Career Development

What is General Labor? Definition and 22 Jobs to Consider

January 5, 2021

The general labor field encompasses a wide range of positions. If you're interested in becoming a general laborer, understanding the jobs available can help you narrow down the right career path for you. In this article, we define general labor, outline how to get a general labor job and list 22 jobs to consider in this field.

What is general labor?

General labor is any physical job with non-skilled, hands-on tasks, such as cleaning, moving or landscaping. A laborer makes an average national salary of $27,310 per year.

Employees in this career field can find themselves in a variety of environments both indoor and outdoor. Because of this, a general laborers' job responsibilities will vary by their worksite. For example, a general laborer working in a warehouse may have to move and unload boxes, a general laborer working in a construction site may have to use tools and build structures and a landscaper who works in various gardens may have to mow lawns, plant flowers or rake leaves.

Related: Learn About Being a Laborer

How to get a general labor job

Since there are several jobs within the general labor field, the steps to attaining one of these positions can vary. Here are the basic steps for becoming a general laborer:

  1. Gain high school experience
  2. Earn your high school diploma
  3. Improve your skills
  4. Gain experience
  5. Get certified
  6. Create a resume and apply for a job

1. Gain high school experience

High school is a great place to gain knowledge and improve your skills in the general labor field. Depending on the field of interest, consider taking a welding, physics or mechanical drawing class. Mathematical classes can also help in your career as a general laborer.

2. Earn your high school diploma

Though general laborer positions don't typically have minimum education requirements, some employers prefer candidates with a high school diploma or GED. Complete either to improve your chances of getting a job in this career field.

3. Improve your skills

Before you apply for a job, take the time to sharpen your skills in this field by practicing them or taking online classes. Having specialized skills, in particular, can help you attain a job more easily. Here are some common skills for general laborers:

  • Physical strength. Many general labor jobs require physical stamina, balance and strength to move heavy tools, equipment and machinery. Similarly, endurance helps you stand for long periods in this profession.

  • Communication skills. General laborers in all environments use their communication skills to relay information to their team members. This ensures everyone is aware of the same project guidelines and deadlines and fosters a sense of collaboration.

  • Technical skills. Since every job requires different tools and machines, the technical skills you need as a general laborer depend on the position you're interested in. For example, some general laborers need technical skills to operate computerized machinery.

  • Teamwork skills. General laborers use their teamwork ability to effectively collaborate with their co-workers and other members of their team. This is especially useful when they're working on the same project such as the construction of a new building.

4. Gain experience

The more experience you gain, the easier it can be for you to advance in your field. Consider volunteering for an organization that aligns with the type of general labor you're interested in.

Once you get a job, you'll likely have on-the-job training or an apprenticeship, which typically lasts a few weeks to a few months. Training and apprenticeships can help you learn more about your craft and develop your skills for the future. You can also gain experience by learning a specific trade or skill through a vocational program or apprenticeship program outside of the one offered by your prospective employer.

5. Get certified

Another way to gain experience is to obtain a laborer certification. Though not required, a certification can help your resume stand out to hiring managers by showcasing your skills and qualifications. A certification can also help you gain knowledge and advance in your current position. Some laborer certifications include the Certified Construction Manager certification and the National Association of Safety Professionals certifications.

6. Create a resume and apply for a job

Once you've found a job you're interested in, create a resume that highlights your education, skills and any amount of experience you have. If you don't have any professional experience, you can list volunteer experience that's relevant to the job you're applying for. Be sure to use keywords listed on the job posting and within the description. Once you've found a job and created a resume tailored to it, submit your application. If a hiring manager is interested in you as a potential candidate, they may reach out to you for an interview.

Related: General Laborer Resume Samples

General labor jobs

The general labor field encompasses several roles and because of this, it's important to consider what many of them are and what each job consists of. Here is a list of 22 general labor jobs, their national average salaries and primary duties:

National average salary: $24,835 per year

Primary duties: Also known as janitors, custodians clean buildings by various methods including sweeping, mopping, picking up trash and vacuuming. They also clean bathrooms and ensure the building is secure by closing doors and windows. Custodians use a variety of equipment and cleaning supplies to assist in their tasks such as brooms and mops.

Related: Learn About Being a Custodian

National average salary: $25,730 per year

Primary duties: A packer cleans shipping containers and labels and packs items. Packers use their attention to detail to handle packages with care and their organizational skills to pack the items into their proper shipping containers. Some of their other responsibilities include stacking goods, following instructions and cleaning shipping containers.

National average salary: $26,166 per year

Primary duties: Farm laborers care for animals and crops by performing a variety of tasks. Some of their responsibilities include fertilizing, plowing, inspecting and picking crops. Farm laborers also operate farm machinery, spray fertilizer and move greenery through the use of tractors or wheelbarrows.

