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Become A Construction Worker

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Working As A Construction Worker

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Repetitive

  • $32,900

    Average Salary

What Does A Construction Worker Do

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

Duties

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. Although many of the tasks they perform require some training and experience, most tasks can be learned quickly. 

Construction laborers, are 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, for example, 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:

  • Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons, and tile and marble setters
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons
  • Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
  • Roofers

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How To Become A Construction Worker

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

Although formal education is not typically required, high school classes in mathematics, blueprint reading, welding, and other vocational subjects can be helpful.

To receive further education, some workers attend a trade school or community college.

Training

Construction laborers and helpers learn through OJT after being hired by a construction contractor. Workers typically gain experience 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 opt for apprenticeship programs. Programs generally include 2 to 4 years of technical instruction and OJT. The Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) requires a minimum of 4,000 hours of OJT, accompanied by 300 hours of related 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

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs, which usually have only a basic age qualification—age 18 or older—for entrance. Apprentices must obtain a high school diploma or equivalent before completing their apprenticeship. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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

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 to becoming an apprentice electrician.

Important Qualities

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.

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Construction Worker jobs

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Construction Worker Demographics

Gender

Male

90.6%

Female

7.9%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

77.8%

Hispanic or Latino

14.3%

Asian

6.0%

Unknown

1.5%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

71.2%

French

4.8%

German

3.1%

Portuguese

2.9%

Russian

2.8%

Chinese

2.2%

Arabic

2.2%

Polish

1.4%

Mandarin

1.0%

Greek

1.0%

Italian

1.0%

Japanese

1.0%

Carrier

0.9%

Hmong

0.7%

Korean

0.7%

Ukrainian

0.7%

Hebrew

0.7%

Dakota

0.7%

Hindi

0.5%

Swahili

0.3%
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Construction Worker Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

9.7%

Mississippi State University

6.9%

Iowa State University

6.0%

West Virginia University

5.8%

Brigham Young University

5.8%

Houston Community College

5.6%

Universal Technical Institute

5.4%

Utah State University

5.0%

Utah Valley University

5.0%

Kirkwood Community College

4.8%

Liberty University

4.6%

University of Alabama

4.4%

University of Northern Iowa

4.4%

Texas Tech University

4.4%

Essex County College

4.0%

Kansas State University

3.6%

Ashford University

3.6%

Fresno City College

3.6%

Temple University

3.4%

Washington State University

3.4%
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Majors

Business

21.7%

Criminal Justice

9.3%

General Studies

8.0%

Precision Metal Working

5.7%

Automotive Technology

5.7%

Computer Science

4.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.3%

Mechanical Engineering

4.2%

Psychology

3.8%

Electrical Engineering

3.6%

Construction Management

3.5%

Kinesiology

3.4%

Education

3.3%

Civil Engineering

3.2%

Biology

3.1%

Accounting

2.9%

Graphic Design

2.6%

Communication

2.5%

Management

2.4%

Liberal Arts

2.3%
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Degrees

Other

44.3%

Bachelors

28.9%

Associate

13.7%

Certificate

6.9%

Masters

3.2%

Diploma

2.2%

License

0.6%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Real Construction Worker Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Construction Worker Test-DOL Atlanta Atlanta, GA Jun 13, 2011 $70,000
Construction and Related Workers, All Other* M V Coastal, Inc. Edgartown, MA May 07, 2013 $67,954
1St. Line Sups/Mgrs of Construction + Extraction Workers Brand Scaffold Building Inc. Long Beach, CA Mar 23, 2011 $56,975
Pipelayer/Construction Worker M.S.P. Construction Corporation Newark, NJ Dec 20, 2016 $54,617
Construction Worker I S & B Construction, LLC MO Aug 01, 2012 $53,344
Construction Worker I North Star Construction and Engineering, Inc. CA Apr 01, 2012 $48,961
Construction and Related Worker JNS Limited Liability Limited Partnership Phoenix, AZ Dec 14, 2011 $45,914
Construction and Related Worker JNS Limited Liability Limited Partnership Phoenix, AZ Dec 20, 2011 $45,914
Construction Worker Clyde Goodwin Construction, Inc. Del Mar, CA Jan 01, 2012 $45,914 -
$52,175
Construction Worker I MJB Landscaping & Construction CO Mar 15, 2011 $41,740
Construction Worker Gary's Construction Thompson, IA Jun 01, 2016 $38,589
Construction and Related Workers, All Other Company Smile LLC New Orleans, LA Feb 01, 2015 $36,147
Construction Worker 1 CDC Pools, Inc. AZ Jan 17, 2015 $29,114
Construction Worker 1 CDC Pools, Inc. AZ Nov 17, 2014 $29,114
Construction Worker On Residential Homes PW Construction TX Apr 08, 2013 $28,571
Construction Worker I Island Concrete Form, LLC MA Mar 15, 2012 $28,550
Construction Worker I EMB Construction Company LLC DBA FMB Construction VA Apr 01, 2012 $28,529
Construction Worker Masse Contracting Inc. LA Mar 01, 2015 $28,404
Construction Worker S&D Drywall and Construction, Inc. Smyrna, GA Jan 01, 2016 $27,924
Construction Worker Southland Energy Services, LLC. LA Oct 01, 2013 $27,882
Construction Worker II Adcock Concrete, Inc. CO Apr 01, 2011 $24,251
Construction Worker I Wieber Steel Construction LLC SD Apr 01, 2011 $24,105
Construction Worker II Wieber Steel Construction, LLC SD Mar 15, 2012 $24,042
Construction Worker I G.E.M. Interiors Inc. OH Apr 01, 2012 $24,001
Construction Worker I JB Concrete TX Dec 10, 2011 $23,792
Construction Worker I G.K. Hall Construction, Inc. TX Jan 05, 2012 $23,708
Construction Worker I Praedavita Corporation DBA Blue Horse Building & D TX Apr 01, 2012 $23,708
Construction Worker I Double M Asphalt & Coating, Inc. CO Apr 01, 2012 $23,687

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Top Skills for A Construction Worker

DrywallInstallationConstructionSiteWorkersSafetyRulesWindowInstallationJobSiteHeavyEquipmentOperatorsHandToolsIdentifyBuildingMaterialsGeneralConstructionHeavyConstructionProjectsMasonryGeneralLaborSheetrockNewConstructionHeavyMachineryLoadConstructionMaterialsBobcatHazardousMaterialsPossibleHazardsSealStructuralComponents

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Top Construction Worker Skills

  1. Drywall Installation
  2. Construction Site Workers
  3. Safety Rules
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Skilled with drywall installation; limited experience in plastering
  • Assisted construction site workers with erecting structures and demolition.
  • Followed established safety rules and regulations and maintained a safe and clean environment.
  • Use of different materials used for door and window installation/removals.
  • Carry out tasks such as renovating properties and maintaining the job site.

Top Construction Worker Employers

Construction Worker Videos

Just the Job Video - Roading Construction Worker

Just the Job Video - Roading Construction Worker

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