Laborer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Illustration of laborer carrying 2x4 lumber. Text reads:

A Laborer, or General Laborer, is responsible for performing various tasks to aid daily operations at a construction site. Their duties include loading and unloading tools or raw materials, assembling scaffolding or other pieces of equipment and digging or filling in pits throughout the construction process.

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Laborer duties and responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a laborer are all geared toward maintaining a clean, safe and efficient construction site while also supporting the overall project. The list of duties and responsibilities for a laborer on any given day may include the following: 

  • Cleaning and preparing construction sites.

  • Loading and unloading materials and equipment.

  • Building and taking down scaffolding and temporary structures.

  • Digging trenches, compacting earth and backfilling holes.

  • Operating and tending machinery and heavy equipment.

  • Following instructions from supervisors and implementing construction plans.

  • Assisting skilled tradespeople in their duties.

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Laborer Job Description Examples

What does a laborer do?

Laborers typically work for construction companies or contractors to perform physical labor throughout the building process. They work closely with a team of Laborers and divide up tasks to complete them by set deadlines. Their job is to review blueprints, take measurements and use tools like shovels, jackhammers, concrete mixers or nail guns to carry out specific jobs. They may also be responsible for directing traffic during roadway construction and operating heavy machinery.

Laborer job description intro paragraph

When writing a Laborer job description, start by introducing the job and company to prospective Laborers. Briefly highlight the work environment, what sets your company apart and why the role is important to your company.

For example:

“Company ABC is looking for a hardworking, motivated Laborer to join our team. If hired, you’ll be an integral part of our crew, helping support construction workers on underground utility construction projects.

Here at Company ABC, we offer excellent pay, great benefits and career advancement opportunities. We’re proud to have a 4.5 star rating on Indeed Company Pages and an above average ​​Work Happiness Score from our employees. Apply today if this sounds like a great fit for you!”

Laborer skills and qualifications

Laborers must exhibit a specific set of qualifications and skills in the performance of their daily duties. While the job is largely physical, there is also a range of mental skills and knowledge a good laborer must possess. A few of these important qualities and skills can include:

  • Color vision: Laborers must be able to distinguish color clearly to perform their duties, such as knowing which colors of wire an electrician needs.

  • Mathematics: Laborers have to perform calculations every day. Math skills that are vital to laborers include algebra and trigonometry, among others.

  • Mechanical acuity: Laborers also must maintain and operate heavy equipment and machinery, from forklifts to jackhammers and more.

  • Stamina and endurance: To perform their very physical job, laborers have to conduct strenuous and physically demanding tasks for long hours and in extreme environmental conditions.

  • Strength: The lifting duties involved in the job of a laborer often require lifting and carrying weights in excess of 50 pounds.

Laborer salary expectations

On average, laborers in the United States make about $12.83 per hour. The bottom range of the salary for brand-new laborers is roughly the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. At the high end of the range, the most experienced laborers who possess full qualifications and a variety of certifications can make as much as $24.20 per hour.

Laborer education and training requirements

For most laborer positions, a formal education is not generally required. However, a high school diploma is often needed to provide the basic math skills required for the job. In addition, those who work as assistants to professional tradespeople and craftspeople must have a high school education, which vocational-technical courses can bolster to teach blueprint reading, carpentry and welding. Those laborers who will be working with hazmat will need to be licensed in handling such materials. Your state can sometimes require other certifications for specific duties such as rigging, scaffold building and other complex tasks.

Laborer experience requirements

For the most part, experience isn’t required to become a laborer. As with any job, possessing experience can show a legacy of reliability and the ability to apply the necessary skills to perform the tasks required. This is especially true if your job history shows long-term employment, which demonstrates loyalty. Many laborers get their skills from on-the-job training, and if you have experience, employers will feel confident that they won’t have to spend as much time training you to perform the necessary duties at hand.

Job description samples for similar positions

Using this sample job description for laborers as a guide should help you with your own requirements. If it doesn’t fit and you can’t successfully modify it, consider one of these alternate and similar positions to use instead:

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Frequently asked questions about Laborers

 

What is the difference between a Laborer and a Tradesperson?

Laborers and Tradespeople both work on construction sites to complete tasks throughout the building process. However, they differ in their level of seniority and job duties. For example, a Tradesperson typically holds a degree from a trade school and obtains specialties working as a Blacksmith, Landscaper, Plumber, Heavy Equipment Operator, Welder or another specialty. In contrast, Laborers typically need a high school diploma or GED. 

Due to their differences in education, Tradespeople complete complex tasks like fusing pipes together, or operating cranes. In contrast, Laborers unload materials and transport them to site locations for Tradespeople to use in their job.

 

What are the daily duties of a Laborer?

On a typical day, a Laborer starts by arriving at their construction site and receiving their assignments from the Site Supervisor. Throughout the day, they work with other Laborers to unload raw materials from work trucks, dig and fill trenches, move large slabs of wood, concrete or piping and assemble scaffolding or makeshift walkways. They take short breaks throughout their shift to prevent fatigue and eat lunch to maintain their energy levels. After construction ends for the day, Laborers help load tools and other items back into work trucks and clean the site of any debris.

 

What qualities make a good Laborer?

A good Laborer is someone who is physically fit. This is important as Laborers need to be able to lift and carry building materials and use heavy tools and equipment to dig or fill in holes. They also need to have proficient knowledge in mathematics to make measurements and complete other precision tasks. Further, a good Laborer enjoys working as part of a team which enables them to get along with their coworkers and helps them to complete tasks ahead of deadlines. 

A good Laborer also has a commitment to workplace safety. This quality ensures that they adhere to construction safety standards, wear the correct safety equipment and use caution when operating heavy machinery.

 

Who does a Laborer report to?

A Laborer typically reports to the Construction Site Supervisor to receive daily tasks and deadline details. Supervisor also provides Laborers with their work schedule and act as a point of communication for them when they need to call in sick. In the absence of a Supervisor, Laborers may report to the Foreman or General Foreman of a construction site to receive directions and guidance about their job duties.

Job Description Examples

Need help writing a job description for a specific role? Use these job description examples to create your next great job posting. Or if you’re ready to hire, post your job on Indeed.

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