View Full Version : My First Job Oppertunity

11-12-2008, 10:44 PM
My dad works for a general contracting firm as a Senior superintendent, as some of you may know.

Well he came home today and said i can work at has job this summer being a laborer. I wanted to work for this company since i went to work with my dad when I was 5. But now that i have the offer to work for them i'm starting to have second thoughts.

I have a few questions for you guy's........

What was your experience like when you guy's started as a laborer?

What did you do as a laborer?

How fast did you advance to the next ranks? (How long did it take you to prove yourself?)

How did you prove yourself?

My dad said that i will be doing all the **** work, like cleaning up trash and washing the super's truck. But I wan't to know what else laborer's do. What else do they do?

I know I won't be operating equipment BTW.

I look forward to hearing your laborer stories.... And please try to answer my questions...

(p.s. I'm 16)

Thanks in advance, Tyler.

CAT powered
11-12-2008, 10:57 PM
Laborer is doing a lot of hand shoveling, sweeping, and generally sh*tty work nobody else wants to do. Expect to be the one that has to shovel out the tracks of a machine after it's been in mud or poo.

I don't have a lot of experience with how it works with being a laborer and everything, but I know that at the local quarry you have to spend at least 1 year as a laborer before you get to even touch the equipment. It certainly gives you more of an appreciation for the equipment.

11-12-2008, 10:58 PM
The laborer does get the Sh*t work. In my line of work is could be anything from down in the trench checking grade to shoveling, getting tools, Ect. I was lucky being in the family I started right off on the machines and mostly avoid the mexican backhoe. I'm pretty much in charge of the jobsites now, I'll do anything from running the machines to hand work, ect. Whatever is needed to get the job done. That's why you never let your laborers run the machines, once they figure out how much easier it is you'll never get them back on the ground. I've seen a guy spend more time walking over to a bobcat and bringing it to the truck to moved something that you have easily pick up by hand to move.

11-12-2008, 11:13 PM
Interesting you brought up the topic, I was just dealing with a GC I have worked with for the past two summers and breaks in school today. The company I worked with is a fairly reputable and large company back in Knoxville. I started out as a "laborer", sweeping and cleaning up trash around the jobsite. When I first started, I HATED it. Having said that, I came to understand that you have to start at the bottom to work your way up in any business. After showing the superintendent that I had a fairly good work ethic, I worked my way out of janitor duty. From there on out I worked with the foreman and carpenter, doing anything from setting door frames, installing handrails, to running the Lull and Bobcat. After busting my ass with this company for the past two summers and being promised that I always had a position with them when I wanted to work, I was told today that they don't have a need for me over the week of Thanksgiving. While I understand that the economy sucks, they can spare $350 for a week after I have worked so hard and been praised by them in the past. Keep in mind their website claims they did "in excess of $127 million in construction volume in 2007." Sorry for going off topic, but I have been pissed all day. Having said that, go out and work hard and you will be rewarded. You will meet tons of great people, many making you greatly appreciate the education you have been aforded. While this opportunity is now gone for me it seems, I think I opened another door today. I know the owner of the Cat dealership in Knoxville, and since I now have a week free during Thanksgiving, he is going to set up a meeting with he, the owner of a large excavating company in Knoxville, and myself over Thanksgiving as a sort of interview. Hopefully this means I will be entering the excavating and sitework world, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

11-12-2008, 11:21 PM
Odd, I never started out as a labourer, so I really can't say as much, but the people that we did have as a grunt were really bad on the equipment, so we kept them in the ditch.

11-13-2008, 12:22 AM
Start as a laborer! You will get the hang of things and figure out how things work! It is not that bad! I have done it before and while it is hard work, I did have fun with everyone else! You will know whats going on and then jump up as a operator! And if you want to have some real fun with this, find a old short section of shreded up phone cable! When the operator is not looking stick it in where he just got done digging! You will laugh so hard!

11-13-2008, 12:24 AM
take the job!! it will put hair on your chest.

