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Occupation Profile

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Construction Laborers
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Description: what do they do?
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.
Also known as:
Construction Laborer, Union Laborer, Helper, Construction Worker, Laborer, Curb and Gutter Laborer, Skill Labor, Drop Crew Laborer, Post Framer, Drain Layer

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
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    Transcript: Construction laborers are skilled workers who do much of the physically demanding labor at all kinds of construction projects, from excavation to building and demolition. Construction laborers use a variety of hand and power tools to hammer, lift, saw, and measure materials. Depending on the specialty of their employer, laborers might prepare a worksite, dig trenches, mix and place concrete, or even work with hazardous materials or explosives. Clean-up is usually in the job description. In different phases of construction, laborers assist other trades workers, and may need to interpret plans or specifications to set work priorities. They may also direct traffic around a work area to keep other workers safe. But all construction laborers can expect to do repetitive, physically demanding work— with noise, fumes, and dangers that require safety gear such as hard hats, gloves, face masks, ear protectors, and eyewear. Some employers require a high school diploma, but related work experience, strength, reliability, and safety are often more important to getting hired in this field.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Expected to grow much faster than average
  • Projected to have a large number of job openings


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
California
124,100
2016 Employment
147,100
2026 Employment
19%
Percent change
15,970
Annual projected job openings
United States
1,405,000
2018 Employment
1,553,100
2028 Employment
11%
Percent change
179,300
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016 (for states) or 2018 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2026 (for states) or 2028 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2016-26.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2018-28.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Construction Laborers in San Diego-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationSan Diego-Carlsbad, CA Metro AreaUnited States
10%$25,370$23,460
25%$31,380$28,520
Median$39,440$35,800
75%$55,760$47,910
90%$77,830$65,590


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    Also note that in this update, 21 detailed occupations found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) were replaced with 10 new aggregations of those occupations; read more about these OES changes.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2018 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • No formal educational credential
  • No work experience
  • Less than 1 month on-the-job training

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2018.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2016–17.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Direct vehicle traffic.
  • Clean work sites.
  • Signal equipment operators to indicate proper equipment positioning.
  • Review blueprints or specifications to determine work requirements.
  • Load or unload materials used in construction or extraction.
  • Move construction or extraction materials to locations where they are needed.
  • Measure work site dimensions.
  • Mark reference points on construction materials.
  • Install plumbing or piping.
  • Test air quality at work sites.
  • Dig holes or trenches.
  • Compact materials to create level bases.
  • Mix substances or compounds needed for work activities.
  • Pour materials into or on designated areas.
  • Spread concrete or other aggregate mixtures.
  • Operate pumps or compressors.
  • Dismantle equipment or temporary structures.
  • Assemble temporary equipment or structures.
  • Assist skilled construction or extraction personnel.
  • Clean equipment or facilities.
  • Maintain construction tools or equipment.
  • Smooth surfaces with abrasive materials or tools.
  • Position structural components.
  • Position construction forms or molds.
  • Apply paint to surfaces.
  • Clean surfaces in preparation for work activities.
  • Apply sealants or other protective coatings.
  • Finish concrete surfaces.
  • Install green structural components, equipment or systems.
  • Break up rock, asphalt, or concrete.
  • Install masonry materials.
  • Remove worn, damaged or outdated materials from work areas.
  • Protect structures or surfaces near work areas to avoid damage.
  • Install insulation in equipment or structures.
  • Prepare explosives for detonation.
  • Operate heavy-duty construction or installation equipment.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • 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.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Manual Dexterity - Holding or moving items with your hands.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - Keeping your arm or hand steady.
  • Multilimb Coordination - Using your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down.
  • Static Strength - Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying.
  • Control Precision - Quickly changing the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Conventional - Occupations related to Conventional interests frequently involve following set procedures and routines. They include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

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

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.