Public Works and Other Labourers

Occupation:Public Works and Other Labourers
Category:Trades and Transportation

About the job

Nature of work:

Public works labourers work to maintain sidewalks, streets, roads, and public areas. They are employed by public works departments in all levels of government or by private contractors under contract to governments.

Railway and motor transport labourers perform a variety of tasks to assist track maintenance workers and railway yard workers, or motor transport operators. They are employed by railway transport companies and motor transport companies.

Job duties:
Public works and maintenance labourers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Clean and maintain sidewalks, streets, roads and public grounds of municipality and other areas, working as member of crew.
  • Sweep debris and remove snow from streets, sidewalks, building grounds and other areas, and load snow and debris into carts or trucks.
  • Shovel cement and other materials into cement mixers, spread concrete and asphalt on road surfaces using shovels, rakes and hand tampers, and perform other activities to assist in maintenance and repair of roads.
  • Spread sand or salt on sidewalks for snow and ice control.
  • Dig ditches and trenches using shovels and other hand tools.
  • Operate jackhammers and drills to break up pavement.
  • Load and unload trucks with supplies and equipment.
  • Collect money from coin boxes of parking meters along established route.
  • Collect and load refuse on garbage trucks.
  • Assist equipment operators to secure attachments to equipment or trucks.
  • Assist in routine maintenance and repair of equipment.
  • Assist skilled tradespersons such as carpenters, plumbers and mechanics.
  • May operate mobile sidewalk-cleaning equipment.
Railway and motor transport labourers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Transport tools and equipment on push or hand car and perform other duties to assist railway track maintenance workers to lay, maintain and repair railway tracks.
  • Cut vegetation growth from railway tracks using scythes and mowers.
  • Check freight cars for physical damage and cleanliness.
  • Assist truck and delivery drivers to load and unload vehicles.
  • Perform labouring duties in warehouses.
Sample job titles:
  • delivery truck helper
  • garbage truck loader
  • mover helper
  • parking meter collector
  • public works labourer
  • railway labourer
  • road maintenance worker - public works
  • sanitation worker
  • sidewalk cleaner
  • truck driver 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 is usually required.
  • On-the-job training is provided.
Other considerations:

Most people in these jobs work full-time, but often for only part of the year.

Progression to supervisory positions such as equipment operator and railway yard workers is possible with experience.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Limited

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a moderate sized occupation in Nova Scotia so some job opportunities may occur through turnover. However, jobseekers may face some competition for those positions. 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. Public Works and Other Labourers most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common. Also, a fair portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

The median employment income for 49% of Public Works and Other Labourers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $46,566. 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
Public Works and Other Labourers650Decline20High
Minimum: $12.00
Median: $18.17
Maximum: $25.00
Minimum: $5,509
Median: $30,135
Maximum: $59,476
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
Public Works and Other LabourersCompared to: Occupations in Trades and Transportation
Percent employed full-time87%89%
Percent self-employed16%13%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentPublic Works and Other LabourersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton22%$32,74413%$32,974
Annapolis Valley13%$33,00513%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgePublic Works and Other LabourersCompared to: All Trades and Transportation
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4647
GenderPublic Works and Other LabourersCompared to: Occupations in Trades and Transportation
% Employed% Employed
EducationPublic Works and Other LabourersCompared to: All Trades and Transportation
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school21.5%$14,43018.2%$25,753
High school46.3%$12,97225.5%$28,089
Trades certificate21.5%$56,11229.4%$40,890
College certificate or diploma8.5%x22.6%$39,023
University certificate or diploma1.1%x1.0%$35,969
Bachelor's degree2.3%x2.7%$36,972
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/Ax0.2%$41,705
Master's degreeN/Ax0.3%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/Ax0.0%$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

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Railway Association of Canada
99 Bank Street, Suite 901
Ottawa, ON K1P 6B9
Tel: (613) 567-8591
Fax: (613) 567-6726

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
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.