what is a general labourer?

As a general labourer, you perform manual work that requires physical strength and fitness. Your duties range from moving items in a warehouse to digging trenches on building sites. Most labourers are employed in the construction industry, performing manual or physical tasks like laying foundations, bricklaying or plastering. You also assist tradespeople with various duties. For instance, you assist carpenters with window fitting tasks and help plumbers carry out repairs and maintenance jobs. Since you work in various trades, your role may involve handling dangerous materials, such as chemicals or asbestos.

Most general labourer duties require you to follow instructions and perform simple tasks assigned by a supervisor. You will likely operate hand tools to prepare job sites or building materials. Some roles also require operating heavy machinery. For example, you move items in warehouses using a forklift. That means you need skills in operating and maintaining forklifts. At the end of the day, you also clean workspaces and tidy up the job site.

Some necessary general labourer skills include high-level fitness and physical strength. The role involves a lot of manual work, like lifting items and moving materials. Attention to detail and teamwork skills are also important, enabling you to complete your tasks meticulously.

Would working as a general labourer suit your high level of fitness and physical strength? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a general labourer role.

general labourer jobs

average general labourer salary

According to Job Bank, general labourers earn an average salary of $32,446 per year, which translates to $16.64 per hour. Entry-level positions attract lower earnings due to the minimum experience required. When starting in the role, the annual salary of a general labourer is $29,250, whereas experienced labourers have the potential to take home earnings of over $40,623 per year.

what factors affect the salary of a general labourer?

As a general labourer, your earnings depend on your duties. When you perform simple duties, such as moving items or cleaning surfaces, your salary is lower than general labourers trained to operate specialized machinery or equipment. Your experience also influences your earnings. After gaining years of experience, you are likely to earn more due to the additional skills you bring to the table.

The industry you work in affects your earnings. When you work in construction, you require skills in mixing building materials or operating equipment used for demolition. Hence, you have the potential to earn more than a general labourer who works in a warehouse environment. Working in manufacturing industries may involve cleaning chemical spills or contaminants on the production floors. Dealing with hazardous materials increases your salary expectations since it requires additional training on health and safety requirements.

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types of general labourers

Though a general labourer is an all-around handyman, you can specialize in various fields and learn multiple skills. Some of the different types of labourers include:

  • construction labourers: as a construction labourer, you perform general manual work, including groundwork. Examples include marking and digging trenches for foundations. You also fix bars or steelwork to reinforce concrete structures, and you sometimes move bricks, mortar and timber around the construction site.
  • warehouse labourers: your job is to load and offload deliveries at the warehouse. You work alongside warehouse teams to package and load products onto trucks, ensuring on-time deliveries. You also organize the warehouse to ensure products are stored correctly.
  • labourers: as a general labourer, you work in any industry and perform manual tasks assigned to you. General labourers usually work in manufacturing companies, retail stores and production plants. You assist in the production process by cleaning and clearing work sites.
blue collar workers on a break
blue collar workers on a break

working as a general labourer

Working as a general labourer involves helping professionals complete their duties by handling manual work. If you are interested in the role, check out the specific tasks, work schedule and job prospects of a general labourer.


general labourer skills and education

Some of the requirements for becoming a general labourer include:

  • on-the-job training: you will receive training on the equipment used in your role and general safety for working in manufacturing or construction environments. On-the-job training is usually available for general labourers with secondary education.
  • work experience: any previous work experience prepares you for a general labourer role. To get started in the role, gain experience through volunteer programs and other short-term jobs.

competencies and characteristics of general labourers

Apart from basic education, the following competencies are vital in the role of a general labourer:

  • physical fitness: as a general labourer, you should be physically fit and strong enough to handle manual tasks. You lift heavy items and often stand or bend for long periods. Manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination are also important for the role.
  • teamwork skills: as a general labourer, you work alongside a large team of construction workers, collaborating with others to accomplish your tasks on time. People skills improve your listening, which means you will be better at following your supervisor's instructions.
  • mechanical skills: as a general labourer, you need basic skills in using various machines at construction sites. Your expertise in using handheld devices and maintaining them makes your job easier.
  • attention to detail: as a general labourer, it is important to follow instructions keenly to avoid mistakes. Your detail-oriented skills help you maintain a high level of work quality. When working in manufacturing, your attentiveness to detail is also useful since you handle dangerous chemicals and hazardous materials.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a general labourer.


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