What Is a Labourer? A Complete Guide To Understanding the Role

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Labourers are essential workers in many industries and carry out a range of manual tasks. The work is generally not complex and may or may not require prior or on-the-job training. By understanding what it takes to become a labourer and the labourer work responsibilities, you can decide if this is a profession you wish to pursue. In this article, we explain what is a labourer, what a labourer does, the education, training and skills they require, their work environment and how to become a labourer.

What Is A Labourer?

A labourer may be a part-time, full-time or seasonal employee who companies and individuals may hire for a range of manual work activities. They generally work in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture and maintenance fields. Depending on their type of employment, they may earn daily, weekly or monthly wages. It may be essential to be over 18 years of age to do manual labour work in many industries. Adolescents between the ages of 14 and 18 can legally work as labourers, but not in jobs that may be hazardous, require night shifts or are longer than six hours a day.

What Does A Labourer Do?

A labourer performs unskilled manual labour work in a variety of settings. They may work on construction sites, factories, farms, garbage disposal units or street cleaning units. While the labourer work responsibilities may vary according to their specific job, some of the tasks they might do include the following:

  • Performing manual work as per the employer's directions

  • Digging ditches, transporting materials and doing construction work

  • Clearing rubble, soil, brush and other unwanted materials from a worksite

  • Cutting branches and trees, clearing weeds and tilling the soil

  • Picking, cleaning, grading and packing farm produce

  • Looking after and feeding farm animals

  • Cleaning and maintaining factory premises

  • Loading, unloading and carrying equipment and materials

  • Collecting and disposing of garbage

  • Sweeping and cleaning streets

  • Using, operating and cleaning machinery

Related: What Does a Utility Worker Do?

Labourer Education

You do not need to have formal educational qualifications to become a labourer. In most cases, you may receive work training on the job. However, some employers may require labourers to have basic literacy skills to follow work and safety rules and regulations. Many labourers may have completed Class 5, Class 8, Class 10 or higher studies. Some labourers may learn specific skills through training programmes initiated by the Indian government, made available through various agencies.

Related: 8 Certifications For Construction Workers

Labourer Certifications

No specific certifications are necessary for working as a labourer. However, labourers who have completed Class 8 or Class 10 can take a variety of vocational courses offered by the Industrial Training Institutes (ITI). After completing the courses, they can appear for the All India Trade Test (AITT). On passing this exam, they can get a National Trade Certificate that legally qualifies them to practice their vocation.

Labourer Training

Labourers may or may not require specific training to find employment. Non-skilled labourers may get on-the-job training from their employers or by following the lead of other experienced workers. Skilled labourers may get various kinds of vocational training. That may enable them to become fitters, turners, tool and die-makers, diesel engine mechanics, pump operators, welders and so on.

Related: What Is a Gig Worker?

Labourer Skills

The general skills that are essential for labourer jobs are:

  • A strong physique with good stamina

  • Ability to take orders and follow instructions

  • Ability to be punctual and reliable

  • Ability to learn quickly on the job

  • Ability to work with different work crews

  • Ability to do demanding physical labour

  • Ability to use manual tools and other machines

  • Ability to lift and carry heavy objects

  • Ability to work in all kinds of weather

  • Ability to work at heights or in cramped conditions

  • Ability to be attentive and work safely

Related: What Does a Sheet Metal Worker Do?

Labourer Work Environment

The work environment for labourers may vary according to the industry in which they work and whether they work in an urban or rural setting. In the construction industry, labourers may work for a contractor or a construction company, in day shifts or night shifts and for eight hours or longer. Some labourers may be migrant workers and may travel to other states in search of employment. They may be casual workers without an employment contract. Agricultural labourers may have permanent or seasonal work. Labourers employed by municipalities or other government agencies may have more permanent employment.

How To Become A Labourer

You can become a labourer by following these six important steps:

1. Complete Class 8 or Class 10

While formal educational qualifications are not essential to find employment as a labourer, you may benefit from having them in the long term. By completing Class 8 or Class 10, you can get the basic literacy training you need to search online for various advantageous government schemes and find and apply for government and private employment opportunities. You may also be able to avail yourself of different online or offline formal training opportunities to improve your career prospects.

2. Choose a work industry

You can decide if you want to work as a labourer in the construction industry, the manufacturing industry, the agricultural industry or any other relevant industry. It may help to understand the work requirements of the industry you are interested in and assess if you have the necessary skills or physical abilities. For example, to work in the construction industry, you must have a reasonably healthy, strong physique to do demanding work like digging ditches, demolishing walls, moving the rubble and carrying construction materials. You must also be prepared to work outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions.

3. Get work experience

After selecting a work industry, you can find employment by directly approaching an employer or by asking experienced, already employed labourers of your acquaintance to help you get work at their place of employment. You can also visit the specific areas in your city, town or village where labourers gather every morning and where employers come to look for workers for short-term or long-term manual work. Additionally, if you live in a rural area, you can register for the MGNREGA to get employment.

You can gain work training and work experience by performing the work duties that the employer assigns to you. It is essential to follow any safety instructions they might give you and wear protective gear if necessary.

4. Obtain a labour card

Labourers can get financial assistance from their state government by applying for a labour card. To be eligible for the labour card, you must be an Indian citizen, a current resident of your state, aged between 18 and 40, earning less than ₹15000 per month and not employed in the organised sector. You may receive a specific sum of money in financial aid from the government for health treatment, at the time of your children's birth, for their higher education and for the marriage of your daughter.

5. Go for vocational training

You can enroll in various short-term and long-term vocational training programmes and skill development courses to acquire skills that can increase your chances of finding well-paying jobs. The Ministry of Skill Development And Entrepreneurship in India offers a range of courses in partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), the Directorate General of Training (DGT), the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET), Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and other training agencies.

The NSDC's skill directory can point you towards the NSDC's fee-based courses and many other courses available in your region through programmes like the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme and the Technical Intern Training Program and e-Skill India. You can find relevant training centres and obtain work skills in different sectors like construction, agriculture, production and manufacturing, automotive, fabrication, electronics, IT or handicrafts.

6. Advance in your career

You can advance your career by using various online employment-related services and resources to get career counselling, vocational guidance and information about various skill development courses, vocational apprenticeships and job internships. For example, you can visit the National Career Service website of the Ministry of Labour and Employment and search for available jobs by state. You can also find apprenticeship opportunities on the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme website and train as a fitter, welder, machinist, turner or electrician.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.


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