Construction Laborer Job Description and Salary Information
If you're interested in a job working in construction, then you've made a smart choice. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for construction laborers and helpers is strong. Employment is projected to grow by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for all occupations in the United States. The BLS estimated that there were 1,449,400 jobs in this category in 2016. About 1 in 4 construction laborers were self-employed in 2016.
Laborers and helpers work in all fields of construction, and demand for these workers should mirror the level of overall construction activity nationally, which is very robust given the rebuilding required after hurricane and fire damage. If Congress passes an infrastructure bill, then growth in employment and salaries will be even more pronounced.
Construction Laborer Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction laborers earned an average of $33,450 a year in 2017 and an average of $16.08 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,930, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $60,860.
The states with the highest annual salary for construction laborers were reported in Illinois - $57,310, Hawaii - $56,240, Massachusetts - $53,230, New Jersey - $52,220, and Alaska $50,450. Most construction laborers and helpers work full-time.
Even though there is a high demand for laborers, there are other skilled construction jobs that pay higher wages. These occupations include electricians, plumbers, brick masons, material moving machine operators, and carpenters.
Construction Laborer and Helper Job Description
Construction laborers and helpers carry out a variety of physical tasks necessary on building sites. They help to clear out debris from structures under construction or being torn down, unload and carry building materials to appropriate locations on the site, position and secure materials within structures, pour foundations, and operate heavy and light equipment. All construction laborers work directly under the supervision of a construction foreman and are required to follow the building plans created by architects.
Some laborers specialize as helpers and assist skilled workers in specific phases of construction, such as carpentry, bricklaying, roofing, pipefitting, and interior and exterior painting.
Construction laborers work on many different building sites, including residential buildings; commercial buildings; bridges; tunnels; roads; pipelines; demolition projects, and waste removal.
Education and Training
There are no formal academic requirements for those interested in entering the construction field. And, the vast majority of construction laborers can find jobs without any formal training. If you're a beginning laborer, typically you'll be partnered with a more seasoned construction worker to receive on the job training. That said, classes in high school mathematics and shop classes that teach blueprint reading (as well as the use of tools) can be helpful.
Participation in an apprentice program and receiving an associate's degree (or higher) can elevate your wages and enhance your chances for advancement. For example, if you're going to be working on union jobs, The Laborers International Union of North America requires 160 hours of training before workers are allowed to work on a job site. During the apprenticeship program, workers learn basic construction skills, such as communication, blueprint reading, proper tool and equipment use, and health and safety policies and procedures.
All this training will ultimately advance your career and increase your earning potential.