Trades Helpers and Labourers

Occupation:Trades Helpers and Labourers
Category:Trades and Transportation

About the job

Nature of work:

Construction trades helpers and labourers help skilled tradespersons and perform labouring duties at construction sites in quarries and in surface mines. They are employed by construction companies, trade and labour contractors, and surface mine and quarry operators.

Other trades helpers and labourers help install and repair equipment and machinery in a wide variety of settings, including industry, transportation, refrigeration and air conditioning, and telecommunications. They are employed by a wide variety of manufacturing, utility and service companies.

Job duties:
Construction trades helpers and labourers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Load and unload construction materials, and move materials to work areas.
  • Erect and dismantle concrete forms, scaffolding, ramps, catwalks, shoring and barricades required at construction sites.
  • Mix, pour and spread materials such as concrete and asphalt.
  • Assist tradespersons such as carpenters, bricklayers, cement finishers, roofers and glaziers in construction activities.
  • Assist heavy equipment operators to secure special attachments to equipment, signal operators to guide them in moving equipment and provide assistance in other activities.
  • Assist in aligning pipes and perform related activities during oil and gas pipeline construction.
  • Assist in drilling and blasting rock at construction sites.
  • Assist miners in excavating and in setting up and operating various drills and other surface mining machinery.
  • Level earth to fine grade specifications using rake and shovel.
  • Assist in demolishing buildings using prying bars and other tools, and sort, clean and pile salvaged materials.
  • Remove rubble and other debris at construction sites using rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows and other equipment.
  • Operate pneumatic hammers, vibrators and tampers as directed.
  • Tend or feed machines or equipment used in construction such as mixers, compressors and pumps.
  • Clean up chemical spills and other contaminants, and remove asbestos and other hazardous materials.
  • Oil and grease hoists and similar equipment.
  • Direct traffic at or near construction sites.
  • Perform other activities at construction sites, as directed.
Trade helpers and labourers in this group perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Move tools, equipment and other materials to and from work areas.
  • Assist in splicing overhead and underground communications and electric power transmission cables.
  • Assist in repairing, maintaining and installing industrial machinery and equipment.
  • Assist in repairing, maintaining and installing refrigeration, heating and air conditioning equipment.
  • Assist in repairing, maintaining and installing elevators.
  • Assist in repairing and maintaining stationary electric power generating and distribution equipment.
  • Assist in mechanical, electrical and body repairs of aircraft, railway cars, automobiles, trucks, buses, heavy equipment and motorcycles.
  • Assist in repairing electrical appliances, small engines or other similar equipment.
  • Mix fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides and load mixture into airplane for aerial spraying.
  • Assist in land surveying activities, such as holding or moving stakes and rods, clearing brush and debris from line of survey and transporting surveying tools to work area.
  • Perform other labouring and elemental tasks as required.
Sample job titles:
  • cable installation and repair helper - telecommunications
  • construction craft worker
  • construction trades helper
  • construction worker
  • flagman/woman - construction
  • heating and air conditioning mechanic helper
  • highway maintenance worker
  • industrial mechanic helper
  • motor vehicle mechanic helper
  • surveyor helper

You need good health, physical stamina and strength. Agility, coordination, and a mechanical aptitude would be helpful. You must be able to take direction and be able to carry out instructions given by a supervisor.

Job requirements:
  • Some secondary school education may be required.
  • On-the-job training is provided.
  • Red Seal certification (allowing for interprovincial mobility) is available for qualified construction craft workers.
  • Flagmen/women may require a traffic control certificate.
Other considerations:

Most construction trades helpers and labourers work full-time, but often for only part of the year because this work is highly seasonal. Some experience as a general construction labourer may be required for construction trade helpers and some pipeline workers, such as stabbers, mandrel operators and pre-heater tenders, usually require one season of experience in oil and gas pipeline construction.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Fair

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline moderately over the next few years, which will likely limit the number of new opportunities available. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Trades Helpers and Labourers most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common.

