Wherever a building or construction site is active, there are usually roustabouts there to perform a wide variety of tasks. These workers serve as the utility infielders of the construction world, doing what needs to be done whenever called upon. They can be found at heavy construction sites, building renovations, civil engineering projects and anywhere else construction sites need laborers to help out.
Roustabouts, more generally referred to as construction laborers, perform a wide variety of tasks at construction sites and building projects. They often perform tasks requiring physical strength, like carrying heavy objects, moving equipment, setting up scaffolding and removing scrap materials. They can be tasked to load or unload trucks, monitor pumps, remove debris or operate machinery. Sometimes they may be called upon to perform tasks that involve specific trade skills, like building a brick wall, while others require no formal training or experience, like sweeping floors.
Education and Training
Many construction laborers have no formal education and training, while others may acquire job skills through apprenticeship programs. On-the-job education is usually one of the main ways these workers learn their trade. By hiring on with a contractor, they aid other workers, learning as they go about their tasks. For example, a new laborer may start off doing menial tasks like trash collection or clean-up, but as time goes by, he may be taught how to use heavy equipment, how to build stone walls or perform other tasks associated with construction projects.
Roustabouts are usually required to do physically demanding work, usually in an outdoor environment. They can be exposed to harmful chemicals, fumes and environments that require adherence to safety protocols. These workers experience one of the highest rates of nonfatal injuries and illness, and safety concerns are a top priority on the job site. Most workers put in a standard 40-hour work week, with occasional evening work required, especially by highway or road construction workers.
Jobs and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were about 1.2 million construction laborer jobs in 2008. Job growth in this area is expected to be much faster than average between 2008 and 2018, but competition for these positions is expected. The median average salary for these workers in 2008 was about $13.87 an hour. The top 10 percent earned almost $26 an hour, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.67 an hour.
Laborers must generally have a good degree of manual dexterity, physical strength, sense of balance and hand-eye coordination. The ability to take measurements and solve arithmetic problems quickly can also be required. Many roustabouts need some experience with heavy equipment and may be required to drive a car or truck.