Roading Construction Worker
Kaimahi Hanga Rori
Roading construction workers make surfaces such as roads, airport runways and driveways, and control traffic around road construction sites.
Roading constructruction workers usually earn
$17-$20 per hour
Source: Careers New Zealand research, 2017
Pay for roading construction workers varies depending on the type of work they are involved in, their level of experience and responsibility, and their location.
- Roading construction workers usually earn $17 to $20 an hour.
- Specialist machine operators and team leaders can earn more than this.
Source: Careers New Zealand research, 2017
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum pay rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Roading construction workers may do some or all of the following:
- dig up road surfaces and prepare them for resealing
- do general labouring and carpentry duties
- operate heavy machinery such as graders and rollers
- pour and smooth concrete and asphalt
- check and maintain machinery and equipment
- direct and control traffic moving around their construction site.
Skills and knowledge
Roading construction workers may need to have knowledge of:
- how to drive vehicles
- operating heavy equipment and machinery
- the materials they use, such as asphalt, road metals, and drainage pipes
- road construction methods and roadmarking.
Many roading construction workers start out with few or no skills but learn skills on the job.
Roading construction workers:
- usually work irregular hours and often work early mornings and during weekends, and may also do shift work and be on call. They generally work longer hours in summer when more roading construction work happens
- work outdoors at locations such as roads, airport runways and driveways
- work in most weather conditions and in conditions that may be noisy, wet, cold, dirty and dusty.
What's the job really like?
School student Gloria drives a digger and finds out what's it like to work in the civil infrastructure industry – 6.01 mins. (Video courtesy of InfraTrain - now Connexis)
Clinton: You might think we’re taking Gloria on a surfing holiday, but this will be no holiday. For we’ve come to Raglan to mend roads. New Zealand has a very extensive network of rural roads and keeping them in good order is no small job.
Gloria’s mentor is Don Stevens.
Don: There’ll be no time for surfing this morning. Because we’ve got plenty of work to do.
Clinton: Don is road maintenance supervisor for Tanlaw, the Waikato’s road maintenance company. Tanlaw have to systematically inspect every road, sealed and unsealed, in their area.
When faults are found the position is marked and the detail logged.
Don: When we’re out there – it’s hard work. There’s a lot of sweat and tears that goes into providing a good surface for our clients.
It’s dusty out there, you’re out in the weather, in the rain and the sun. It requires a person that is pretty hardy.
Clinton: First job – marking up a high shoulder – a section where grass is preventing good drainage.
Gloria: Trust me with it? [A roadmarking implement]
Don: You’ll be fine – girl power!
The type of people that you need in the construction industry – maintenance and construction – are people that are reliable for a start, have good work ethics, people that are self-driven.
We're looking for people that enjoy the outdoors, the physical side of things, have certain skills. Licences are a big plus within our industry.
[Gloria marks the road with the implement]
Very good! That’s our high shoulder marked up. Now all we have to do is load it in the PDA.
Clinton: GPS tells them where they are and the PDA is used to record all faults. The faults could be drainage problems, pot hole problems, or shiny surface problems.
Fixing faults in public car parks are part of the job too.
Don: As you can see down here, Gloria, the car park area here’s started to break up. The metal’s unravelling and it needs to be strengthened. So we’ll bring in a hoe, and a stabilisation gang, and they’ll fix this.
Clinton: First water, and then cement is laid on the surface.
Don: Dealing with certain chemicals, cements, limes, you have to be trained to know how to use them properly because safety’s paramount.
Clinton: The hoe then churns up the existing road materials and blends them with the cement. It’s like mixing one giant rock cake.
Gloria: Ok? To start? [She points to a lever]
Don: Yeah, you won’t break anything, this is a man’s toy!
Gloria: [laughs] Shut up!
Clinton: There’s no shortage of toys on this job. Each machine is designed for a specific task, which means each driver requires specialised training.
Don: Just today, we’ve brought out our newest, most shiny truck.
So what they’ve done, they’ve sprayed on an emulsion, a 180-200 emulsion mixed with kerosene, and then they’ve come in with the trucks and spread a layer of grade three chip, and they’ll go and spray again, and apply a grade five chip, which is a smaller chip.
Then you’ll be able to jump on the roller, and give it a good pounding!
Clinton: There’s a thorough driving lesson, and Gloria’s given a go. [She drives the digger]
Gloria: It was fun! And it was coooool!
