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What is General Labor? A Brief Guide to Popular Jobs

If you’ve been looking for work, you may have seen ads for “general labor” jobs and wondered what that meant. The term includes a wide variety of jobs in warehouses, factories, construction sites, and many other workplaces, so it may be confusing. All the same, it’s important to know what kinds of tasks you will be expected to perform before you get to work.

Below, we discuss the definition of general labor, the types of work available, and how you can get a general labor job.

What is General Labor?

General labor is physical, hands-on work that doesn’t require much formal training. There are a wide variety of tasks that fall under this category, but most general labor jobs are in manufacturing, logistics, construction, cleaning, and similar sectors.

According to Indeed, the average hourly wage for a general laborer in the United States is $13.81. However, there is a wide range, with some jobs paying substantially more depending on skills, experience, and location.

20 Popular General Labor Jobs (And Their Average Pay)

1. Production Worker Jobs: $13.19

Production workers operate equipment in a warehouse or factory and prepare products for distribution. They may assemble parts by hand or use power tools to solder, drill, weld, and attach. They also monitor warehouse equipment to ensure it works properly. Depending on the job, they may be responsible for attaching labels and other details to finished products and packing products for shipping.

2. Picker/Packer Jobs: $10.24/hour

Packers clean shipping containers, stack goods, label packages, and pack items for shipment. They must be very organized and attentive to detail as they handle packages to ensure the shipping process runs smoothly.

3. Custodian/Janitor Jobs: $12.20/hour

Custodians clean buildings, including all rooms and bathrooms. They use a variety of cleaning methods such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and picking up trash. They often secure the building by closing doors and windows. Custodial workers are especially important during a pandemic because their work helps prevent viruses from spreading.

4. Warehouse Associate Jobs: $12.94/hour

Warehouse associates receive and process goods and materials. They are responsible for packing orders, organizing stock, identifying missing or damaged merchandise, and maintaining a clean and safe working environment. They also transport merchandise to the shipping center for loading.

5. Forklift Operator Jobs: $14.78/hour

Forklift operators use forklifts or industrial trucks to transport heavy materials around warehouses, factories, storage sites, and construction sites. They load and unload items onto large pallets and stack merchandise. Most forklift operators work under a supply chain manager or warehouse manager.

6. Dock Worker Jobs: $33,370/year

Dock workers are responsible for unloading cargo from ships. Typical duties include installing gangways, placing materials on pallets, keeping the dock area clean, and operating forklifts. Dock workers also inspect cargo and mark down any damaged or lost items.

7. Restoration/Mitigation Technician Jobs: $15.15/hour

Restoration technicians perform water mitigation tasks to repair and restore properties that have been damaged by water, fire storms, vandalism, and other events. They scope the damages at the site, develop moisture mapping, create drying-log, and provide documentation to the estimator to be submitted to the insurance company for approval.

8. Carpenter Jobs: $20.73/hr

Carpenters build, install, and repair structures in buildings such as counters, cabinetry, showers, tubs, and vanities. They work with clients to create drafts and prepare drawings of their plans before beginning the building process. Other job requirements include choosing and assessing materials, following building blueprints, installing and leveling framework with rigging hardware, measuring and shaping materials, and following code requirements.

9. Farm laborer Jobs: $13.56/hour

Farm laborers take care of crops and animals. They often help with fertilizing, plowing, operating farm machinery, and inspecting and picking crops. Farm laborers often operate machinery such as tractors, wheelbarrows, and spray fertilizers.

10. Bakery Worker Jobs: $12.22/hour

Bakery workers produce bread and related food products. They follow strict food safety procedures as they maintain a steady production workflow and count, sort, and visually inspect bakery items. Bakery work requires a fair degree of grasping, lifting, moving, stacking, and other manual labor tasks. Some employers prefer candidates to have prior experience in a production line environment.

11. Order Filler Jobs: $13.68

Order fillers work with warehouse teams to handle orders and ensure customers receive their merchandise. They take merchandise that has arrived, unpack it, check for damage, and transport it to its next destination. They also arrange inventory and trace any missing or delayed shipments.

12. Package Handler Jobs: $33,584 per year

Package handlers load and unload boxes on trucks during the warehouse delivery package. This job requires plenty of physical strength to lift and push all types of packages, including heavy packages. However, package handlers must be careful as they handle packages and follow company policies to avoid damage.

