California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Highway Maintenance Workers in California

May also be called: Highway Maintainers; Highway Maintenance Crew Workers; Highway Workers; Service Assistants (Maintenance)

What Would I Do?

The roadways we use today have come a long way since the dirt roads and trails made by Native Americans and early settlers. Roads have since been linked by others to form a nationwide network of interconnected roadways. Thus began a need for individuals to maintain these roads.

Highway Maintenance Workers do the manual labor associated with road upkeep. They clean and clear culverts and ditches; patch broken or eroded pavement; and repair guard rails, highway markers, and snow fences. They also mow or clear brush from roadsides or plow snow from roadways. Highway Maintenance Workers warn drivers of work or hazards by standing near the roadway ahead of the roadwork. They use flags or signs, either to slow or stop traffic. They also communicate with other Maintenance Workers and flag workers using hand signals or radios. The actual construction labor is contracted out to other businesses.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Flag motorists to warn them of obstacles or repair work ahead.Public Safety and Security
Set out signs and cones around work areas to divert traffic.Judgment and Decision Making
Drive trucks or tractors with adjustable attachments to sweep debris from paved surfaces, mow grass and weeds, and remove snow and ice.Control Precision
Dump, spread, and tamp asphalt to repair joints and patch broken pavement.Manual Dexterity
Drive trucks to transport crews and equipment to work sites.Transportation
Inspect, clean, and repair drainage systems, bridges, tunnels, and other structures.Building and Construction
Haul and spread sand, gravel, and clay to fill washouts and repair road shoulders.Trunk Strength
Erect, install, or repair guardrails, road shoulders, berms, highway markers, warning signals, and highway lighting, using hand tools and power tools.Repairing
Remove litter and debris from roadways, including debris from rock and mud slides.Stamina
Clean and clear debris from culverts, catch basins, drop inlets, ditches, and other drain structures.Multilimb Coordination
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Highway Maintenance Workers work outside, day and night, on various roadways in all weather conditions. They are often exposed to dust, dirt, vehicle exhaust, and various smells or fumes from the materials being used. At times the job requires a considerable amount of walking, although those directing traffic will stand for long periods. Workers may also perform tasks in semi-enclosed areas, such as tunnels, and at different heights on bridges. Work may be performed in crews or individually. The work is physically demanding and requires stamina, agility, and physical strength. Workers wear safety equipment, including shoes, glasses, gloves, earplugs, hard hats, and reflective clothing to reduce the risk of injury from working near traffic and heavy equipment.

The standard workweek is a 40-hour, 5-day period. However, some Workers work rotating or irregular shifts, including weekends, nights, and overtime for snow removal or other emergency work.

Many Highway Maintenance Workers are members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), or the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Highway Maintenance Workers may appeal to those who enjoy activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions; working outside with plants, tools, and machinery; and working independently.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Highway Maintenance Workers in California is $49,183 annually, or $23.65 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$40,259$49,183$58,036
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Benefits vary by employer; however, State government employees generally receive medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

An expanding population and more traffic on the State's roads means that more maintenance and repairs will be necessary. Additional road construction will also be needed to keep pace with the growth in population.

Employment in this occupation is highly sensitive to economic cycles. During economic downturns, Workers are subject to layoffs or reductions in hours. However, with an expanding population, more traffic, and funding through legislation, job openings are expected to grow.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Highway Maintenance Workers is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Highway Maintenance Workers are expected to increase by 7.8 percent, or 400 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Highway Maintenance Workers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
5,1005,5004007.8800
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 50 new job openings per year is expected for Highway Maintenance Workers, plus an additional 80 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 120 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Highway Maintenance Workers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
5080120
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

A high school diploma, while desirable, is not required for this job. Completion of the eighth grade and some experience in the construction or maintenance field is helpful in acquiring employment. Safety consciousness is also expected.

California Highway Maintenance Workers must have a Class C California driver license. Possession of a Class A or B driver license with a tank vehicle endorsement is desirable.

Experience

One year of experience in general labor work in construction or maintenance or the performance of service assistant duties is usually expected.

Early Career Planning

Recommended high school preparation courses include shop, basic mathematics, and English.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Concrete Finishing; or Heavy Equipment Maintenance
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

Highway Maintenance Workers are employed by State and local government, as well as private contractors.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers or union halls remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings.

Applicants should apply to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and city and county civil service offices. The job may be listed as laborer or Highway Maintenance Worker. If applying to Caltrans, applicants must pass an examination for the position. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Highway Maintenance Workers.

  • Asphalt Maintenance
  • Government
  • Parking Lot Maintenance and Marking
  • Paving Contractors
  • Road Construction

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Highway Maintenance Work is an entry-level position in the construction or maintenance industry. As Workers gain experience and skills, they may be given greater responsibilities such as driving trucks or other construction equipment. Eventually, some Workers may become crew leaders, leadworkers, or other positions requiring further skills and responsibilities. These advanced positions often require formal coursework and on-the-job training.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Highway Maintenance Workers with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Construction LaborersGuide
Paving, Surfacing, and Tamping Equipment OperatorsProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification47-4051
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Highway Maintenance Workers47-4051.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RCI
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Construction/Heavy Equipment/Earthmoving Equipment Operation490202
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Heavy Equipment Operation094730