Benefits of Manual Labor: How Manual Jobs Prepare You For Your Career
In a world where white-collar jobs such as lawyers or Wall Street bankers are usually seen as the most successful careers you could have, manual labor is often overlooked and undervalued.
However, there are many benefits to manual labor careers. From construction to agriculture, manual labor jobs provide essential services to our society. They also create a set of transferable skills that can be applied to other careers. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of manual labor and how it can prepare you for a successful career in various industries.
What Is Manual Labor?
Let's start at the beginning. What does "manual labor" mean? Manual labor is defined as work involving physical labor. The state of New York takes this one step further and describes manual workers as spending more than 25% of their working time in physical labor.
People who work in manual labor are usually called blue-collar workers. The term was used in the United States in the early 20th century to describe the clothing manual laborers usually wore literally. Those doing manual labor typically wore blue denim or fabric, while bankers or lawyers wore white dress shirts, hence the term "white collar" workers.
What Are Manual Labor Jobs?
With those definitions in mind, let's look at some manual labor job examples. Manual labor jobs vary considerably, especially because some require more physical activity.
There can be construction and general industry jobs that require manual labor. Some construction-related jobs that might immediately come to mind include the following:
- Construction workers
- Railroad workers
- HVAC technicians
- Equipment operators
- Civil Engineers
On the other hand, some general industry jobs that still require manual labor include occupations such as:
- Factory workers
- Assembly line workers
- Food packers
- Plant operators
Most manual labor careers require some education to perform. This can be skill-based training, a certification, a license, or a traditional college degree. This means you'll learn valuable skills before you even start working and then, of course, gain more while you're actually on the job.
If the time ever comes when you decide you would like to leave a manual labor job, there are various abilities you can take with you to become successful in another role.
This one might seem the most obvious, but it shouldn't be overlooked. Manual roles require a great deal of physical strength to perform them. The consistent nature of this kind of work could get someone in better shape if they aren't already. This can translate well to other industries requiring physical demand, such as healthcare, emergency services, or even professional sports and physical training.
Manual laborers tend to use many problem-solving skills in their daily work. This can be anything from analyzing a specific problem to identifying potential obstacles and developing a solid plan to overcome them. Nearly all jobs require at least some problem-solving skills, such as a software engineer who troubleshoot a code that isn't working correctly or a chemist who gets the wrong solution and needs to figure out why. Developing problem-solving skills through skilled roles could help you land your next job.
Plenty of manual labor occupations require you to work with a team. This means communicating with your team members is essential to completing and completing the job correctly. It is crucial to convey critical information to the rest of the team members to solve unexpected problems and finish projects safely and within a specific deadline. Communicating well with others can be helpful for salespeople making pitches and cultivating solid relationships or customer service representatives who need to listen, speak, and display empathy to customers.
Strong Work Ethic
As we know, manual laborers work very physically demanding jobs. Having to do difficult, straining work day after day is tough, but choosing to continue showing up and giving it your all shows that you know the importance of hard work. Other employers will know this and would feel lucky to have someone like you on their team because it shows your dedication to your job. Having a good work ethic also means that you're the type of person to put the most physical and mental effort into doing your job to meet, or succeed, your employer's expectations.
How To Get Out of Manual Labor Jobs
While manual labor has many benefits, some workers might change careers later. They may find that their job is taking a physical toll on their bodies or lose interest and want to make a career switch. Whatever the reason, plenty of opportunities don't require physical labor so that you can thrive. Let's look at some examples.
Being promoted to management might be the most logical transition for someone who has worked in the construction or the general industry most of their lives. Instead of being the person who gets their hands dirty, those in management will have less strenuous responsibilities. If you decide to transition to construction management, your duties might include the following:
- Conducting interviews and hiring workers
- Providing feedback to employees
- Planning, organizing, and overseeing projects
- Ensuring safety and regulatory compliance
- Managing project finances
- Handling employee conflicts or complaints
- Organizing employee schedules
In this case, your transferable skills and experience working in the construction industry can help you succeed if you decide to switch positions to management.
Switching to architecture could be an excellent fit for someone interested in 0transitioning0 away from a labor-oriented role. Architects have more of a design-focused and creative part while still staying in the construction industry. Some of your responsibilities as an architect would be:
- Designing buildings and structures
- Making sure designs comply with building safety codes
- Researching and sourcing building materials
- Coordinating with contractors and construction managers
Becoming an architect will typically require a degree in architecture. If you are interested in this particular position, you might have to head back to school, but it could be worth it!
Occupational Health and Safety
Manual laborers might also see a smooth transition if they switch to the occupational health and safety industry because it allows them to apply their construction experience to help ensure the safety of workers in other sectors.
OSHA 30-Hour Construction Training Course
OSHA 30-Hour General Industry Training Course
Specific OSH careers can vary and include jobs such as health and safety managers, specialists, or consultants, but some duties of these positions can include:
- Developing safety policies and procedures
- Conducting risk assessments
- Providing training or education
- Investigating accidents or incidents
- Conducting inspections
- Creating emergency response plans
All in all, working hard is crucial to success in manual labor positions. While the same can be said about any other career, it's essential to recognize a manual laborer's physical strength, endurance, and skill. The hard work in manual labor can also lead to career advancement or excellent opportunities in other industries.
The first step to a fulfilling manual labor career is taking one of our OSHA online training courses. Our online courses are self-paced, mobile-friendly, and backed up by over 20 years as an OSHA-authorized training provider. We offer OSHA 10, OSHA 30, and a variety of construction courses in both English and Spanish. Get started by enrolling today!