13. Maintenance Specialist Jobs: $17.37/hour

Maintenance specialists maintain buildings and machinery. They often do repair work on electrical systems, plumbing, and HVAC systems as well as other aspects of buildings. Maintenance specialists must have some knowledge of the systems they work on to perform their duties.

14. Tree Climber/Trimmer Jobs: $21.66/hour

Tree climbers climb trees so they can prune excess or dead branches and clear branches away from power lines. They often use climbing hooks, ropes, or ladders; while the work can be arduous, climbers generally do not need to climb trees by hand. Tree trimmers typically are not required to have formal training.

15. Arborist Jobs: $22.72/hour

Arborists care for trees and create the designs for park layouts. Their responsibilities often include trimming, pruning, fertilizing, cabling, and bracing shrubs and trees, and may involve supervising a crew. Some employers require arborists to have a certification in landscape design or related field, but many jobs only require on-the-job training to teach new arborists how to work with the equipment, depending on local requirements. Many arborists start out as tree climbers before moving on to other, related positions.

16. Gardener Jobs: $13.33/hour

Gardeners tend to gardens in public areas or on private property. Their tasks include designing the horticultural aspects of the garden, watering plants, weeding, pruning, mowing lawns, and raking leaves. The goal is to maintain a healthy green space that viewers will enjoy. Some gardeners grow vegetables and herbs, while others maintain greenery for visual purposes only.

17. Landscape Technician Jobs: $14.71/hour

Landscape technicians and groundskeepers maintain green spaces such as gardens, parks, and greenhouses. They often perform gardening tasks such as watering plants and fertilizing lawns, but they also work on non-plant aspects of landscapes such as driveways, patios, and walls.

18. Irrigation Technician Jobs: $17.59/hour

Irrigation technicians manage the irrigation systems in parks, gardens, and other outdoor spaces to keep plants well-watered. They map out irrigation areas, install and maintain all of the necessary pumps, valves, and timer systems, dig trenches, test systems, and conduct maintenance checks.

19. Traffic Control Flagger Jobs: $11.68/hour

Flaggers control the flow of traffic around road construction sites. They position barricades and traffic cones, put up warning and detour signs, inform the construction crew of any safety hazards, and direct vehicles around work sites.

20. Pool Technician Jobs: $15.06/hour

Pool technicians maintain public swimming pools by maintaining them and keeping them clean. They clean the water, clean filters, inspect for damage, and report any issues they find. Pool technicians must also maintain stock records and fix pool lights. In some cases, they may evaluate the work of other staff members.

How to Get a General Labor Job

Most general labor jobs do not require extensive qualifications. In many cases, earning a high school diploma or GED and putting together a resume is enough to get an entry level role. However, there are some skills you may want to develop to improve your chances of landing a job:

  • Physical fitness. Building your physical stamina, balance, and strength can help you prepare for jobs that involve heavy physical labor, including moving heavy tools and machinery.
  • Teamwork. Most general labor jobs require working on a team, so it’s good to know how to work effectively with other people and build rapport.
  • Communication skills. General laborers must be able to relay information to other members of their team. Many jobs in the United States require some degree of English language skills, although others do not. If you are bilingual, that’s definitely a plus.

Some jobs may require you to have additional technical skills or knowledge such as machinery repair skills or carpentry skills. However, you can often learn these skills on the job as you work your way up from entry-level general labor positions.

To get an idea of how to qualify for a more advanced role, look at the qualifications section in a few job postings to see which skills, certifications, and experience employers are looking for. For example, you may need welding skills, familiarity with shop machinery, and several years of experience in a plant or machine shop to become a shop foreman. Laborer certifications from the National Association of Safety Professionals or a similar organization can help your resume stand out.

Regardless of which job you are applying for, you will need to create a resume and go through the job application process. If you don’t have any work experience (or don’t have any recent work experience), you can list volunteer work. Try to use keywords that are used on the job posting, especially any requested skills you have. Don’t forget to check over your resume a few times for common mistakes like misspelled words and contact information.

If the person in charge of hiring is interested in you as a candidate, they will reach out to you for an interview. Be sure to research the company beforehand if you can and practice answering common interview questions.

Looking for a General Labor Job in Utah or Kansas City?

LG Resources is a staffing agency specializing in general labor and skilled trades in the manufacturing, logistics, transportation, and clerical industries. We help job seekers throughout Utah and now in Kansas City, Kansas to find jobs that match their skills and experience.

We often place candidates within 1-2 days, depending on employer needs. If you are looking for a general labor job, apply with LG today.

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