Highways, bridges, roads, houses, and more. All of these constructions were wrought by the hands of construction laborers. You have them to thank for getting you to and from work, and perhaps even the traffic jam on the way to work. If you enjoy working with your hands, seeing something come from nothing, and working a wide range of tasks, then a career as a construction laborer may be just right for you.
Construction Laborer Job Responsibilities
Construction laborers are present on nearly all construction sites, carrying out a wide array of tasks from the simple to the dangerous. They are found at highway, building, and heavy construction sites, commercial and residential sites, and shaft and tunnel clearings as well as demolition sites. Several of the jobs they carry out call for physical strength, experience, and training. Other tasks need little skill and can be learned rather quickly. Although several construction laborers are well-versed in a particular type of construction, such as tunnel or highway construction, some are generalists who specialize in a range of tasks in all stages of construction. Construction laborers who work in underground construction, such as demolition, or in tunnels usually specialize in only those select areas.
It is the job of the construction laborer to clean and prepare construction sites. They take away debris and trees; tend pumps, generators, and compressors, and they also build and take apart scaffolding and other temporary constructions. Laborers also load, unload, identify, and distribute building materials to the correct location according to project specifications. They usually assist other craftworkers, including plasterers, carpenters, masons, and operating engineers.
Construction laborers install and maintain traffic control patterns and devices. At highway construction sites, this kind of work may include preparing and clearing highway work zones and rights-of-way; setting up traffic markers, barricades, and cones; and directing traffic passing near, in, and around work areas.
Construction Laborer Training and Education Requirements
Certain laborer positions have no required education qualifications or entry-level training, apprenticeships for laborers usually call for a high school diploma or the equivalent. High school courses in mathematics, English, mechanical drawing, physics, general shop, and welding can prove to be useful
A majority of workers begin by getting a job with a contractor who provides on-the-job training. More so now than ever construction laborers have been discovering work through temporary-help agencies that direct laborers to construction sites for short-term work. Entry-level workers usually assist more experienced workers by performing standard tasks such as preparing and cleaning the work site and unloading materials. When the chance comes, they gain knowledge from well-versed construction trades laborers on how to carry out more challenging jobs, such as using equipment and tools. Laborers also may decide or be required to attend a vocational or trade school, association training class, or community college to have further trade-related training.
In some cases laborers are afforded more formal training in the form of an apprenticeship. These programs have between 2 and 4 years of classroom and on-the-job training. In the initial 200 hours, students learn fundamental construction skills like blueprint reading and health and safety procedures. The rest of the curriculum is formed of specialized skills training in three of the largest sections of the construction industry; building construction, environmental remediation, and heavy and highway construction.
Construction Laborer Salary and Wages
In May 2008 the median hourly wages of wage and salary construction workers were $13.71. The middle fifty percent made between $10.74 and $18.57. The lowest ten percent made less than $8.67, and the highest ten percent made more than $25.98.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Construction Laborer Certifications
Construction workers have the opportunity to earn certifications in scaffold erecting, welding, and concrete finishing. Such certifications can assist workers that demonstrate that they have knowledge to carry out more difficult tasks.
With experience and training, laborers can take on other construction occupations. They may also move on to become general contractors or construction supervisors. For any who would like to advance, it is increasingly vital to be able to communicate in English and Spanish to convey instructions and safety precautions to workers with little comprehension of English.
Construction Laborer Professional Associations
ASTRACOR, or the Residential Construction Workers Association, was founded in 2006 as a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation to administer training and support services to area construction workers. It started out with a discretionary Workforce Investment Act grant given by the Governor of Virginia, and since then has been paired with the Kellogg Foundation grant for the creation of a SkillsUSA chapter, and a grant from Hispanics in Philanthropy. The combined sponsorships from these organizations has resulted in the localized promotion of professionalism, personal accountability, and trade excellence inside of the industry.
The Construction Employers’ Association (CEA) is made up of an estimated 100 of the top unionized contractors who perform building construction work in Northern California. Their membership base provides over $10 billion in private and public construction volume annually. CEA is a sole organization whose only purpose is to promote and safeguard the interests of the unionized commercial building construction business in Northern California.