exist for construction laborers and helpers, and most learn their trade through on-the-job training. Some individuals, however, opt to begin their construction laborer career through a formal apprenticeship program, which includes two to four years of technical instruction and on-the-job training.

Construction laborers and construction workers who handle hazardous materials need a federal hazmat license.

Construction laborers and helpers may need certifications, depending on the specific work they do. They may earn any of the following certifications: asbestos, energy auditor, lead, operators qualification for pipeline, OSHA 10/or 30 hour construction safety certification, radiological worker, rough terrain forklift operation, scaffold user and builder, signal person qualifications, weatherization technician installer and supervisor, welder, work zone safety technician, flagger and supervisor.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Advancement becomes more likely for construction laborers and helpers who earn certifications in different areas requiring specialized knowledge. Construction laborers and helpers may also advance to construction craft occupations.

Essential Career Information

  • $33,450 - Median pay, 2017
  • $21,930 - Wage of lowest 10 percent, 2017
  • $60,860 - Wage of the highest 10 percent, 2017
  • 1,449,400 - Number of jobs, 2016
  • 12% - Employment growth forecast, 2016
  • Entry-level education requirements - On-the-job training