Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings.
What they do
Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings, using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen, and metal.
Roofers typically do the following:
- Inspect problem roofs to determine the best way to repair them
- Measure roofs to calculate the quantities of materials needed
- Replace damaged or rotting joists or plywood
- Remove existing roof systems
- Install vapor barriers or layers of insulation
- Install roof ventilation
- Install shingles, asphalt, metal, or other materials to make the roof weatherproof
- Align roofing materials with edges of the roof
- Cut roofing materials to fit around walls or vents
- Cover exposed nail or screw heads with roofing cement or caulk to prevent leakage
Properly installing and repairing roofs keeps water from leaking into buildings and damaging the interior, including equipment and furnishings. Roofers install or repair two basic types of roofs: low slope and steep slope.
Low-slope roofs are the most common, as they are typical on commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings. The complexity of installing low-slope roofs varies with the type of building. Roofers may install these roofs in layers, building up piles of felt set in hot bitumen over insulation boards to form a waterproof membrane. They also may install a single-ply membrane of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compound over roof insulation boards.
Steep-slope roofs are typical on single-family homes. Roofers commonly install asphalt shingles, although they may also lay tile, solar shingles, metal shingles, slate, or shakes (rough wooden shingles) on steep-slope roofs.
Roofers also install green technology rooftop applications. These include vegetative roofs, rainwater harvesting systems, and photovoltaic products, such as solar shingles and solar tiles; however, solar photovoltaic (PV) installers typically install PV panels. Plumbers and heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics also may install solar thermal systems.
Roofers use a variety of tools when installing or repairing roofs. Their tools include roofing shovels, roof cutters, and pry bars to remove old roofing systems and hammers, nail guns, and framing squares to install new ones.
Roofing work is physically demanding because it involves climbing, bending, kneeling, and heavy lifting. Roofers work outdoors in extreme temperatures, but they usually do not work during inclement weather. Although some roofers work alone, many work as part of a crew.
How to become a Roofer
There are no specific education requirements for roofers. Although most learn on the job, some roofers enter the occupation through an apprenticeship.
No formal educational credential is typically required for roofers.
Roofers typically receive on-the-job training to become competent in the occupation. In most on-the-job training programs, experienced roofers 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 a few months, they learn to measure, cut, and fit roofing materials. Later, they lay asphalt or fiberglass shingles. Because some roofing materials, such as solar tiles, are used infrequently, it may take several years to gain experience for all types of roofing.
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 technical instruction, usually requiring a predetermined number of hours for both.
Roofers may obtain specific certification to qualify for additional work opportunities or greater pay.
The National Roofing Contractors Association offers certification for experienced roofers. Experienced roofers may become certified in various roofing systems, such as thermoplastic systems or asphalt shingles. Certification as a roofing foreman is also available for experienced roofers.
The median annual wage for roofers was $42,100 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,920.
Employment of roofers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. Replacement and repair of roofs, as well as the installation of new roofs, will create demand for roofers.
Similar Job Titles
Commercial Roofer, Industrial Roofer, Metal Roofing Mechanic, Residential Roofer, Roof Mechanic, Roof Service Technician, Roofer, Roofing Foreman, Roofing Technician, Sheet Metal Roofer, Composition Roofer
Cement Mason and Concrete Finisher, Terrazzo Worker and Finisher, Glazier, Insulation Worker-Mechanical, Plasterer and Stucco Mason
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- National Association of Home Builders - NAHB strives to protect the American Dream of housing opportunities for all, while working to achieve professional success for its members who build communities, create jobs and strengthen our economy.
- National Roofing Contractors Association - NRCA has been the home for generations of entrepreneurial craftsmen and enterprises who shelter and protect America's families and businesses and each other. Its vision is the recognition of our members as professionals and to unite the industry to that purpose.
- The Associated General Contractors of America - This organization works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry; providing opportunities for firms to learn about ways to become more accomplished; and connecting them with the resources and individuals they need to be successful businesses and corporate citizens.
Magazines and Publications
Roofers are the people who literally keep a roof over our heads. These workers install and repair the roofs of buildings to keep interiors dry and safe. Roofers take detailed measurements to calculate materials needed. They lay down layers of materials to create a lasting roof cover– starting with a vapor barrier, and the roofing material a client chooses, such as asphalt, traditional— or newer solar shingles, or long-lasting metal. Weatherproofing the seals around chimneys, vents, or other rooftop elements requires precision and spatial perception. Roofer helpers set ladders and scaffolds in place, and hoist or carry materials to roofs. They remove old roofing material, and assist roofers with roof installation and repairs. They also clean the work area and equipment. Roofing work is physically demanding. It involves heavy lifting, as well as climbing, bending, and kneeling, often in very hot weather. Roofers work outdoors in all types of weather, and need to be comfortable working high above the ground. Most roofers work full time— although only seasonally in colder climates— and may work overtime to complete jobs quickly, especially when rain is expected. Most roofers and helpers work in crews for roofing contractors. Roofers and helpers usually learn on the job, though some roofers learn their trade through an apprenticeship— typically a 3-year program of technical training and paid on the job training.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org