The median employment income for 25% of Trades Helpers and Labourers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $36,683. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Trades Helpers and Labourers3,930Decline55Moderate
Minimum: $12.00
Median: $17.00
Maximum: $27.50
Minimum: $4,724
Median: $23,750
Maximum: $59,351
Occupations in Trades and Transportation57,925Decline slightly3,400High
Minimum: $13.00
Median: $20.35
Maximum: $34.00
Minimum: $7,580
Median: $37,269
Maximum: $79,787
Trades Helpers and LabourersCompared to: Occupations in Trades and Transportation
Percent employed full-time87%89%
Percent self-employed13%13%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentTrades Helpers and LabourersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton19%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley16%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeTrades Helpers and LabourersCompared to: All Trades and Transportation
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4047
GenderTrades Helpers and LabourersCompared to: Occupations in Trades and Transportation
% Employed% Employed
EducationTrades Helpers and LabourersCompared to: All Trades and Transportation
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school28.7%$23,05918.2%$25,753
High school40.3%$22,69525.5%$28,089
Trades certificate15.8%$32,03829.4%$40,890
College certificate or diploma12.1%$28,14622.6%$39,023
University certificate or diploma0.9%$18,8131.0%$35,969
Bachelor's degree1.9%$24,1142.7%$36,972
University advanced certificate or diplomaxx0.2%$41,705
Master's degreexx0.3%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry0.2%x0.0%$3,714
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Construction Craft Worker
Certificate of Qualification (Voluntary):This job is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Employers may require certification, however, a certificate is not needed to legally work in this job.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
2021 Brunswick Street, PO Box 578
Halifax, NS B3J 2S9
(800) 494-5651
(902) 424-0717
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Construction Safety Council
35 MacDonald Avenue
Dartmouth, NS B3B 1C6
Tel: (800) 971-3888
Fax: (902) 468-8843
BuildForce Canada
220 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 1150
Ottawa, ON K1P 5Z9
Tel: (613) 569-5552
Fax: (613) 569-1220
Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council
10 Ragged Lake Blvd. Unit 1
Halifax, NS B3S 1C2
Tel: (902) 832-4761
Fax: (902) 832-4763
Red Seal
c/o Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency PO Box 578
Halifax, B3J 2S9
Tel: (902) 424-5651
Fax: (902) 424-0717

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Adult high school/secondary diploma programs
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the high school level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that defines the prescribed requirements, specified by the appropriate jurisdiction, for the completion of and graduation from a secondary school program of academic subject matter offered for adult learners outside of the regular secondary school program. This does not include adult compensatory education programs resulting in completion of a high school equivalency certificate or diploma.
See all institutions providing this program+
Universite Sainte-Anne
Siège Social: 1695, Route 1
Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0
(902) 769-2114
Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus
50 Elliott Road
Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0
(902) 825-3491
Nova Scotia Community College - Cumberland Campus
PO Box 550, 1 Main Street
Springhill, NS B0M 1X0
(902) 597-3737
Nova Scotia Community College - Akerley Campus
21 Woodlawn Road
Dartmouth, NS B2W 2R7
(902) 491-4900
Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus
372 Pleasant Street
Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2
(902) 742-3501
Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus
236 Belcher Street
Kentville, NS B4N 0A6
(902) 678-7341
Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus
75 High Street
Bridgewater, NS B4V 1V8
(902) 543-4608
Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus
5685 Leeds Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2T3
(902) 491-6722
Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries
PO Box 820, 39 Acadia Avenue
Stellarton, NS B0K 1S0
(902) 752-2002
Nova Scotia Community College - Shelburne Campus
PO Box 760, 1575 Lake Road
Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0
(902) 875-8640
Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute
226 Reeves Street
Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2
(902) 625-2380
Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus
PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6J7
(902) 563-2450
Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus
36 Arthur Street
Truro, NS B2N 1X5
(902) 893-5385
Program Name:Construction trades - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that generally prepares individuals to apply technical knowledge and skills in the building, inspecting, and maintaining of structures and related properties. These programs include courses in masonry, carpentry, electrical and power transmission installation, building/construction finishing, management, inspection and other construction-related applications.
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Maritime Environmental Training Institute
301 Alexandra Street
Sydney, NS B1S 2E8
(902) 539-9766
Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus
372 Pleasant Street
Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2
(902) 742-3501
Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute
226 Reeves Street
Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2
(902) 625-2380
Dexter Institute
927 Rocky Lake Dr, Po Box 48100
Bedford, NS B4A 3Z2
(902) 832-6391
Additional resources: