Labourers are employed to work in construction and carry out everything from bricklaying, carpentry and plastering to digging trenches. It’s a physically demanding job and you need to be fit to do it. It’s often weather dependent and you could find yourself working outside in the sun on fine days but shivering in the cold when it’s windy and wet.
Do I need any experience to be a labourer?
You don’t need any experience to be a labourer and most learn on the job through an apprenticeship. Many employers do expect you to have some experience so if you haven’t undertaken an apprenticeship you’ll need to sharpen up your skills elsewhere. There are courses you can take which equip you with a variety of key skills such as City & Guilds Basic Skills in Construction or a BTEC in Construction and the Built Environment.
Basic numeracy and literacy skills are also really important because you may have to make calculations or take measurements as well as sometimes understand technical drawings. Couch potatoes, however, need not apply. Being a labourer requires a lot of physical exertion. On a typical day – you could have to carry heavy loads, climb ladders, dig holes manually and generally get your hands dirty. So, if the last time you lifted anything heavier than a bag of sugar was years ago, you could find the work places your body under a lot of stress.
What will I be doing day-to-day?
Be prepared for some early starts and early finishes because construction is often dictated by the weather and lighting conditions.The day-to-day role varies enormously and one day you could be constructing walls or demolishing them, another day you could be laying pipes, drilling or blasting.
Other duties might include: directing traffic near building sites, driving fork lifts, maintaining tools and equipment, constructing roads and paths and erecting scaffolding.If you specialise in carpentry or plastering for example, you might need to take further courses to improve your skills
How much can I earn?
Most labourers will be paid an hourly wage and it is very much dependent on weather, which can stop work and therefore you won’t get paid. The average labourer starts on around £15,000, increasing to between £16,000 and £21,000 with experience. Highly skilled labourers can earn as much as £29,000 a year.
What are the career prospects?
Once you’ve built up your experience as a labourer you can progress to foreman or site manager or specialise in an area you have gained plenty of experience in e.g. plastering. You could also take further qualifications such as NVQ and move on to plant operator or construction management.