what is a labourer?

As a 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 or mining and resources industries to do manual or physical work, such as laying foundations, bricklaying or plastering. You also assist tradespeople with various duties. For instance, you may help carpenters with window fitting tasks or aid plumbers with repairs and maintenance tasks. Since you work in various trades, your role may involve handling dangerous materials, like chemicals or asbestos.

Most labourer duties require you to follow instructions and perform simple tasks assigned to you by a supervisor. You are likely to operate hand tools to prepare job sites or building materials. Some roles also require operating heavy machinery. For instance, in warehouses, you move items using a forklift. That means you need skills in operating and maintaining forklifts when working as a warehouse labourer. Labourers also clean work areas and tidy job sites at the end of the workday.

Some skills necessary for the role include high-level fitness and physical strength. Since you perform manual tasks, you need physical strength and stamina to work on your feet most of the day. Attention to detail and teamwork are also important for completing your tasks meticulously.

view labourer vacancies

average labourer salary

The median salary of labourers in Australia is $60,000 per year. However, the remuneration package may fluctuate based on area of specialisation and experience. Entry-level labourers perform simple manual tasks to assist other professionals, while experienced labourers have the additional expertise required to undertake complex duties. That's why entry-level labourers start with a salary of $55,000 annually, while experienced labourers earn over $65,000 yearly.

how to increase your salary as a labourer

As a labourer, your remuneration depends on your expertise, skills and the employer. Increase your earnings by improving your educational qualifications. Industry certifications and vocational education training courses may boost your earnings. Ensure you also build your skills with internships, traineeships and entry-level jobs. When you are an expert in your duties, you can negotiate higher remuneration.

Aside from building your skills, choose employers offering higher salaries. While working for a small company is a great way to build your skills, consider seeking opportunities in large companies to improve your salary prospects. Large organisations have complex duties and more resources, so they can afford higher salaries. The industry you work in may also influence your earnings due to the complexity of your duties. For instance, a labourer in a warehouse is likely to earn less than a labourer in the construction or mining industry.

Want to know what you will earn as a labourer? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of labourers

A labourer is an all-round handyman. However, there are specialisation areas in various fields. You can become a general labourer, construction labourer or warehouse labourer. As a construction labourer, you perform general manual work, including groundwork like marking and digging trenches for foundations. You also fix bars and steelwork to reinforce concrete structures. Sometimes, you move bricks, mortar and timber around the construction site.

As a warehouse labourer, you load and offload deliveries at the warehouse. You work alongside warehouse teams to ensure products are packaged and loaded onto delivery trucks on time. You also organise the warehouse to ensure products are correctly stored. General labourers work in any industry and perform manual tasks assigned to them. For instance, you can work in manufacturing companies, retail stores or production plants. You assist in the production process by cleaning and clearing work sites.

work with Randstad and build a career in construction & property, engineering
work with Randstad and build a career in construction & property, engineering

working as a labourer

If you have a passion for hands-on work, embarking on a career as a laborer can be an thrilling career journey. Keep reading to gain insight into the responsibilities and diverse work settings that define this role.


education and skills

While formal qualifications are not mandatory for labourers in Australia, having some qualifications improves your employment prospects. The first step in becoming a labourer is to choose the industry you want to work in, including manufacturing, construction or landscaping. You can find relevant TAFE courses to improve your skills in the industry. For instance, pursue a Certificate II in construction to improve your building and construction skills.

If you want to become a construction labourer, you need a White Card. Complete training with a registered training organisation (RTO) to prepare you for work safety in the construction industry. The RTO providing the training should be authorised by WorkSafe. White Card certification becomes invalid if you don’t work in construction for two years. Some industries also have safety or equipment certification requirements.

labourer skills and competencies

Apart from basic education, the following competencies are vital in the role:

  • physical fitness: as a labourer, you need physical fitness and enough strength to handle manual tasks. You will lift heavy weights and stand or bend for long hours. Manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination are also crucial for the role.
  • teamwork skills: as a 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 instructions from supervisors.
  • mechanical skills: as a labourer, you need basic skills in using various machines at a construction site. Your expertise in using handheld devices and maintaining them makes your work easier. Having maintenance skills also comes in handy since you do repairs and clean the machines and tools at the end of a workday.
  • attention to detail: as a labourer, you follow instructions keenly to avoid mistakes. Your detail-oriented skills help you improve work quality.

FAQs about working as a labourer

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

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.