Career Development

What Does a Road Worker Do?

Find out what a Road Worker does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as a Road Worker.

The role of a Road Worker encompasses a broad spectrum of responsibilities aimed at maintaining and improving the infrastructure of roadways to ensure safe and efficient travel for the public. Tasked with a variety of duties, from repairing potholes and laying down asphalt to setting up traffic control signs and clearing debris, these individuals work diligently to address the immediate needs of road maintenance and construction. Their efforts contribute significantly to minimizing disruptions and enhancing the overall quality of transportation networks. Through collaboration with a team and often working in varying weather conditions, Road Workers play an essential role in facilitating smooth operations on the roads, thereby supporting the community’s connectivity and mobility.

Road Worker Job Duties

  • Set up and remove construction signs and barricades to direct traffic around work zones.
  • Operate heavy machinery such as bulldozers, road graders, and asphalt pavers to construct and repair roads.
  • Apply asphalt, concrete, and other road construction materials to build and maintain roadways.
  • Perform manual labor tasks, including shoveling, raking, and compacting materials on road construction projects.
  • Inspect roads for damage, such as potholes and cracks, and perform necessary repairs.
  • Paint road markings, such as lanes, crosswalks, and parking lot lines, using specialized equipment.
  • Install and maintain roadside hardware like guardrails, road signs, and traffic signal posts.
  • Conduct environmental protection measures, such as controlling sediment runoff and protecting nearby waterways during road construction activities.

Road Worker Salary & Outlook

Road Worker salaries vary based on experience, specialization in tasks such as asphalt paving or bridge repair, union membership, and the size of the employing company. Seasonal employment fluctuations and the demand for infrastructure maintenance or construction projects also significantly impact earnings. Safety training can influence pay rates due to the hazardous nature of the job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $43,575 ($20.95/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $109,800 ($52.79/hour)

The employment of road workers is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

This growth is driven by the increasing need for infrastructure repair and expansion, government investments in transportation projects, and the ongoing maintenance required to keep roadways safe and functional, addressing both aging infrastructure and the demands of a growing population.

Road Worker Job Requirements

Education: A Road Worker typically requires a high school diploma, with courses in mathematics and physical sciences being advantageous. While specific majors are not necessary, vocational training in construction or mechanical subjects can provide a solid foundation. Education in safety practices and basic engineering principles also supports the role’s demands. Advanced studies are not typically required, but knowledge gained from relevant high school or vocational courses significantly benefits those pursuing this career path.

Experience: Road workers typically enter the field with a range of hands-on experience, often having spent several months to a few years in roles that involve manual labor, construction, or related outdoor work. On-the-job training is a cornerstone of this profession, allowing workers to gain practical skills in road maintenance, safety procedures, and equipment operation. Training programs may also be available, focusing on specialized tasks such as asphalt laying, signage installation, and traffic management. The blend of prior work experience and continuous learning opportunities prepares individuals for the diverse challenges encountered in road work projects.

Certifications & Licenses: No specific certifications or licenses are universally required for road workers. However, a valid driver’s license is often necessary, and for certain tasks, a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) may be required. In some cases, safety-related certifications, such as OSHA 10-Hour Construction Safety and Health, could be beneficial.

Road Worker Skills

Traffic Control Management: Coordination and implementation of effective signage and barriers are necessary to ensure the safe and efficient movement of vehicles and pedestrians around construction zones. Skilled road workers analyze traffic patterns, determine optimal routing, and communicate clearly with the public and team members to minimize disruptions while maintaining safety standards.

Heavy Machinery Operation: Road workers operate a variety of equipment, including backhoes, bulldozers, asphalt pavers, and rollers, with precision and situational awareness. They must understand machinery mechanics, adhere to maintenance protocols, and adapt to different terrains and weather conditions to ensure project safety and efficiency.

Pavement Maintenance: Techniques such as crack filling, pothole repair, and sealcoating are employed to ensure roads’ longevity and safety. Workers adeptly assess pavement conditions and apply the appropriate maintenance strategies to prevent deterioration and extend usability.

Safety Compliance: Road workers must follow rigorous safety protocols and regulations due to the hazardous nature of their work environment. Knowledge of safety standards, implementing effective on-site safety measures, and continuous monitoring of compliance are required to prevent accidents and ensure personnel well-being.

Surveying: Using advanced tools like GPS, total stations, and levels, workers accurately measure and map out terrain and road boundaries. Proficiency in establishing reference points, elevations, and contours is critical for aligning construction projects with legal and design specifications.

Asphalt Laying: Coordination and operation of heavy machinery are necessary for the even distribution and proper compaction of asphalt, forming durable road surfaces. Workers must maintain correct thickness and smoothness levels, adhering to construction guidelines and safety standards.

Road Worker Work Environment

Road workers operate in an outdoor environment, often exposed to varying weather conditions, from scorching heat to pouring rain. Their workspace is the road itself, constantly shifting with each project’s location. They use a variety of tools and equipment, including heavy machinery, for tasks such as paving and marking roads.

Work hours can be irregular, with a significant amount of work done during off-peak hours to minimize traffic disruption. This necessitates a flexible approach to personal scheduling. Safety gear, reflective vests, and helmets form the standard dress code, emphasizing the importance of health and safety in this high-risk environment.

The nature of the job requires teamwork, fostering a culture of mutual reliance and communication among workers. Despite the noise and physical demands, there’s a shared commitment to maintaining and improving road infrastructure. Opportunities for professional development exist, particularly in learning to operate specialized machinery or advancing to supervisory roles.

Advancement Prospects

Road workers have several advancement paths, including becoming a crew leader, supervisor, or project manager. To progress, gaining hands-on experience and demonstrating leadership skills on projects is crucial. Specializing in areas such as asphalt paving or heavy equipment operation can also open up opportunities for advancement.

Understanding the latest road construction technologies and methodologies can set a road worker apart for higher-level positions. Those aiming for supervisory roles should focus on developing strong communication and project management skills. Advancement often comes from within a company, so showcasing a commitment to safety, quality, and efficiency on every project is essential for those looking to move up the ladder in the road construction industry.


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