11-13-2008, 01:23 AM
Laboring isn't that much fun, but it's the only way to learn from the ground up. I'll be the first to admit I haven't labored as long as most, I started out landscaping so I did a lot of hand labor there for 4-5 years. As far as laboring in a trench while someone else was running the equipment, I never had that opportunity very often. I always worked by myself, so I'd lay pipe by myself, then get back in the machine and keep trenching. I also checked my own grade, just about anything that would be convenient to have another guy I did by myself. I think it almost helped, just knowing that I had to rely on myself 100% and I always tried to do as much by myself as I could with another guy, I waste little time when working alone. I wish I could have done a good year of just laboring, but I think I've somewhat made up for that by doing the labor/operator half and half for a good 3-4 years. Only up until I joined the union has the laboring slowed down and even then I still get stuck with a shovel from time to time while grade checking.

Sorry for the personal story, but take the laborer job, especially at your age. I got lucky to be able to run any equipment at 16 when I started, merely a stroke of luck that I had some lawn maintenance customers that wanted landscaping to the tune of moving dirt. Once I did a few of those, things fell into place. Working for a GC, you may not have that chance at the same age, for liability reasons mainly. I'd take what you can get, experience wise, and run with it. By the time you're 18, you'll know enough and will be respected enough for some seat time, very easily.

I'd also like to point out that laboring is dangerous, on a heavy construction crew, that is. Residential stuff isn't too bad, but working 15+ feet deep in a trench box with pipe coming in isn't something to be taken lightly. I have done a little of that and I don't like it all that much, I trust the operators I work with too much and take their skill for granted. I did a wad of grade checking on my last job, which technically isn't laboring, but I was within arm's reach of the bucket on the 400's I was guiding. Just the way things go, but it definately takes a few brain cells to stay out of trouble.

11-13-2008, 03:42 AM
Bottom line it sucks A@%

Gravel Rat
11-13-2008, 04:57 AM
The biggest thing is don't put yourself in danger and ask questions if you don't know what to do.

Always pay attention it only takes seconds and you could be dead.

Your only 16 and have lots of years to go so don't do anything stupid.

Good Luck

11-13-2008, 07:54 AM
Thanks all for the reply's!

What is the going wage for a laborer? Is it minimum wage?

Junior M
11-13-2008, 08:13 AM
I was lucky I only had 3 people above me at my summer job when I started, and once he got me off of the maintenance crew and working with him (the boss) he realized that I actually knew what I was doing he started trusting me and giving me more and more freedom, but there were days that absolutely sucked where I was nothing but a mexican backhoe, and then there were days I was the boss and was showing the other 2 guys how do run irrigation (they were in there 30's).... I didnt do much operating, the only time I got to operate was on equipment he didnt like to run or it was doing a boring task...

Kreft the best advice I can give you is they are goin to give you alot of $hit, just shrug it off and keep going, and you are goin to be told to do alot of $hitty work, just do it as best as possible....

Junior M
11-13-2008, 10:37 AM
Oh, yeah I forgot to add, if your working in the hole and your on the lazer or something like that, dont get right up on where the operator is digging, just stand back and watch him operate and learn how he does things and then just get in a comfortable place, not to close and not far away from him. If he is a crappy operator dont be afraid to ask him to come back and take a lil bit more out or to throw some dirt back in the hole, his shovel works a whole lot easier than yours.

If the operator has a good sense of humor then start messing with him once you start to getting to know him, like do the piece of telephone wire or yell stop like he hit a gas line and then just be like oh i just wanted to tell you i was goin to go get something to drink...

Dirt Digger2
11-13-2008, 11:59 AM
i labored when i was 16 for 2 summers until I turned 18...then they let me run the big stuff

you might get a chance to run a skid loader once in a while, but don't get your hopes up...its all about getting a foot in the door

just make sure you hustle everywhere...dont be an idiot...realize you DON'T know more then the boss does...and make it to work on time everyday

me as a laborer did everything...from holding a laser stick while someone else dug to climbing down in septic tanks...get ready for whatever they have you do in order to keep you busy

11-13-2008, 01:46 PM
dirtdigger makes a good point that I forgot about. Get to work early everyday, it will definetly make an impression on everyone. Are you working for a GC or an excavating company? From the way you talked I thought you were talking about a contractor.

