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Become A Helper

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Working As A Helper

  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Getting Information
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Thinking Creatively
  • $21,445

    Average Salary

What Does A Helper 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 Helper

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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Helper Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Farm Helper 2.6 years
Helper 2.0 years
Carpenter Helper 2.0 years
Plumber Helper 2.0 years
Maintenance Helper 1.9 years
General Helper 1.9 years
Helper/Apprentice 1.9 years
Painter Helper 1.8 years
Roofer Helper 1.7 years
Electrical Helper 1.7 years
Line Helper 1.7 years
Driller Helper 1.6 years
Rigger Helper 1.6 years
Shop Helper 1.5 years
Boilermaker Helper 1.5 years
Millwright Helper 1.4 years
Insulation Helper 1.0 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 15.8%
Cook 7.1%
Driver 4.3%
Volunteer 4.3%
Stocker 4.2%
Technician 3.7%
Server 3.4%
Internship 3.3%
Manager 3.2%
Operator 3.2%
Teller 3.1%
Assistant 3.1%
Top Employers After
Cashier 11.7%
Driver 6.8%
Technician 5.3%
Cook 5.2%
Volunteer 4.4%
Welder 4.4%
Internship 4.1%
Operator 3.6%
Server 3.5%
Supervisor 3.3%

Do you work as a Helper?

Helper Demographics

Gender

Male

72.8%

Female

25.4%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

77.5%

Hispanic or Latino

14.0%

Asian

6.6%

Unknown

1.4%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.5%

French

7.5%

Chinese

2.7%

German

2.5%

Japanese

2.5%

Mandarin

2.3%

Arabic

1.9%

Cantonese

1.7%

Hindi

1.6%

Italian

1.6%

Russian

1.4%

Polish

1.4%

Portuguese

1.3%

Tagalog

1.1%

Hmong

0.9%

Hebrew

0.9%

Dakota

0.9%

Korean

0.8%

Carrier

0.8%

Greek

0.8%
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Helper Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

11.0%

Baton Rouge Community College

8.2%

Delgado Community College

6.1%

Del Mar College

5.9%

Houston Community College

5.5%

Lamar University

5.4%

Lamar Institute of Technology

5.0%

South Texas College

4.9%

Tulsa Welding School

4.6%

Hinds Community College

4.5%

Ashford University

4.2%

The Academy

4.2%

Liberty University

4.1%

Universal Technical Institute

4.1%

Lee College

4.1%

Brazosport College

4.0%

Tidewater Community College

3.8%

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

3.7%

McNeese State University

3.6%

Southeastern Louisiana University

3.3%
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Majors

Business

18.2%

Criminal Justice

9.2%

General Studies

8.6%

Precision Metal Working

7.0%

Automotive Technology

5.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.9%

Psychology

4.9%

Computer Science

4.7%

Nursing

4.4%

Heating And Air Conditioning

4.2%

Education

3.5%

Accounting

3.3%

Medical Assisting Services

3.1%

Graphic Design

3.1%

Kinesiology

2.7%

Health Care Administration

2.7%

Biology

2.7%

Electrical Engineering

2.6%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Communication

2.5%
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Degrees

Other

48.5%

Bachelors

20.9%

Associate

15.4%

Certificate

8.3%

Diploma

3.1%

Masters

3.0%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Internship
Temporary

Real Helper Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Concrete Helper 30-30 Concrete, Inc. Young America, MN May 24, 2016 $49,838
Helper Deca Construction, Inc. Harleysville, PA Apr 14, 2016 $44,265
Helper MTGS Enterprises LLC Elgin, TX Jul 11, 2016 $37,963
Masonry Helpers Rosales Masonry MO Mar 15, 2015 $36,356
Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons Miami Valley Concrete, LLC. OH Apr 01, 2015 $34,853
Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons Miami Valley Concrete, LLC OH Apr 01, 2015 $34,853
Brickmason Helper Above All Masonry Design Inc. Islandia, NY Mar 17, 2016 $34,091
Brickmason Helper Above All Masonry Design Inc. Islandia, NY Jun 04, 2016 $34,091
Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons Lino's Tile Company CO Jan 01, 2015 $33,914
Helpers BH Contractors LLC Orange, TX Apr 26, 2016 $33,747
Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons Lino's Tile Company Aurora, CO Jan 18, 2016 $33,538
Helpers BH Contractors LLC Donaldsonville, LA Mar 23, 2016 $32,349
Helper Hugo Garza Drywall, Inc. Del Rio, TX Apr 08, 2016 $32,307
Masonry Helper Bello's Coping & Tile, LLC PA Mar 09, 2015 $32,307
Helpers BH Contractors LLC Marrero, LA Feb 08, 2016 $29,385
Pool Laborer Helper Herder Plumbing Inc. AZ Feb 20, 2015 $29,322
Helpers-Brickmasons, Stonemasons Four Corners Masonry WY Feb 01, 2016 $29,301
Masseuse Helper Life Massage & Spa Nantucket, MA Apr 01, 2015 $29,218
Helper Barkley Specialty Services LLC TX Jun 20, 2015 $29,218
Helper, Pipelayer Allen H. Mitchell Construction, Inc. MD Apr 01, 2016 $29,072
Beekeeper Helper Paul Taylor Faith, SD Jul 21, 2016 $28,801
Beekeeper, Helper Texas Best Honey, Inc. Edmore, ND Jul 18, 2016 $28,801
Helpers--Stonemason Sweet Dried Fruit and Nut Company Chattanooga, TN Apr 01, 2016 $26,129
Stucco Helper Division Nine Solutions, LLC Oklahoma City, OK Apr 01, 2015 $25,900
Groundskeeping Helper Nature's Way, Inc. KY Feb 01, 2015 $25,628
Laborer/Helper Port Enterprises, Ltd. TX Apr 20, 2015 $25,524
Groundskeeping Helper Swartz Mowing, Inc. KY Feb 15, 2016 $25,315
Groundskeeping Helper Merkle Lawn Care Company, Inc. Wilder, KY Feb 15, 2016 $25,274
Groundskeeping Helper Nature's Way, Inc. Burlington, KY Apr 01, 2016 $25,127
Helper Barkley Specialty Services LLC Houston, TX Jun 20, 2015 $25,044

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Top Skills for A Helper

SafetyProceduresJobSiteCustomerServiceHandToolsDeliveryWindowsWeldersDrywallPrepGeneralLaborResponsibilitiesiConstructionSitesHvacHeavyEquipmentTemporaryResponsibilitieshelpMathematicsCommunicationSkillsIdentifyBuildingMaterialsSetup

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  1. Safety Procedures
  2. Job Site
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Remove or seal off old asbestos insulation, following safety procedures.
  • Metal working and fabrication was performed on every job site.
  • Provided customer service to customers inquiring about products and their locations.
  • Used a variety of hand tools and standard test equipment in the performance of these duties.
  • Reported any errors found on delivery documents to supervisor.

How Would You Rate Working As a Helper?

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Top Helper Employers

Helper Videos

Welder (1st class helper), Career Video from drkit.org

A Day In The Life of a Mail Carrier

Welders Helper (third hand)