Building and Construction Labourer

Kaimahi Whaihanga

Alternative titles for this job

Building and construction labourers clear, dig and level land, make concrete, and help with plumbing and drainage work on roads and building sites.


Building and construction labourers usually earn

$18-$30 per hour

Source: Seek jobs and Trade Me Jobs, 2017.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a building and construction labourer are good due to a construction boom.


Pay for building and construction labourers varies between employers and regions and depends on the work being done.

  • Most building and construction labourers earn between minimum wage and $20 an hour.
  • Skilled building and construction labourers can earn between $20 and $30 an hour.

Sources: Seek jobs, 2017; and Trade Me Jobs, 'Salary Guide', October 2016 – March 2017.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Building and construction labourers may do some or all of the following:

  • help erect scaffolding and construct or demolish buildings
  • level ground, dig trenches and lay pipes or cables
  • make and maintain roads, pathways or railways
  • pour and finish concrete
  • operate machines such as mowers or concrete breakers
  • move equipment and materials, and clean up worksites.

Skills and knowledge

Building and construction labourers need to have:

  • practical skills
  • an understanding of basic building methods and terms
  • knowledge of worksite safety rules
  • knowledge of correct lifting techniques.

They may also need to be able to operate heavy machinery or drive heavy vehicles.

Working conditions

Building and construction labourers:

  • usually work eight-hour days, and may work weekends
  • work on construction and demolition sites, gardens, farms, roadsides and bushland
  • work outdoors in all types of weather, and in conditions that may be noisy, dirty and dangerous.

What's the job really like?

Daniel La'avli

Daniel La'avli

Building and Construction Labourer

Daniel reckons labouring is far from boring

After three years working as a building and construction labourer, Daniel La'avli is far from bored. He says the work can be hard but it's always different, and you get a sense of accomplishment on seeing the job done.

"It's not like factory work where you do the same thing every day. Here you see progress and it's always good to see that. When you see a completed building it's quite a good feeling – you can look at it and say you've taken part in building that."

A training course helped Daniel pick up skills more quickly

Daniel says a National Certificate in Trades Skills helped get him up to pace with the demands of the job. However, he picked up most of the practical skills on the job. "The course gives you an inside look at different kinds of trades. On the job I've learned to use tools, organising skills, and things like that."

Daniel plans to do more study – a carpentry course and look into doing an apprenticeship. "The pay's OK – it's always good to have a little money but the more skills you pick up, the more money you can ask for."

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a building and construction labourer, as you gain skills on the job. Some businesses have training programmes in skills such as driving heavy vehicles or operating heavy machinery.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a building and construction labourer. However, NCEA Level 2 English, maths, construction and mechanical technologies and physical education are useful. 

Personal requirements

Building and construction labourers need to be:

  • safety-conscious
  • hard-working, efficient and adaptable
  • observant, with an eye for detail
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to work with a wide range of people
  • good at using and caring for equipment.

You've got to be hands-on, efficient and willing to learn. If you're not sure of something you get the foreman to show you a plan of what needs to be done.

Photo: Raymond Mannex

Raymond Mannex

Building and Construction Labourer

Useful experience

Useful experience for building and construction labourers includes:

  • building work
  • farm or engineering work
  • work involving physical labour, such as gardening or road construction.

Physical requirements

Labouring is physically demanding work, so building and construction labourers need to be fit, healthy and strong, with no back problems. They may also need to be comfortable working at heights.

Find out more about training

Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO)
0800 422 486 - -
The Skills Organisation
0508 754 557 -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Demand for building and construction labourers is good due to:

  • a construction boom that is predicted to last until 2021, meaning more building work
  • the extra 22,000 houses that are needed over the next 10 years in Auckland
  • building work needed to upgrade leaky homes and earthquake-prone buildings 
  • building, roading and rail work to repair earthquake damage in Wellington and Kaikoura
  • the Christchurch rebuild, which is predicted to extend until at least the end of 2017
  • Government plans to spend over $13 billion on transport networks between 2015 and 2018  
  • the $850 million Transmission Gully project north of Wellington, which is expected to be under construction until 2020.

However, like many building jobs, this role can be affected by economic conditions. A downturn in the economy can lower demand for building and construction labourers. You can increase your chances of keeping work in downturns by being reliable and taking any training opportunities you are given. 

High turnover contributes to work opportunities

Employers often hire building and construction labourers for short-term contracts. Turnover among workers can be high, so positions tend to come up regularly.

Types of employers varied

Building and construction labourers work for small or large firms within the building and construction industry.


  • BRANZ and Pacifecon, 'National Construction Pipeline Report 4', July 2016, (
  • Hays, '2017 Hays Salary Survey', 2017.
  • McClintock, J, operations manager, Certified Builders Association, Careers New Zealand interview, June 2016.
  • National Infrastructure Unit, 'The Thirty-Year New Zealand Infrastructure Plan 2015', accessed March 2016, (
  • New Zealand Transport Agency, 'Transmission Gully', accessed March 2016, (

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Building and construction labourers may work in specific areas such as bricklaying, paving or drainlaying.

They often work alongside tradespeople and may gain skills that allow them to move into apprenticeships for specific trades such as carpentry or bricklaying.

Last updated 1 April 2019