A roofer career is not for the faint of heart. People interested in a roofer career need physical strength, an indifference to heights, and the ability to endure all weather conditions. Commercial roofers spend their days diligently repairing and installing roofs of homes, offices and other buildings using different materials such as shingles, metal, tile and asphalt.
Roofer careers include assessing roof damage and determining the most effective ways to fix it by either replacing worn materials such as plywood and installing insulation layers as well as shingles or other materials to ensure the roof is watertight. Roofer careers also include cutting and aligning roofing materials to fit angles formed by vents or walls and covering screw heads to prevent leakage.
Roofers typically install low-slope and steep-slope roofs. Low-slope roofs are the most common roofs for industrial, commercial and apartment complexes. Most single-family homes have a steep-slope roof.
Waterproofers apply waterproofing to areas that are below ground level, above ground level and wet areas. A successful candidate will undertake aspects of waterproofing work such as polyurethane crack and epoxy crack injection, interior perimeter drain system installation, hand excavation and waterproofing and sump pump and window well installation.
Education and Certifications
People interested in a roof career typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and intensive training. Experienced roofers, contractors and unions offer apprenticeships that can take up to three years to complete. For each year an apprentice is in training, they must earn at least 144 hours of technical training and 2000 hours of on-site instruction.
Education includes learning to how to use machines, tools and equipment, reading blueprints, following safety requirements, as well as learning math and construction basics. After roofers complete their training they can work independently as a journey worker.
How to Become a Roofer
Although most roofers learn on the job with experienced coworkers, some may enter the occupation through an apprenticeship program.
Most on-the-job training programs consist of instruction in which experienced workers teach new workers how to use roofing tools, equipment, machines, and materials.
Trainees begin with tasks such as carrying equipment and material and erecting scaffolds and hoists. Within 2 or 3 months, they are taught to measure, cut, and fit roofing materials. Later they are shown how to lay asphalt or fiberglass shingles. Because some roofing materials, such as solar tiles, are used infrequently, it can take several years to gain experience on all types of roofing. As training progresses, new workers are able to learn more complex roofing techniques.
A few groups, including the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers and some contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs for roofers. Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.
Essential Career Information
- $38,970 - Median pay, 2017
- $25,590 - Wage of lowest 10 percent, 2017
- $64,860 - Wage of the highest 10 percent, 2017
- 146,200 - Number of jobs, 2016
- 11% - Employment growth forecast, 2016
- Entry-level education requirements - No formal educational credential
- Physical Strength. Roofers often lift and carry heavy materials. Some roofers, for example, must carry bundles of shingles that weigh 60 pounds or more.
- Physical Stamina. Roofers must have the endurance to perform strenuous duties throughout the day. They may spend hours on their feet, bending and stooping—often in hot temperatures.
- Dexterity. Hand–eye coordination. Roofers need to be precise when installing roofing materials and handling roofing tools, in order to prevent damage to the roof and building.
- Balance. Roofers should have excellent balance to avoid falling, because the work is often done on steep slopes at significant heights.
- Unafraid of Heights. Roofers must not fear working far above the ground, because the work is often done at significant heights.