What Does a Construction Helper Do?

Career Information

Carpenter and helper at work
A carpenter's helper hands him a piece of wood. Geber86 / Vetta / Getty Images

A construction helper serves as an assistant to a construction craft worker. One can be a plumber's, electrician's, carpenter's, mason's, painter's or roofer's helper. He or she works on a construction site doing basic tasks that require just moderate training. Helpers keep work areas clean and orderly. They carry materials and tools for the tradespeople whom they are are assisting and hand them over as requested.

Quick Facts

  • In 2014, median annual salaries were: $27,940 (electrician's helpers); $27,710 (plumber's helpers); $28,830 (mason's helpers); $26,600 (carpenter's helpers)
  • In 2014, about 227,300 people worked as construction helpers.
  • Most people who worked in this occupation were electrician's helpers (69,000), plumber's helpers (52,000) and carpenter's helpers (39,700).
  • The job outlook varies by trade and depends on activity in the construction industry.

How to Become a Construction Helper

A formal education isn't required to get a job. Your employer will provide on-the-job training.

What Soft Skills Do You Need to Succeed in This Career?

You will need certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this field.

  • Active Listening: Excellent listening skills will allow you to follow instructions.
  • Coordination: You must be able to coordinate your actions with those of the tradesperson you are assisting.
  • Critical Thinking: You will have to evaluate your choices when solving problems and making decisions.
  • Monitoring: You must be able to evaluate your own performance.

Roles and Responsibilities

What is it like to be a construction helper? For answers, we looked at job announcements on Indeed.com. Here's are some job duties we found:

  • "Assists to install, connect and test complete water and sanitary piping systems" (Plumber's Helper)
  • "Clean and maintain tools, test equipment and job sites" (Electrician's Helper)
  • "Remove damaged stone, brick, or mortar, and clean and prepare surfaces" (Mason's Helper)
  • "Shape or cut materials to specified measurements, using hand tools, machines, or power saw" (Carpenter's Helper)

What You Should Know About Being a Construction Helper

  • Jobs are typically full time.
  • The work is physically demanding. You will have to lift heavy materials and tools.
  • You will have to work outdoors in all types of weather.
  • This job isn't for anyone who has a fear of heights or enclosed spaces as you may encounter both.
  • There are more reported injuries, some fatal, in this occupation than in any other.

What Will Employers Expect From You?

Here are some requirements from actual job announcements found on Indeed.com:

  • "Knowledge of arithmetic, basic geometry, and their applications to carpentry" (Carpenter's Helper)
  • "Ability to work at elevated heights" (Electrician's Helper)
  • "Must be willing to learn the principles, methods, tools, and equipment used in the trade" (Plumber's Helper)
  • "Ability to follow oral and written instructions" (Electrician's Helper)
  • "Solid organizational skills" (Mason's Helper)
  • "Must become knowledgeable and have the ability to safely operate hand and power tools" (Plumber's Helper)
  • "Must be detail oriented, have good verbal skills and a neat/clean appearance" (Electrician's Helper)

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

Related Occupations

 DescriptionMedian Annual Wage (2014)Minimum Required Education/Training
PlumberInstalls pipes and related fixtures$50,660HS or Equivalency Diploma + 4-5 year apprenticeship
ElectricianInstalls wiring and electrical components in residences and commercial buildings$51,110HS or Equivalency Diploma + 4-5 year apprenticeship
CarpenterBuilds and installs wood, fiberglass and drywall structures$40,820HS or Equivalency Diploma + 3-4 year apprenticeship
MasonBuilds brick, stone or concrete block structures

$47,650 (Brickmasons/Blockmasons)

$37,880 (Stonemasons)

HS or Equivalency Diploma + 3-4 year apprenticeship

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited January 20, 2015).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited January 20, 2015).

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