Clinton: At this site, there’s been a very big slip. Thousands of tonnes of fill are being tipped to provide a wider and safer roadway.
Brock Orbell, currently in his third year of apprenticeship, is one of the team here.
Gloria: So I think you really enjoy doing this?
Brock: Yeah, I do enjoy doing it. I never thought I’d do it, I joined the work force here and didn’t know anything about it, didn’t know how to drive trucks or rollers or diggers.
So I can do all that now, So yeah it’s been a good learning curve.
Clinton: Brock intends to train for another five years, in order to advance his qualifications.
Brock: I know it’s a hell of a long time to do an apprenticeship for, but, you know, at the end of the day, sitting in an office and earning a lot of money – pretty choice!
Gloria: Yeah, no complaints!
Clinton: Well another load of fill’s arrived, and someone’s got to shift it.
[Gloria is in the cab of a digger with Don outside]
Don: Right hand forward.
Gloira: Right hand forward?
Don : Right hand forward and down.
We have a lot of staff training. Tanlaw puts a lot of money into getting people up to speed, getting their licences, ranging from your graders, your back hoes, your diggers…
[to Gloria] And swing around quietly.
Don: And place that metal out.
Don: I think for the amount of time she had to practise, she was amazing. She’s got plenty of potential there, she picked up what I told her very quick. She’d be a great digger operator.
Gloria: The machinery was fun. Like they always say boys and their toys. What about girls and their toys? That was fun!
Don: yes she cottons on to things really fast, she listens, I think she’d be a great team player, I think we’d have no problem hiring her in the future and I think she’d be a great team prospect.
Clinton: To enter the civil construction industry, you can train on the job with the aim of achieving national certificate qualifications [now New Zealand Certificates].
For school leavers there are modern apprenticeships [now New Zealand apprenticeships} and cadetships available in the industry.
Infratrain [now Competenz] also offers senior school students the Gateway programme which provides an opportunity for hands-on workplace learning in the civil construction industry while still at school.
The job outlook for roading construction workers is excellent as the number of people employed is expected to increase.
To become a roading construction worker you need:
- a minimum of a restricted car driver's licence, but employers usually prefer a full licence
- to pass pre-employment medical and drug tests, and a police check.
Roading construction workers gain skills on the job. Most start as labourers and move into more specialised roles as they gain skills and qualifications.
Connexis Industry Training Organisation oversees New Zealand apprenticeships in roading construction.
- Connexis website - information on pavement surfacing qualifications
- Information on New Zealand Apprenticeships
A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include English, maths and science.
For Year 11 to 13 students, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain industry experience. These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.
Roading construction workers need to be:
- able to follow instructions
- patient and careful
- responsible and motivated
- alert and safety-conscious
- able to work independently and in teams
- able to read plans and maps.
Useful experience for roading construction workers includes work:
- doing building and construction
- driving heavy vehicles
- using machinery.
Roading construction workers need to have excellent fitness and health and must be strong, as the work can be physically demanding.
Find out more about training
- 0800 486 626 or 0800 437 486 - AskUs@connexis.org.nz - www.connexis.org.nz
- NZ Institute of Highway Technology (NZIHT)
- (06) 759 7065 - email@example.com - www.nziht.co.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances of getting a job as a roading construction worker are good due to:
- national and local 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
- roading construction workers being upskilled and moving into other roles within a company
- high staff turnover – as roading construction workers are in demand, they can easily change employer for better conditions.
Best time for roading construction work is Spring
Job opportunities are best in spring and early summer, when most roading work is done. Contractors usually take on new staff at this time to deal with the extra work.
Temp agencies a good place to find your first role
Roading construction companies often prefer to employ roading construction workers on a temporary basis to start with. Although these are usually short-term contract positions, they are likely to lead to more permanent work if you are suited to the role.
Most roading construction workers work for private companies
Most roading construction workers are employed by construction or roading companies. About 30 large companies do 90% of the roading work in New Zealand.
- Abernethy, M, executive officer, NZ Civil Contractors, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2016.
- National Infrastructure Unit, 'The Thirty-Year New Zealand Infrastructure Plan 2015', accessed January 2017, (www.infrastructure.govt.nz).
- New Zealand Transport Agency, 'Transmission Gully', accessed January 2017, (www.nzta.govt.nz).
Progression and specialisations
With further training, roading construction workers may progress to become earthmoving machinery operators or drainlayers. They may also move into team leader or management roles.
Last updated 24 April 2018