What is general labour? Learn the basics of the job

Learn about the skills and duties that are expected from a general labourer in this guide.

Explore labourer jobs

If you’re wondering what general labour is, and if you should consider it as a career, here’s some great news: general labour is a wide, “general” field with a lot of opportunities!

General labour can include everything from working as a handyperson to becoming a licenced forklift operator. What’s great about this type of job is that you can pick up a lot of skills along the way, and work in all sorts of industries, including manufacturing, logistics,  the construction industry, and more!

To help you in your budding general labour career, this guide will take you through what general labour is, what a general labourer is expected to do, and how you can start a career in this field.

What is general labour?

female general labourer

General labour covers a variety of tasks, from shovelling soil to cleaning up, and even working with special machinery like forklifts and paper mills. It’s physical, hands-on work that usually requires or includes on-the-job training.

What a general labourer does will depend heavily on the industry and workplace they’re in. You may be assigned as a custodian who cleans and secures an office or warehouse, you could be tasked to monitor a production line in a warehouse, or you could be trained to work with a pool of technicians or handypersons.

What you do as a general labourer may also depend on your existing skills, training, and licences. For example, if you’re already a licenced electrician, your work as a labourer may focus mostly on installing light fixtures or inspecting electrical components.

What skills and qualifications should a general labourer have?

male general labourer in a warehouse

General labourers are usually not required to have a certain level of education, but Australian employers typically require that you go through training and certification from a registered organisation to obtain a White Card.

Here’s what most employers look for in a general labourer:

  • Good health (including the ability to pass a pre-employment drug and alcohol test)
  • Strength and stamina
  • Communication skills
  • Good work ethic
  • Team player attitude
  • Flexibility

You can start by learning a few of the basic handyman skills, then get further training to specialise in a job. Since a labourer's duties can also involve specialised equipment, it’s beneficial to look into the following:

  • Driving licence
  • White Card
  • Relevant certifications (e.g. TAFE Certificate in Construction)
  • Relevant technical skills
  • Trade apprenticeships
  • Safety training
  • Experience with relevant tools or machinery

What are the different types of general labour duties?

general labourer pouring concrete with a cement mixer truck. Road construction or general surface repair

The duties of a general worker can include the following:

  • Working as a handyman, carpenter, or plumber
  • Working with hand tools and power tools like solders and drills
  • Working with building materials
  • Labelling and packing products for shipping
  • Organising goods and inspecting inventory
  • Cleaning and securing buildings
  • Unloading cargo from ships or planes
  • Fertilising plants, picking crops, and feeding animals
  • Inspecting products in a production line
  • Maintaining a well-run workplace (e.g. warehouse, construction site, or factory)
  • Leading a crew of installation or repair technicians
  • Maintaining the grounds of a building (as a landscape artist, pool technician, or gardener)

Other duties that might be expected from you include stacking, sorting, and counting items in a bakery; setting up scaffolding; or cleaning shipping containers.

Of course, the best place to check what duties to expect is the job post you’re applying for!

Are general labourers in demand in Australia?

There are thousands of general labourer jobs available Australia-wide right now! The market is wide open with projected job growth of 6.5% in the next five years. This means you can quickly and easily find a job as a general worker.

How can I start working as a general labourer?

general labourers working together in the warehouse

To start, you’ll need to have the basic skills and qualifications mentioned above. You’ll want to familiarise yourself with the types of duties mentioned in the job opening you’re interested in. Also, make sure to brush up on any technical skills you’ll need, and prepare the necessary documents that prove your qualifications.

It’s also worthwhile to mention that general labour can be physically taxing. You can expect long hours of standing, lifting, twisting, and pushing. Keep yourself in good shape, so you can get the most out of each job opportunity!

Start working as a general labourer with Airtasker!

Think you’re up to a career as a general labourer? Then it’s time to take the next step!

Finding job opportunities is hassle-free with Airtasker. Our platform lets potential clients post tasks in minutes; from there, you can bid on jobs that fit your skillset and are within your price range and location. When you sign up as a Tasker, you’ll find that it’s an easy way to earn more as a general labourer!

Create your profile and start browsing jobs in minutes

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