what is a labourer?

A labourer is a worker who provides the physical labour required by a foreman, contractor or project manager. Labourers are often the most important link between a business plan and their physical capacity to complete construction and other projects. Manual labour is the key focus of this profession, so prior experience or trade skills aren't always necessary. Being able to move and do strenuous activities is vital in the role. You have to listen keenly and follow directions carefully with little oversight.

What do labourers do?

As a labourer, you use manual and mechanical tools based on your experience and job needs. Not every project is the same for a labourer, so you will acquire diverse skills the longer you stay in this field. A labourer working with a blacksmith, for example, gains the skills of blacksmiths. Since labourers do the essential jobs needed by a site manager, they often find great opportunities for promotion.

Construction managers, supervisors and contractors are professionals who often started as labourers. As long as you're willing to listen and learn, your manager and employer will give you valuable knowledge, leading to future promotions.

Would working in construction as a labourer suit your interest in manual work and attention to detail? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a labourer role.  

labourer jobs

average salary of a labourer

According to ONS, a labourer earns an average salary of £22,425 per year, which translates to £11.50 per hour. Entry-level positions attract £21,215 per year, while experienced labourers earn 27,224 annually. Full-time workers enjoy various benefits, including medical and life insurance. When you work overtime, your earnings are higher than for regular shifts.

Where you work and the company you work with ultimately dictates your financial opportunities. Since many open jobs for labourers are temporary, contractors are often willing to negotiate the pay.

ways to increase a labourer's salary

A labourer's salary depends on the shift hours and the job complexity. When a job requires additional training and skills, the hourly pay rates are higher than jobs with minimal skill requirements. Your educational qualifications and skills can also affect your pay. General labourers don't need any skills, but your earnings increase if you have some post-secondary qualifications in, for instance, operating machinery.


types of labourers

Ideally, a labourer is an all-around handyman. However, you can work in various fields and learn multiple skills. Some types of labourers include:

  • construction labourer: as a construction labourer, you perform general manual work, including groundwork like marking and digging trenches for foundations. You also fix bars and steelwork to reinforce concrete structures. Sometimes, you move bricks, mortar and timber around the construction site to other workers.
  • warehouse labourer: your job is to load and offload deliveries at the warehouse. You work alongside warehouse teams to ensure products are packaged and loaded onto delivery trucks on time. You also organise the warehouse to ensure the products are stored properly.

working as a labourer

Working as a labourer can be a significant learning experience for those new to the construction industry. Lifting, moving, shovelling and cleaning are basic skills for all labourer roles. Read on to better understand what's expected of you and how to prepare for a successful career.


education and skills

Labourer jobs don't require any formal education. You need to be willing to learn and follow instructions. A supervisor or contractor usually provides detailed instructions on carrying out the tasks. For complex roles, you undergo on-the-job training before the job commences. Post-secondary training enables you to work in skilled roles using specialised equipment. You will find specialised labour training through a trade or school vocational programme. These qualifications include welding and woodworking. When the job calls for it, labourers with experience in operating heavy machinery often take over for technicians.

skills and competencies

Apart from basic education, you need the following competencies:

  • physical fitness: as a labourer, you need to be physically fit and strong to handle manual tasks. You will lift heavy weights and stand or bend for long hours. Manual dexterity and hand to eye coordination are also important for the role. Dexterity prevents accidents and self-inflicted injuries.
  • teamwork skills: as a labourer, you work alongside a large team of construction workers, collaborating with others to accomplish your tasks on time. People skills also improve your listening, which means you will be better at following instructions from supervisors.
  • mechanical skills: as a labourer, you should have basic skills in using various machines at a construction site. Your expertise in using handheld devices and maintaining them makes your work easier.


FAQs about working as a labourer

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