Construction Laborers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates. A mix of classes that will help you work in the often technical and exacting environment of a construction site is important. Take advantage of opportunities to strengthen your communication skills. Basic mathematics will help; advanced courses are even better. Shop courses will teach you how to work with your hands and use basic power tools.

Postsecondary Training

In general, no particular training is necessary for most entry-level construction laborer jobs. As a beginner, you'll learn whatever job skills you need informally as you work under the supervision of more experienced workers. If you must work with potentially dangerous equipment or materials, you'll receive instruction in safety procedures that minimize the chance of accidents.

To become a skilled, productive laborer, training is important. In supporting other experienced craftsmen, your work will require that you have a diverse set of skills and are comfortable with the operation of today's increasingly complex and highly technical tools, equipment, and instruments.

Apprenticeship programs are available for those seeking a more structured background in this field. Apprenticeship programs include two to four years of on-the-job and classroom instruction in such areas as site and project preparation and maintenance; tools, equipment, and materials; safety; environmental remediation; building construction; and heavy/highway construction. As an apprentice, you'll receive specific training and instruction in dealing with the removal of asbestos, hazardous waste, lead, radiation, and underground storage tanks, as well as the basics of working with asphalt, concrete, lines and grades, masonry, and pipe-laying, and in reading blueprints. All of these skills and training make you, a better all-around worker, and can contribute to your ability to get better jobs.

Some aspiring apprentices first train for the field by participating in the U.S. government's Job Corps Construction Craft Laborer Program, a pre-apprenticeship program that helps them build the personal and professional skills required to participate in an apprenticeship. They learn how to use basic construction materials (such as concrete and lumber), identify and care for different types of lumber, and use a variety of tools and constructions structure such as hand levels, transits, plumb-bobs, and scaffolding. Visit for more information. 


The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) works with community and technical colleges throughout the United States to offer certificate programs that help laborers and other construction professionals build their knowledge of construction safety, hazardous materials management, electrical work, and other areas. Contact OSHA for more information. 



Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

While not required, certification in certain areas of construction can help laborers hone their skills and enhance employment prospects. Construction laborers may earn certification in welding, scaffolding, and other areas from organizations such as the American Welding Society, National Center for Construction Education and Research, other professional associations, and unions.  

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No experience is needed for most laborer jobs, but those with prior work experience will increase their chances of landing a job, getting promoted, and possibly earning higher pay.

Construction work is strenuous, so employers seek workers who are physically fit enough to do the job. Laborers must usually be at least 18 years old and reliable, hard working, punctual, and able to follow oral and written instructions.