Construction Laborers

Perform tasks involving physical labor at construction sites. May operate hand and power tools of all types: air hammers, earth tampers, cement mixers, small mechanical hoists, surveying and measuring equipment, and a variety of other equipment and instruments. May clean and prepare sites, dig trenches, set braces to support the sides of excavations, erect scaffolding, and clean up rubble, debris, and other waste materials. May assist other craft workers.

Sample of reported job titles: Bituminous Asphalt Technician, Construction Laborer, Construction Worker, Drop Crew Laborer, Equipment Operator (EO), Form Setter, Post Framer, Scaffolding Operator, Site Work Laborer, Toolman

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Tend pumps, compressors, or generators to provide power for tools, machinery, or equipment or to heat or move materials, such as asphalt.
  • Lubricate, clean, or repair machinery, equipment, or tools.
  • Signal equipment operators to facilitate alignment, movement, or adjustment of machinery, equipment, or materials.
  • Read plans, instructions, or specifications to determine work activities.
  • Measure, mark, or record openings or distances to layout areas where construction work will be performed.
  • Clean or prepare construction sites to eliminate possible hazards.
  • Dig ditches or trenches, backfill excavations, or compact and level earth to grade specifications, using picks, shovels, pneumatic tampers, or rakes.
  • Load, unload, or identify building materials, machinery, or tools, distributing them to the appropriate locations, according to project plans or specifications.
  • Position, join, align, or seal structural components, such as concrete wall sections or pipes.
  • Perform site activities required of green certified construction practices, such as implementing waste management procedures, identifying materials for reuse, or installing erosion or sedimentation control mechanisms.
  • Control traffic passing near, in, or around work zones.
  • Install sewer, water, or storm drain pipes, using pipe-laying machinery or laser guidance equipment.
  • Operate or maintain air monitoring or other sampling devices in confined or hazardous environments.
  • Smooth or finish freshly poured cement or concrete, using floats, trowels, screeds, or powered cement finishing tools.
  • Erect or dismantle scaffolding, shoring, braces, traffic barricades, ramps, or other temporary structures.
  • Provide assistance to craft workers, such as carpenters, plasterers, or masons.
  • Perform building weatherization tasks, such as repairing windows, adding insulation, or applying weather-stripping materials.
  • Apply weather-stripping to reduce energy loss.
  • Spray materials, such as water, sand, steam, vinyl, paint, or stucco, through hoses to clean, coat, or seal surfaces.
  • Raze buildings or salvage useful materials.
  • Mop, brush, or spread paints, cleaning solutions, or other compounds over surfaces to clean them or to provide protection.
  • Position or dismantle forms for pouring concrete, using saws, hammers, nails, or bolts.
  • Grind, scrape, sand, or polish surfaces, such as concrete, marble, terrazzo, or wood flooring, using abrasive tools or machines.
  • Place, consolidate, or protect case-in-place concrete or masonry structures.
  • Mix ingredients to create compounds for covering or cleaning surfaces.
  • Mix, pour, or spread concrete, using portable cement mixers.
  • Operate jackhammers or drills to break up concrete or pavement.
  • Apply caulking compounds by hand or caulking guns to protect against entry of water or air.
  • Tend machines that pump concrete, grout, cement, sand, plaster, or stucco through spray guns for application to ceilings or walls.
  • Identify, pack, or transport hazardous or radioactive materials.
  • Use computers or other input devices to control robotic pipe cutters or cleaners.
  • Perform construction laborer duties at green building sites, such as renewable energy plants or wind turbine installations.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment — Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
  • Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 97% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 81% responded “Every day.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 81% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing — 68% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Contact With Others — 58% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 19% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Telephone — 53% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 16% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 16% responded “About half the time.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 46% responded “Very important.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 49% responded “Every day.”
  • Time Pressure — 83% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Consequence of Error — 38% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 41% responded “Important results.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 42% responded “Very important.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 27% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 29% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity — 42% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 50% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Work Schedules — 53% responded “Irregular (changes with weather conditions, production demands, or contract duration).”
  • Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions — 60% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 38% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Outdoors, Under Cover — 40% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 26% responded “Very important.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 35% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 16% responded “Not important at all.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 26% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 66% responded “40 hours.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • In an Open Vehicle or Equipment — 26% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
Education
These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
Related Experience
Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.
Job Training
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, counter and rental clerks, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.
SVP Range
3 months to 1 year of preparation (4.0 to < 6.0)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

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Knowledge

  • Building and Construction — Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
  • Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 35%
     
    responded: High school diploma or equivalent requiredmore info
  • 33%
     
    responded: Less than high school diploma required

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
  • Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without "giving out" or fatiguing.
  • Dynamic Strength — The ability to exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue.
  • Extent Flexibility — The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Depth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
  • Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

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Interests

Interest code: RC
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

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Work Values

  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

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Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$18.16 hourly, $37,770 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2020)
1,285,200 employees
Projected growth (2020-2030)
Average (5% to 10%)
Projected job openings (2020-2030)
140,100
State trends
Top industries (2020)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2020-2030 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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