What Does a Construction Labourer Do? Duties and Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Construction labourers perform physical labour for construction projects. Those who enjoy working with machinery and don't mind spending most of their day outdoors often find this career fulfilling. If this career path interests you, it may be valuable to ensure you have a full understanding of the daily tasks people in this role perform. In this article, we explore what a construction labourer is, answer the question 'What does a construction labourer do?', look at the skills these professionals often require and answer some frequently asked questions about this job.

What does a construction labourer do?

If you're wondering 'What does a construction labourer do?', you may want to look at the duties these professionals perform regularly. Some of the most common tasks they participate in include:

Clearing and preparing construction sites

A common duty for these professionals is to clean and prepare construction sites. This ensures the sites are ready for work and there are no hazards that could harm other construction workers. They may prepare equipment, remove potentially hazardous materials and load or unload materials for use in the construction process.

Related: Construction Worker Resume (With Templates and Examples)

Maintaining construction machinery and equipment

Another duty for construction labourers is the process of maintaining construction equipment and machinery. They may perform regular maintenance to keep equipment safe for use. They may also troubleshoot machinery and fix any issues they find.

Related: How to Become a Construction Worker

Building and disassembling temporary structures

At some construction sites, labourers build temporary structures and then take them apart as part of the construction process. Construction labourers are often responsible for this duty. Examples of temporary structures they may work with include scaffolding, barricades, formwork and bracing.

Performing duties related to preparation for construction

There are several duties that labourers complete before construction can begin. Some of these include backfilling holes, digging trenches and compacting the earth. Construction labourers are often responsible for these tasks and play an important part in the preparation process.

Using tools and equipment

Many construction labourers use a variety of tools and equipment to perform their jobs. Some of these include pavement breakers, earth tampers, surveying equipment and shovels. These professionals require a working knowledge of the functions of these tools to use them effectively.

Working as part of a crew

Many construction labourers work as part of a construction crew to complete tasks. Some of their responsibilities may be easy but others may be more challenging, such as working with heavy machinery like concrete mixers. Construction labourers require good communication and teamwork skills to work successfully as part of a crew.

Related: What Is Construction Project Management? (With Stages)

Following construction plans

Another important part of a construction labourer's duties is to follow construction plans. These plans may include blueprints and other information from construction management software. Construction labourers often receive these plans from supervisors or more senior colleagues.

Assisting craft workers

Craft workers are professionals who have highly skilled roles in construction projects. A construction labourer may assist these individuals throughout the construction process. For example, they may transport tools and equipment, dispose of waste and help set up machinery and equipment for them.

Performing other duties as needed

Other duties that construction labourers may perform include:

  • operation of equipment and machines

  • adherence to construction blueprints and plans

  • working under supervision to ensure they perform their tasks in a timely and successful manner

  • participation in site clean-up after a construction project is complete

  • help in traffic management in and around the construction site

  • follow all safety and health regulations

Some construction labourers choose to specialise in certain areas. The area they choose may determine where they work and the duties they perform. Some common specialty areas include:

  • digging tunnels and mineshafts

  • removing hazardous materials and waste

  • breaking down buildings

  • erecting offices and homes

  • constructing roads and highways

Related: How to Become a Crane Operator (With FAQs)

Skills for construction labourers

Construction labourers require a wide range of skills to help them perform their roles successfully. Some of these skills include:

  • Physical strength: Construction labourers often perform several tasks on a construction site that require physical labour and strength. These tasks may involve operating tools and machinery, bending, digging and climbing.

  • Dexterity: Construction labourers require good hand-eye coordination to move quickly and assemble objects. They often benefit from multi-limb coordination, which is the ability to use both arms and legs when performing tasks.

  • Mathematical skills: Maths skills are often necessary to determine various aspects of a construction project. For example, a construction labourer may determine the area of a construction zone to put hazard signs around to keep people and vehicles out.

  • Building knowledge: Construction labourers' primary job is often preparing and helping to build a variety of structures including bridges, highways and ships. They require a solid knowledge of building techniques and materials and experience using the machinery and tools involved in building projects.

  • Engineering knowledge: Much of what construction labourers do depends on engineering related to construction projects. Examples of engineering skills that benefit these professionals include ironwork, plumbing, masonry, surveying and demolition.

  • Communication skills: Construction labourers require strong oral and written communication skills to communicate effectively with project managers and other labourers. They may want to ask questions, determine directions and make decisions based on the work performed.

  • Technology skills: Many construction labourers work with construction technology to complete their duties. Some of this technology may include drones, mobile apps, augmented reality and construction management software.

  • Problem-solving skills: Challenges often arise at construction sites. Construction labourers may want to solve these using problem-solving skills like decision making, analytical skills, active listening and team building.

  • Teamwork: Construction labourers often work as part of a team with other construction workers. Good teamwork skills help ensure they collaborate successfully with peers and avoid uncertainties and disagreements.

  • Leadership: Some construction labourers supervise a group of construction workers. For example, they may manage work sites, direct teams and perform quality control on completed projects.

  • Building codes: The law requires that construction labourers comply with several codes when performing their work. It requires that they operate according to safety codes, environmental regulations and labour agreements.

Related: 16 Highest-Paid Construction Jobs (Salaries and Duties)

Frequently asked questions about construction labourer jobs

The following are the answers to some frequently asked questions related to construction labourer positions:

What is the work environment like for construction labourers?

Most construction labourers work outdoors at construction sites. They may travel to various sites to perform duties. Some construction labourers may also spend some time filling out paperwork or updating records in an office.

Related: How to Write an Effective Construction Cover Letter

What qualifications do construction labourers require?

The most common educational requirement for construction labourers is a high school certificate (HSC). They may also further their knowledge relevant to construction by taking courses in mathematics, welding and engineering. They may also complete an apprenticeship or work to earn an Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification. Some construction workers also obtain certifications, such as an Associate Constructor certificate or a Certified Professional Constructor certificate.

Related: Top 10 Certificates in Construction Work (With FAQs)

What are similar jobs to construction labourers?

The following are similar jobs to that of a construction labourer:

  • Construction inspector: These professionals work for the local government and visit construction sites to perform inspections. They make sure construction workers comply with all the codes and follow contract specifications.

  • Flooring installer: A flooring installer is a professional who lays and finishes floors inside structures. They work with a variety of types of flooring, such as carpet, vinyl and wood.

  • Brick mason: A brick mason builds fireplaces, fences and other structures that incorporate bricks into the final product. They may cut or break bricks to ensure they're of the right shape and size.

  • Crane operator: A crane operator works with different types of crane machinery to lift and move large and heavy materials from one location to another.

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