PLEASE NOTE: Job profile content may reflect pre-COVID-19 conditions.

Building and Construction Labourer

Kaimahi Whaihanga

Alternative titles for this job

Building and construction labourers do a wide range of physical work on building sites, roads and other large civil construction projects. 


Building and construction labourers usually earn

$23-$30 per hour

Experienced building and construction labourers usually earn

$25-$40 per hour

Source: Hays, Madison, & research, 2022.

Job opportunities

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


Pay for building and construction labourers varies depending on skills, experience, the type of work they do and the region they're working in.

  • Building and construction labourers usually earn between minimum wage and $30 an hour.
  • Experienced building and construction labourers can earn between $25 and $40 an hour.

Source: Hays, 2022; Madison, '2022 NZ Employment Market Report – Industrial', 2022; and research, 2022.

(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 put up 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
  • clean up worksites. 

Skills and knowledge

Building and construction labourers need to have:

  • practical skills
  • knowledge of basic building and construction 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 hazardous.

What's the job really like?

Building and construction video

Why choose a career in building and construction – 1.32 mins. (Video courtesy of the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation)

Troy: I chose building and carpentry because I just love being outside and seeing something coming from nothing, from the ground up.

Cody: You can work closely with other people. You can have a laugh at the same time as doing your job, doing your work.

Cale: When I left school I wanted to be a builder. I went away from it, I worked as a snowboard instructor. The opportunity came up for the apprenticeship and I took it. I haven't looked back.

Scott: I just love the atmosphere that you come to. You come to work, you're with a bunch of dudes who are here to do the same thing as you. There is no rivalry in it, its just camaraderie more so.

Desiree: I get to see a house from start to finish. I make a house look beautiful.

William: It's just a great industry to be in. There's plenty of opportunities out there for you to further yourself. There's so many different aspects to building that you don't realise until you start doing it.

Anna: Yeah it's all go. You're learning something, you're being taught something, you're practising something.

Cody: I get to earn money while I learn, thats the cool thing, I don't have to be in any student debt.

Troy: A whole lot of good people you get to meet, the big sites you get to work on.

Anna: The benefit of being an apprentice is that you are learning so much every day.

Cale: When you complete, you're a qualified tradesman. You don't go to university, study for four years and then go into an internship. You come out qualified, ready to go.

Bill: I get a real kick at the end of the day when I stand back and I can see what I've done in my day's work. It's cool to be able to know that "Hey look, I built that."

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a building and construction labourer as you gain skills on the job.

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but 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 and efficient
  • observant, with an eye for detail
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to work with a wide range of tradespeople. 

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

Building and construction labourers need to to be fit, healthy and strong as the work can be physically demanding. 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 - -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Growth in building work means good opportunities for building and construction labourers

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

  • moderate growth in construction predicted to extend until at least the end of 2023, meaning more building contractor work
  • the Government’s KiwiBuild programme, involving the building of quality, affordable homes over the next decade
  • building work needed to upgrade leaky homes and earthquake-prone buildings.

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.

High turnover of building and construction labourers

Job vacancies for building and construction labourers are common because:

  • employers often hire building and construction labourers for short-term contracts
  • turnover among workers can be high
  • building and construction labourers may move into trades training. 

According to the Census, 11,382 building and construction labourers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Most building and construction labourers work for building firms 

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


  • BRANZ and Pacifecon, 'National Construction Pipeline Report 7', August 2019, (
  • Cooke, H, 'Govt unveils $12b infrastructure boost, much of it focused on roads and rail, 11 December 2019, ( 
  • Florence, G, chief executive, Certified Builders Association, interview, December 2019
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Occupation Outlook - Construction Workers', accessed January 2020, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

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

Progression and specialisations

With further training, building and construction labourers may progress to become scaffolders, carpenters and building contractors or move into other trades.

Building and construction labourers may specialise in:

  • concrete work
  • brick and blocklaying
  • road construction
  • fencing 
  • drainlaying.
Building labourer drilling into concrete under a bridge

Building and construction labourers drill into concrete when working on roads

Last updated 3 April 2023