What Does a General Laborer Do?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2019
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A general laborer is an unskilled worker who will perform various tasks within construction or industrial settings. The qualifications to become a general laborer are low, as no specific level of education or training is necessary, though the laborer may receive on the job training specific to the job he or she will perform. Most of the jobs the laborer will perform will be fairly simple and often repetitive; it is likely that the job will require a certain level of physical fitness, especially in construction settings.

Some of the tasks a general laborer may be responsible for include setting up or otherwise preparing a job site; assisting skilled laborers or performing preparatory tasks so the skilled laborers will not have to; operating various pieces of machinery; and tearing down a job site when a job is completed. The setup or preparation phase may include cordoning off an area, setting up road cones or fencing, haul equipment to the site, hold stop signs or direct traffic, and transport materials to and from the site. Once the job site is prepared and skilled laborers and managers move in, the general laborer will be responsible for performing any task assigned to him or her by superiors. This may include digging holes, operating various machinery, setting up scaffolding, acting as a guide for heavy machinery operators, and so on.


Once a job is complete, the general laborer will be responsible for cleaning up any leftover raw materials, breaking down and storing scaffolding for transport, packing up tools and machinery, tearing down fences or cones, and otherwise cleaning up the site so it can be used on a regular basis. These are all construction tasks, though a general laborer can work in other settings that may be inside a factory or in another outdoor location. An unskilled laborer in a factory may, for example, work on an assembly line as an inspection worker, a packaging worker, or as an assembler who installs various components into an item to be manufactured.

General laborers usually get paid minimum wage or better. If he or she wants to get paid more, the general laborer will need to take part in training that will qualify him or her for a higher position. Education is another way to move up within a company; manufacturers and construction companies are increasingly interested in hiring employees with at least a high school education, if not some post-secondary schooling.


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Post 3

The contractors I work with when I am renovating old houses all use general laborers because they are able to get good workers without paying a high price. In turn, the people working as general labors get experience at a profession and hopefully they eventually get more training and start making more money or they go in business for themselves.

This is like being an apprentice in the best of situations, and a way to earn a little money if nothing else.

Post 2

@Feryll - There are some employment agencies that you can go to early in the morning and sign a sheet for general laborer work. You sign up and get your name put on a list. Then contractors who need workers for that day come to the agency, and the person at the agency goes down the list and picks the names.

Some places have a lot of people trying to find work, so you'll need to get there early to get your name on the top of the list so you will have a better chance of getting picked for an assignment. And they pay daily, so this makes the whole process easier, and motivates you to come back, too.

Post 1

We've been doing a good bit of work around our house and the repair bills are adding up, so I have been looking in the want ad sections online for ways to make a little extra money to pay for the home repair projects that we want to do.

When I am looking, I always see there are daily positions for people who want to work as general laborers. I wasn't sure what a general laborer was, but the pay seems to be okay. I won't get rich, but if I work a few Saturdays I can save and do some of the projects we are thinking about completing.

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