construction worker adjusting roof tile

How to Make a Living with a Roofing Career

You might be in the market for a new job or just ready to switch careers. It can be tough pinpointing the right profession, which is why it’s best to take your time and learn about some different job opportunities. Roofing in particular is a good job for those who enjoy being outside, and those who may have a background in construction or similar work (not that you need to come from that kind of work to become a roofer).

Let’s consider what your typical roofer does, and what a roofing career might be right for you.

What a roofer does

A roofer’s job involves repairing and replacing/installing roofs on homes or commercial properties. They work with materials including shingles, tiles, slates, bitumen, and metal sheets (steel, copper, and aluminum). It’s a physically demanding job that requires climbing onto roofs, working with large or heavy materials and tools, and around hot bitumen. There’s also a lot of bending and kneeling involved, as well as work hours typically during very hot weather.

The work they put into a roof will ensure it weathers rain, snow, sun, and everyday wear-and-tear for years to come, so long as the roofer knows what they’re doing.

How does one become a roofer?

While plenty of roofers might learn the trade through apprenticeship programs or come from jobs in construction or carpentry, many roofers actually learn and hone their craft while on the job. This makes it a particularly enticing career for those looking to get into a new field.

There are no specific education requirements to start a roofing career, although math, vocational education, blueprint reading, and mechanical drawing can all be beneficial to a prospective roofer. Since most learning happens on the job, new roofers will work alongside experienced tradespeople and gain insight into the use of the tools, equipment, and materials necessary to complete a job.

If you’re interested in apprenticeship programs, you may be able to find local unions or contractor associations who are sponsoring some. The typical entry qualifications for something like a 3-year apprenticeship include:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old
  2. Have a high school diploma or equivalent degree/certificate
  3. Be physically capable of performing the job

Becoming a roofer also requires one be physically fit and healthy enough, along with possessing a good attitude, to perform the job. Roofers often work in warm weather, on hot roofs, and may sometimes need to climb quite high in order to complete a project. This means being okay with heights and hot weather are very important for anyone considering a career in roofing.

Responsibilities and common tasks asssociated with a roofing career

A standard checklist of potential duties for roofers includes:

  • Inspection of roof to determine problem(s) and best way to address the issues that are found
  • Measuring roofs to calculate material quantities required to complete a job
  • Replacing any damaged o rotting joists/plywood
  • Installing layers of insulation and/or vapor barriers
  • Installing roofing materials (shingles, asphalt, etc.) to create a weatherproof roof
  • Ensuring materials are cut to fit and align with edges of roof
  • Altering materials to fit around obstructions such as vents, walls, and chimneys
  • Covering any exposed nail or screw heads with caulking/roofing cement to prevent leakage

Installed properly, a roof should be able to prevent water from leaking into buildings and damaging the interior. With different types of roofs come different techniques and skillsets, which is why some roofers choose to specialize in a particular kind, such as low- and steep-slope roofs, vegetative roofs, or even roofs with solar shingles.

With the increased popularity in both solar and plant/landscape features on roofs, roofers can easily adapt to modern trends to make a name for themselves in the already-niche industry.

Seasonality and schedule of work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roofing jobs were projected to grow 13% from 2014 to 2024. This growth was due in large part to the average lifespan of a roof (which varies depending on the materials used) and their need for repair and upkeep, not to mention the need to install roofs on new buildings being built every year.

In terms of demand for roofers, the field experiences fewer downturns compared to other construction trades since most roofing projects consist of repairs, installations, replacements, and new construction. It’s only during the seasonal dips in winter and autumn that the roofers might see a decline in work (spring and summer being the busiest annual periods for roofing work).

Overall, this makes roofing career a profession that is always in demand. There’s no foreseeable reason why employment or job opportunities would shrink given the finite lifespan of the average roof, as well as new construction opportunities that arise each year. For those capable of handling the word, roofing can be a vital and rewarding career to invest your time in.