Silver Landscaping
11-13-2008, 01:53 PM
I started out as a laborer and loved every minute of it. Sure you have to work hard and do all of the things that nobody else wants to do but if you take the time now to be a good student and learn everything that anyone will teach you you will be a leg up later. Don't be afraid to ask questions. When I started out I made up my mind that I wanted to know everything that the superintendent knew. I let the boss know I was interested and wanted to learn anything he would teach me. Needless to say I learned a lot of stuff such as reading blueprints, surveying construction specific mathematical formulas ect. After the boss finds out you are not some cocky know it all he'll probably be more than happy to mentor you and teach you the ropes.
It's a hard school getting covered in an inch of concrete dust cutting a piece of concrete pipe and returning for my next lesson while the excavator would dig out another section but it payed off so when I finally started running equipment I had a leg up and didn't just know how to operate the equipment; I knew what to do with the equipment; which separates a driver from an operator.

11-13-2008, 04:20 PM
dirtdigger makes a good point that I forgot about. Get to work early everyday, it will definetly make an impression on everyone. Are you working for a GC or an excavating company? From the way you talked I thought you were talking about a contractor.

I'm talking about working with a GC, but I also have a oppertunity to work for a Excavating company to.

little green guy
11-15-2008, 08:49 PM
Do it. Start at the bottom, learn the ropes and work your way up. I started when I was 11 picking up trash and filling dumpsters all summer on my dads jobs who is a GC. Now that I've got some guys 15 years older than me (with 20+ years in exp.) in my company, they respect me bacause they know that I've worked my way up and when I ask them to do something, or comment on something, I've probly done it before.

At the time, I hated doing some of the jobs I had to do. But I look back on it now and it's helped me build my buisness to what it is today and I don't regret it for a second.

Just work hard, prove yourself, don't get cocky, think and stay safe, be observant and ask questions and it will all pay off.

11-15-2008, 09:10 PM
Run always.

They tell you to get something from the truck. Run. THe tell you to get coffee. RUN!


11-15-2008, 09:38 PM
Run always.

They tell you to get something from the truck. Run. THe tell you to get coffee. RUN!


that is the truth. if you want to climb the ladder fast you need to run.

11-17-2008, 05:48 PM
Thanks guys for the advice!!

RockSet N' Grade
11-17-2008, 08:21 PM
Hey Kreft........I can remember back that far! I was pulling weeds, cleaning toilets and painting bathrooms in industrial buildings - machine shops, manufacturing plants, etc. The bathrooms were black from polishing compounds, metal dust and shavings and quite deplorable. I did the work. I did NOT like it, but I did it. Next door, they built nuclear submarine parts and I always went at lunch time and stood by the door watching. After about a week, John the head supervisor, came over and asked me what I was doing. Long story short, John spent his lunch breaks for the next 6-8 months teaching me to read plans, do layout, what each machine in the shop did and how it worked and I ended up with another skill set. Set fear aside, do more than your job, be curious and show interest......something will show up. I learned how to read plans and had no idea they would become fundamental in my life. I became a general contractor, helped design industrial buildings, built industrial buildings and can read building plans in a snap - that was worth more than all the labor work I did and has become an anchor point in my life..........so, go for it!

11-17-2008, 10:56 PM
Rock ! Thanks for the background information.Interesting to know a little something about the person that is helping to keep us informed.:usflag:

11-17-2008, 11:53 PM
That's a good point about learning outside of what you're hired to do. Company I went to work for this summer called for a roller operator. I was dispatched to run roller and did for about 3 weeks. After that, I ended up running dozer, excavator, loader, blah blah, whatever. What I learned outside running equipment that I found incredibly valuable was the GPS experience I recieved. Running a rover and reading plans was awesome experience. I had some experience with plan reading, but not on that level. So just because you may end up doing a bunch of crap that sucks, you may end up doing something along the road that you may not expect and you might actually enjoy. Keep an open mind, some days really suck, but it'll pay off in the end.

11-18-2008, 05:59 PM
Thanks for the advice! Its all much appreciated.

11-18-2008, 06:01 PM
god bless ya for doing that, i was a laborer from when i was 15 till i was 18 and moving up is extremely hard to do years most of the time but great expierence you see a lot, my advice to give was the advice i got when i was in a that spot was listen,dont second geuss someone, hustle, and respect your superior. thats all i got and it helps if you gonna take the job theres gonna be times when youll hate it but everyday is a new day