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General Laborer Job Description

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General laborers, also known as construction laborers and helpers, perform basic yet important physical work tasks at building construction sites, highway infrastructure projects and mining locations. They assist bricklayers, carpenters, concrete workers, electricians, roofers, painters, plumbers, stone masons and welders. Experienced general laborers supervise the work of their younger colleagues. Physical strength, flexibility to interact with diverse craft workers along with the ability to work on high-rise projects, underground or in hot and cold weather conditions are key traits of general laborers.


General laborers remove trash, residual building debris and potential dangerous materials from construction sites. They construct and later disassemble reinforcement braces, concrete forms, scaffolds and temporary structures. General laborers carry bricks, cans of paint, cinder blocks, drywall sheets, electrical spools of wire, roofing panels and wooden wall panels. They use shovels and backhoes to dig holes and smooth terrain. General laborers may also use concrete mortar mixers to assist masonry workers and operate forklifts to move heavy materials.

Training and Apprenticeship

General laborers receive on-the-job training beginning with easy tasks such as cleaning construction sites and carrying materials. Formal apprenticeship programs that last from two to four years teach general laborers more complicated tasks. Apprentices must be at least 18 years of age and a high school diploma is beneficial although not always required. According to the National Center for Construction Education and Research, construction laborer apprentices study modules about basic safety, blueprint reading, building materials and adhesives, electrical safety, introduction to concrete, hand and power tools, elevated masonry and concrete work, light equipment and lastly, how to use forklifts.

Licenses and Certifications

General laborers who work with hazardous materials, also known as hazmat, must obtain a federal hazmat license. Certification is beneficial and usually required for the following construction laborer specialties according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: asbestos, energy auditor, lead workers, pipeline operators, radiological employees, rough terrain forklift operators, signal persons on road sites and other venues, weatherization installation, welding and work zone safety. .

Anticipated Wages

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that construction laborers earned a mean hourly rate of $16.43 and a mean annual salary of $34,170 as of May 2011. Entry-level construction laborers, which includes the lowest 10 percent of earners, had earnings of $18,820 or less annually. The most experienced construction laborers, or the highest 10 percent of workers, earned yearly wages of $58,250 or more, according to the BLS. The highway, street and bridge construction industry reported the highest mean salaries for construction laborers in industries with at least 24,010 workers: $18.28 per hour and $38,030, annually according, to the BLS.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected number of new jobs for construction laborers is estimated to increase by 212,400, or 21 percent, through 2020. This estimate compares with an average 14 percent growth rate in all other U.S. occupations tracked by the BLS. Increased demand for the construction of new homes, commercial office buildings, factories and national infrastructure projects will provide better-than-average job opportunities for laborers.

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers Employment and Labor Information 2023

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers Employment Brief:

Manually move freight, stock, luggage, or other materials, or perform other general labor. Includes all manual laborers not elsewhere classified.

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers Job Description

Here is a Job Description an employer might post for potential Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers.

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Bundle and band material such as fodder or tobacco leaves, using banding machines.
  • Connect electrical equipment to power sources so that it can be tested before use.
  • Carry needed tools or supplies from storage or trucks and return them after use.
  • Read work orders or receive oral instructions to determine work assignments or material or equipment needs.
  • Attach identifying tags to containers or mark them with identifying information.
  • Record numbers of units handled or moved, using daily production sheets or work tickets.
  • Move freight, stock, or other materials to and from storage or production areas, loading docks, delivery vehicles, ships, or containers, by hand or using trucks, tractors, or other equipment.
  • Maintain equipment storage areas to ensure that inventory is protected.
  • Shovel material, such as gravel, ice, or spilled concrete, into containers or bins or onto conveyors.
  • Install protective devices, such as bracing, padding, or strapping, to prevent shifting or damage to items being transported.

Typical Daily Tasks of Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers:

  • Performing General Physical Activities: Clean facilities or work areas. Load shipments, belongings, or materials. Move materials, equipment, or supplies. Secure cargo. Shovel materials.
  • Handling and Moving Objects: Connect cables or electrical lines. Package materials or products. Position material handling equipment. Set up material handling gear or equipment, such as rigging, packaging, or temporary structures.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events: Mark materials or objects for identification.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes: Operate cranes, hoists, or other moving or lifting equipment. Operate packing or other material processing equipment.
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates: Receive information or instructions for performing work assignments.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems.
  • Getting Information: Review work orders or schedules to determine operations or procedures.

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers Skills and Requirements:

  • Negotiation Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Science Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Mathematics Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Instructing Teaching others how to do something.
  • Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • GraphicsWorking with pictures in graphics programs or other applications, including creating simple graphics, manipulating the appearance, and inserting graphics into other programs.
  • Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Equipment Maintenance Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  • Learning Strategies Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers Salary and Wages:

Average Salary: 58,450. Education: typical education requirements include High school diploma or equivalent.

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Data from May 2023 courtesy of U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program.


Steve Amoia is a writer, book reviewer and translator from Washington, D.C. He began his writing career as a software technical writer. Amoia focuses on career-related themes, Chinese martial/healing arts and international soccer journalism.

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