Not everyone is content working behind a desk.

If you want to spend time outside working with your hands, a general labor job might be the best fit for your skills. Luckily, there are several good options in and around Washington DC.

We compared a variety of general labor jobs and looked at their salaries, advancement opportunities, amount of experience needed and what all they entailed. And there were five that really stood out.

Washington DC had higher average annual salaries for every job on our list, compared to the national average. With the metro area’s cost of living on the rise, that trend is set to continue.

So, if you’re looking for a job, check out the five best general labor jobs in Washington DC.

Disclaimer: All of the salaries noted below are from the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics.


bricklayers.pngTasked with building or repairing existing structures, bricklayers do just that: they lay bricks and other materials on construction sites.

Average Annual Salary: $52,946 in Washington DC

Education: High school diploma

Typical job duties:

  • Lay building materials like bricks, cinder blocks and tiles
  • Mix and apply mortar to the materials
  • May specialize in a specific type of construction structures

You’ll gain experience reading plans, being on construction sites and using different equipment as a bricklayer, so there may be opportunities to move to another higher-level construction position.

Construction Carpenter

construction_carpenters.pngProbably one of the most versatile construction jobs, carpenters can work in the residential, commercial or industrial sector. With the DC area constantly expanding, there’s going to continue to be a need for people with these skills. That’s probably why it’s set to grow 6.4 percent by 2024.

Average Annual Salary: $46,780 (no data on DC-specific salaries)

Education: High school diploma

Typical job duties:

  • Follow building plans and blueprints
  • Construct and install structures like frameworks, windows and molding
  • Direct other construction laborers
  • Measure, cut and shape building materials

Most carpenters begin their careers with an apprenticeship to learn the basics, along with technical training. Since they are involved with so many different parts of the construction process, construction carpenters normally have more opportunities to move up — compared to other construction workers.


surveyor.pngWhile this profession isn’t growing as fast in DC as it is on the West Coast, it’s still a good one to consider.

Average Annual Salary: $74,401 in Washington DC

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Typical job duties:

  • Make exact measurements of outdoor areas
  • Determine property boundaries
  • Provide findings on the property’s elevation, dimensions, shape and other factors
  • Use a GPS, levels or other measurement tools

Being a surveyor requires more education and training than the other general labor jobs on the list, but the salary reflects that. A good many surveyors work as subcontractors, so they control their schedule and workload — which can be a benefit.

Highway Flagger

highway_flagger.pngIf you don’t mind the monotony and hazardous conditions, being a highway flagger can earn you a good bit above minimum wage.

Average Hourly Rate: $15-$20/hour (up to $50/hour in some cases)

Education: High school diploma

Typical job duties:

  • Direct and control traffic at construction sites along roads
  • Hold signs or paddles to slow down or stop traffic
  • Communicate with other construction workers
  • Deal with frustrated drivers

You’ll need to get certified for this position, but once you do, you’ll be able to work with the Department of Transportation (DOT) or a private road construction company.

Since this job puts flaggers right next to traffic, there’s a high risk for death or injuries. It also requires you to be out in the elements for long hours, day and night.

Landscape Laborer

landscape_laborers.pngThere is a wide range of landscape-industry positions, from laborers to supervisors. Most companies are looking for a strong work ethic, instead of just specific skill sets. So, there are plenty of opportunities, no matter your experience.

Average Annual Salary: $29,788 in Washington DC (entry-level job)

Education: High school diploma

Typical job duties:

  • Mow, edge, trim and blow
  • Remove and/or install plants
  • Lay pavers, bricks or other hardscape materials
  • Load and unload trailers and trucks

Opportunities for this position are set to grow 6.1 percent by 2024. With the right company, there will plenty of opportunities to advance in the landscaping field. For example, moving up to landscape supervisor will put you at an average annual salary of $62,787 in DC.

To get a promotion like that, you need to put in the work, be passionate about the job, earn any certifications the company requires and truly care about your clients and their properties.

Those are some of the criteria we use at Level Green Landscaping to determine if someone should be promoted within the company.

We are constantly growing our commercial landscape team and have job positions like operations manager, account manager, landscape designer, field supervisor, crew driver, spray technician and crewman.

Are you ready to be part of a team that values its employees and provides a good work-life balance?


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Images: Flagger, Bricklayer, Carpenter, Surveyor