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What Is a General Labor and How to Become One

What Is General Labor?

General Labor is a career field that encompasses jobs in many industries, including cleaning, construction, and manufacturing. As a General Laborer, you perform a variety of tasks, from simple activities like sweeping or shoveling to specialized work like using blow torches or forklifts. The complete services that a General Laborer provides depend on their workplace, which could be a construction site, a warehouse, or a manufacturing plant, as well as their qualifications and experience.

How to Become a General Laborer

To become a General Laborer, there is typically no education requirement, but you can increase your earning potential by developing your skills both in the classroom and on the job. However, taking a formal apprenticeship usually requires a high school diploma or equivalent. General Laborer jobs require strength, stamina, communication skills, and reliability, but higher-paying specialized jobs require further qualifications such as trade apprenticeships, safety training, certifications, and state licenses. In addition, employers consider prior experience using power tools and machinery and being fluent in English and Spanish as valuable skills.

What Are Different Types of General Labor Jobs?

There are many different types of General Labor jobs, particularly in warehouses, construction, and manufacturing. Early-career General Laborers typically perform basic tasks such as cleaning job sites or lifting and moving equipment and materials. More experienced General Laborers get to work with specialized tools and equipment to perform more complex tasks, like operating forklifts, saws, grinders, blowtorches, and other machinery.

Are General Labor Jobs in Demand?

General Labor jobs are in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that General Laborer jobs will grow by as much as 13 percent by 2024. Staffing agencies and independent companies are hiring General Laborers to work in construction, manufacturing, and warehouse jobs. To become a General Laborer, you need to be 18 years old, and a high school diploma or GED certificate is preferred. General Laborers receive on-the-job training to learn the skills required for a particular job.

What Are Some General Labor Jobs?

The most common General Labor jobs are in construction, manufacturing, and warehouses. The job duties of General Laborers depend on their employer’s needs. For example, a General Laborer at a road construction site may hold signs and help direct traffic. Other General Laborer responsibilities include cleaning up job sites, loading and unloading materials, and assisting skilled laborers like carpenters and electricians. Experienced General Laborers work with more specialized tools and equipment.

General Labor Job Description Sample

With this General Labor job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a General Labor role.

Job Summary

We are seeking a skilled, reliable general laborer to join our growing company. In this position, you will be responsible for assisting contractors, operating heavy machinery, and following all site health and safety regulations. A strong work ethic and attention to detail are essential.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Unload tools, prepare building site materials, stack building materials, and set up equipment
  • Follow project instructions from construction manager or supervisor
  • Consult with construction plans
  • Direct traffic safely around the construction or road maintenance site
  • Use construction and maintenance tools and equipment to complete daily tasks
  • Follow all health and safety regulations when operating equipment
  • Ensure regulated and proper headgear, earplugs, gloves, safety glasses, and clothing are worn
  • Complete all assigned tasks in a timely and efficient manner
  • Assist in building scaffolding and temporary structures
  • Safely operate a variety of tools including pressure washers, jackhammers, drills, saws, grinders, and blowtorches
  • Prepare new construction sites by digging, moving dirt, or compacting space
  • Provide assistance to contractors (i.e. craft workers, electricians, painters) as needed
  • Clean and clear debris and hazardous materials
  • Ensure construction equipment and tools are cleaned and stored properly

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High school degree or equivalent educational experience; vocational school or trade apprenticeships a plus
  • State licensure to work with hazardous materials preferred but not required; union certification preferred but not required
  • Must be 18 years of age
  • Ability to physically stand, bend, squat, and lift up to 40 pounds
  • Must be comfortable climbing up tall ladders, working at elevated levels
  • Positive attitude and work ethic
  • Able to work independently or as an active member of a team
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and communication with all levels of management
  • English and Spanish fluency a plus