What does a general laborer do?

A laborer often completes the manual tasks that plumbers, contractors and construction workers direct. Under the supervision of a skilled technician, you learn how to perform a number of tasks. General laborers do anything from cleaning job sites to using hand tools to operating heavy machinery. You may operate bulldozers and remove rubble with hydraulic hoes. In other cases, you get to monitor these machines, ensuring they operate safely on site.

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What is the average salary of general laborers?

In some cases, a laborer works for a daily rate. Salaried laborers, on the other hand, receive a base rate under the determination that they’ll work a set number of hours each week. These employees find jobs paying $2,174.16 to $5,823.33 monthly. This monthly range takes into account temp work and busy seasons, which equates to roughly $12.49 to $33.60 per hour.  

Competitive pay

Laborers who earn a reputation for fast, reliable work often gain pay increases quickly because they directly increase their company's bottom line. For contract laborers hired for a single job, an increase in their rehire rate is also possible. In some cases, overtime and holiday pay is available. 

Performance bonuses

Performance bonuses are possible and are often given for finishing jobs ahead of schedule. General laborers also earn bonuses for anticipating and preventing problems that could cost a project money.



Working as a general laborer

General labor jobs often start very early and require promptness. A foreman who oversees the entire site assigns your daily tasks. Laborers are often asked to meet a crew directly at the job site or to drive to company headquarters and take a company vehicle to the site. Mornings often include a safety meeting and an update on plans and schedules. You are often required to work outside in all weather conditions.


The sites you work are usually funded to cover for potential overtime. This is a common situation for projects with tight schedules. Labor that involves moving traffic may occur at night or at odd hours to reduce the impact on commuting. 

What are the responsibilities of a general laborer? 

General labor duties vary widely. Your foreman will provide detailed information for you at each job site. Additionally, your job will be to show up reliably and on time, to follow all directions, to alert the foreman to any problems that you encounter and to dress appropriately with safety equipment as required for the job. Some equipment, like gloves, safety glasses and hard hats, will be provided by your employer. You will likely be required to purchase items like double-front jeans and steel-toed boots on your own.

What type of equipment do general laborers use?

Laborers use tools that dig into, break up or raise things higher. Along with the mechanical machines they operate, their safety equipment includes gloves, glasses and hardhats. Steel-toed boots and leather jackets provide additional safety. Your employer provides the equipment you need to work at each site. Though you may be allowed to use your own tools, the equipment needs you have are based on the specific site. 

Personal tools

Personal tools are more common if you are working as a handyman for individual customers. If you are hired as a laborer, the tools you need will be provided to you as a part of the job.

What is the work environment of a general laborer? 

Laborers must prepare for all weather conditions. Though trained for proper safety, general laborers work around what are commonly considered hazards. Those conditions might be on top of unsettled earth, on a ladder or scaffolding, or at the bottom of a trench or hole. You must be aware of your surroundings at all times due to vehicles, power tools and the transport of supply materials. The noise at your job site might even call for ear protection.

Who are your colleagues as a general laborer?

In most cases, you will work directly alongside other laborers. You will also work with skilled laborers, such as technicians. Technicians operate cranes, bulldozers and dump trucks. Foremen, architects, engineers and skilled laborers like plumbers, electricians and carpenters are also common at job sites. 

What is the work schedule of a general laborer? 

Expect a common workweek of 40 hours as a full-time employee. This may be done as five eight-hour days or as four 10-hour days. Both part-time and full-time roles are possible. Full-time jobs often offer overtime. Day labor and contract positions work on an as-needed basis.



What is the career outlook for a general laborer?

From home projects to commercial infrastructure construction, there are many industries that require help from general labor. The best opportunities are in cities that are growing or rebuilding after a disaster. Because buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure need regular maintenance and repair, the job outlook for labor is reliable and constant.

Promotion opportunities 

Promotion opportunities are ample in many types of labor. As a general laborer, you can go for a promotion within general construction and follow a management track. You also have the opportunity to move from general into skilled labor. This is a great entry-level opportunity to learn more about plumbing, electrical, carpentry, stonework or other skilled labor industries.

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a general laborer? 

Working with a contractor ensures that you get paid weekly and reliably. Spherion offers the flexibility of choosing your employer and its location. Having a database of potential employers drastically reduces the amount of effort you need to explore all of your job options. With a direct contact at the agency, your questions and concerns always get answered. Spherion also provides training to prepare you for local labor jobs.

Working with Spherion means you get more than just a job. You get the support and resources to advance your career, improve your work-life balance, and achieve your goals. Here are some of additional benefits to expect:

  • Weekly payments
  • A contact person who is always there for you and responds to any questions or concerns
  • A range of different jobs in your area
  • Training opportunities

What education do you need as a general laborer?

A high-school education or equivalent is enough to start off as a general laborer. Being disciplined and prompt will give you a huge advantage. Advance your education to prepare for promotions. You can do this through skilled labor licensing or formal education in architecture, engineering or construction management.

Skills & competencies

The ability to follow directions is absolutely necessary as a field laborer. You do not need experience. The bulk of what every general laborer needs to know gets learned on the job. As a laborer, you must be strong enough to lift and move a minimum weight. You must have eyesight of a certain level to be able to read warning signs and watch for danger. You must understand safety risks and preventative measures. Good communication skills when a project does not go as planned are also important.




Building your professional career as a laborer is possible in a wide variety of industries. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about becoming a general laborer.

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