The versatility of the craft laborer makes him or her essential
to the completion of any project.
Construction Craft Laborers are the most diverse and versatile trade
professionals in the construction industry. Construction Craft Laborers
are able to perform a number of skills and take part in every type
of project. All other trade professionals depend on laborers for
their multifaceted array of skills.
The term laborer belies the complex and critical functions they
perform, and their skill with high tech equipment. For instance,
they operate pipe-laying machinery and use computers and other high-tech
input devices such as lasers and transits. Among the critical work
functions performed by construction craft laborers are:
||• Move, store and supply
construction and building materials for all types of construction
• Recognize and mitigate safety hazards including hazardous
hazards and accident conditions at any type of
• Maintain and supply hand tools, power tools, and equipment
for all types of tasks
• Build structures and infrastructures such as buildings,
houses, bridges, dams , tunnels, utilities
and/or disassemble and remove structures and buildings
Prepare and layout sites for construction activities
Abate all types of environmental hazards
These are just some of the skills and duties of the construction
craft laborer. Some laborers choose to specialize in a particular
skill, mainly critical functions such as demolition or environmental
remediation. Others remain generalists, building all-around skills
that allow them to work on a wide range of projects.
|Journeyman Building Construction
|$25.30 - $26.55 per hour
$24.95 - $27.40
||• Family Health Benefits
• Pension and Annuity Funds
• Disability Insurance
• Vacation Fund
Craft laborers work in a large variety of conditions that
vary depending on the type of project or the specialty the individual
performs. Lifting heavy materials, working in tight spaces and operating
heavy equipment like jackhammers are all part of the laborer’s
As laborers are often relied upon to work with hazardous materials,
they are thoroughly trained in safely handling such materials.
Because of their versatility and the multitude of critical functions
they perform, the career prospects for craft laborers are very good.
The federal government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)
projects that demand for laborers will grow at about 10 to 20 percent
over the next decade.
The variety of duties ensures that a construction craft laborer
has generous career opportunities and those that obtain a number
of skills improve their ability to find work during economic downturns
and also improve their chance of attaining supervisory level positions.
Growth of construction laborer employment will be spurred by continuing
emphasis on environmental remediation and on rebuilding infrastructure,
according to the OOH.
Specialist vs. Generalists -- Craft laborers who choose to remain
as generalists are most likely to ascend to supervisory positions
faster because of their all-around knowledge. Those who choose to
specialize on the other hand become experts in a particular skill
and are in high demand because of their intimate knowledge of critical
Construction Labor apprentices must complete at least 4,000 hours
of on the job training and 400 additional hours of classroom training
before they graduate to journeyman status. The typical apprenticeship
lasts two years.
The first 1,600 to 2,100 hours of on the job apprentice training
are spent learning general skills. General skills include site preparation
and maintenance; the recognition, preparation, operation and maintenance
of tools (both hand and power), equipment and material; and safety.
The remainder of apprenticeship training is spent learning the
three specialty areas of building construction, heavy/highway construction
and environmental remediation.
In the classroom education component, there is a core curriculum
and choices of electives.
The core curriculum is comprised of blue print reading, craft orientation,
first aid/CPR, general construction, hazard communication, mason
tending, pipe laying, concrete and OSHA safety.
Electives from which apprentices choose from are asbestos abatement,
asphalt, foreman preparedness, hazardous waste worker, lead abatement,
line and grade, mason tending, radiation remediation, underground
storage tank removal.
On-the-job training involves assignment to a qualified employer.
The apprentice learns his or her skills while taking part in the
completion of real projects. Not only is the education free but
the apprentice earns wages and benefits.
Each Apprentice begins by earning 60 percent of the journeyman
wage rate. After 1,000 hours and 80 hours of class time are completed,
the apprentice's wage increases to 70 percent; after 2,000 hours
it increases to 80 percent; and after 3,000 hours it increases to
Apprentices are entered into the craft laborers pension and welfare
fund immediately, earning contributions into those funds at the
regular journeyman rate.
To qualify for the apprenticeship program, candidates must meet
the following qualifications:
||• At least 18 years old
• High school diploma or GED
• Valid drivers
• Candidates must be able to read and speak
• Must pass a Department of Transportation
After applying and taking an orientation class, apprenticeship candidates
take a Work Keys Skills Assessment Test. Apprentice candidates are
expected to complete Applied Mathematics and Reading for Information
questions at Level 3 of the Work Keys exam.
The following categories give a general overview of the types
of work craft laborers are called on to perform. However, because
of the vast flexibility of this profession, these synopses only
provide a thumbnail sketch of the tasks these professionals carry
out on a daily basis.
In the building construction specialty area, craft laborers are
part of a multifaceted team of professionals that erect and finish
major structures such as office buildings, factories, arenas, parking
garages, research facilities, power plants and schools.
The building construction category involves mixing, handling and
placing of cement, concrete and other building materials; erecting
and maintaining scaffolds, handling and stocking building materials;
and excavating construction sites.
Craft laborers working in this specialty area work alongside carpenters,
ironworkers and bricklayers – performing a multitude of job-critical
In the heavy highway and utility construction category, craft laborers
responsibilities include concrete placement and finishing, asphalt
surfacing; joining, installing and repairing pipe systems; setting
elevation and aligning control stakes to ensure road surfaces are
level; and laying out and constructing traffic barriers and safety
As the term indicates, this specialty helps build the highways,
bridges and tunnels that make transportation possible. They play
a major role throughout the entire process -- from setting up the
concrete traffic barriers, to coordinating with other trades professionals
to put necessary pipes in place, level the surface area and lay
the surface material.
Craft laborers in this specialty also help build the utility infrastructure,
including water, storm, sewer and gas piping, and electric and telephone
Restoring contaminated buildings and Brownfield sites, cleaning
up oil and chemical spills, and removing asbestos and lead from
older structures are part of this category. They also are experts
at abating the damage from the release of radioactive materials,
such as from accidents at nuclear sites. The men and women who specialize
in this area truly perform a vital service.
The primary duties in the environmental remediation category include
operating and maintaining air sampling equipment, and interpreting
the data. Craft laborers also set up and maintain decontamination
systems, remove and dispose of hazardous materials and build work
area enclosures. Often craft laborers build and maintain their work
areas when handling these cleanup situations.
Craft laborers performing this type of work regularly wear the
latest protective suits and use state of the art breathing equipment.
Their reliance on these suits requires them to become experts in
their care and use.
Because of the nature of this important work, craft laborers who work
in this category are experts at handling sensitive substances and
are well versed in the latest protective garments.
Students who have the following characteristics, are ideal candidates
for the construction craft laborers profession:
||• Good manual dexterity,
hand-eye coordination, and balance.
• Ability to read and comprehend all warning and safety
signs and labels on a construction site and the
reading skills sufficient to understand and interpret plans,
drawings, and written instructions and specifications.
• Possess basic problem-solving
and math skills.
• Very diligent about being on time
• Capable of working as a member of a team.
|Students interested in a career in the craft
labor professions should contact:
||Joseph Zipfel, Apprentice Coordinator
||New Jersey Construction Craft Laborers Apprenticeship Program
31 Mott Avenue
Monroe Township, NJ 08831
||Also for more information log onto www.njlaborers.org
||Heavy Highway and Construction Laborers|
Laborers Local 472 Safety Education & Training Center
Laborers Local 172 Safety Education & Training Center