Construction Laborer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Construction Laborers Career Video



Performs 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.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Controls traffic passing near, in, or around work zones.
  • Cleans or prepares construction sites to eliminate possible hazards.
  • Signals equipment operators to facilitate alignment, movement, or adjustment of machinery, equipment, or materials.
  • Reads plans, instructions, or specifications to determine work activities.
  • Loads, unloads, or identifies building materials, machinery, or tools, distributing them to the appropriate locations, according to project plans or specifications.
  • Measures, marks, or records openings or distances to layout areas where construction work will be performed.
  • Digs ditches or trenches, backfills excavations, or compacts and levels earth to grade specifications, using picks, shovels, pneumatic tampers, or rakes.
  • Mixes, pours, or spreads concrete, using portable cement mixers.
  • Tends pumps, compressors, or generators to provide power for tools, machinery, or equipment or to heat or move materials, such as asphalt.
  • Erects or dismantles scaffolding, shoring, braces, traffic barricades, ramps, or other temporary structures.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves kneeling, crouching, stooping, and/or crawling more than one-third of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Using muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Exerting oneself physically over long periods of time without getting out of breath
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

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