National average salary: $26,270 per year

Primary duties: Gardeners tend to, design, cultivate and monitor the health of a garden. Their responsibilities include trimming trees, mowing lawns, watering plants, weeding gardens and lawns and keeping walkways free from debris. Gardeners strive to maintain beautiful greenery by maintaining its upkeep.

National average salary: [$26,374 per year](https://www.indeed.com/career/production-worker/salaries)

Primary duties: Production workers operate factory or warehouse equipment. They also prepare items for distribution and ensure all the equipment is maintained. Production workers do this by checking equipment product parts to ensure it's working properly.

Related: Learn About Being a Production Worker

National average salary: $29,786 per year

Primary duties: Forklift operators operate industrial trucks that load and unload items. These items are then transported to various locations including loading docks and storage facilities. Forklift operators also stack and count merchandise.

Related: Learn About Being a Forklift Operator

National average salary: $29,827 per year

Primary duties: Also known as groundskeepers, landscape technicians care and maintain for outdoor spaces such as gardens or parks and indoor spaces with outdoor greenery such as greenhouses. They also perform various gardening tasks including watering plants, fertilizing lawns or removing litter.

National average salary: $30,909 per year

Primary duties: Package handlers load and unload boxes to and from warehouse delivery trucks. Package handlers use their physical strength to lift, push and handle packages of all weights. They use their attention to detail to handle packages and abide by company policies.

National average salary: $31,262 per year

Primary duties: Pool technicians maintain the cleanliness and safety of public swimming pools by cleaning the water and filters and inspecting pools for damage. They also report issues with water quality, maintain stock records, fix pool lights and evaluate the work of their staff.

National average salary: $31,678 per year

Primary duties: Warehouse workers perform several tasks within a warehouse facility. They use their inventory control skills to receive and process incoming products, perform data entry, ship orders and organize various stock.

Related: Learn About Being a Warehouse Worker

National average salary: $32,302 per year

Primary duties: Construction workers build various structures on construction sites. They operate equipment and machinery such as saws and concrete millers, remove debris from sites, unload materials, assemble scaffolding and assist other workers such as contractors and painters among their other responsibilities.

Related: Learn About Being a Construction Worker

National average salary: $35,443 per year

Primary duties: Maintenance specialists maintain and repair equipment, machines and buildings. They use their knowledge of building systems to perform various duties including repairing electrical systems, performing plumbing work and maintaining air conditioning systems.

National average salary: $35,651 per year

Primary duties: Irrigation technicians install and maintain an irrigation system and related equipment such as pumps and valves. Their duties ensure outdoor spaces such as parks or gardens are well-watered.

14. Welder

National average salary: $37,190 per year

Primary duties: A welder fuses various materials together by operating machines. They also plan layouts, test welding surfaces, assemble metal structures and use their math skills to interpret blueprints and various sketches.

Related: Learn About Being a Welder

National average salary: $43,493 per year

Primary duties: Arborists have knowledge of various tree species and how to properly care for them. They trim and prune trees and shrubs and work to maintain their health. Arborists also create the designs for park layouts and have knowledge of cable-bracing and various repair techniques.

National average salary: $43,826 per year

Primary duties: Tree climbers use various equipment such as climbing hooks or climbing ladders to ascend a tree. Once they've reached their worksite, they use climbing and rigging techniques to clear branches from power lines and cut excess or dead branches.

National average salary: $44,907 per year

Primary duties: Crew foremen lead and coordinate the activities of various workers responsible for finding water lines and meters in need of repair or installation. They also train, assign and schedule their employees and ensure they meet project deadlines and guidelines.

National average salary: $45,053 per year

Primary duties: Carpenters construct and install various building materials and structures. Their job can find them working on bridges, highways or kitchen cabinets. A carpenter displays manual dexterity and uses their physical abilities to lift and cut various materials throughout their shift.

Related: Learn About Being a Carpenter

National average salary: $51,896 per year

Primary duties: Plumbers install plumbing systems used for sewage, drainage or potable water purposes. They also ensure these systems are in proper working order, interpret blueprints and abide by building specifications. Some of their other responsibilities include installing dishwashers, pipe systems and water heaters.

Related: Learn About Being a Plumber

National average salary: $52,354 per year

Primary duties: Industrial electricians install and maintain industrial electrical equipment and related controls. They adhere to safety protocols and electrical codes and perform inspections. Industrial electricians use a combination of problem-solving, analytical and critical-thinking skills to meet their job responsibilities.

National average salary: $60,799 per year

Primary duties: A shop foreman is a supervisory position that involves planning, organizing and controlling shop or plant operations. They also order supplies, monitor work activity and hire new employees. When new employees are hired, shop foremen ensure they are properly trained.

National average salary: $63,565 per year

Primary duties: Electrical foremen are electricians with supervisory responsibilities. They oversee large electrical projects, supervise personnel, read blueprints and ensure quality standards are met. Electrical foremen also handle customer relations.

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