Roofers

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 roofer Jobs

  • Roofer - Curtis Construction - Greenville, NC

    Install roof systems, such as TPO, EPDM, PVC, BUR, Mod Bit, Metal • Cut patches and make roof repairs • Flash curbs, pipes, and penetrations

  • Roofer – - Petersen Dean - San Jose, CA

    SKILLS/QUALIFICATIONS • Experience with the use of hand-held and power tools • Experience working with all

  • Roofer Apprentice - Tradesmen International, Inc. - San Jose, CA

    entry level Roofer you will work under the direct supervision of a qualified

See all roofer jobs

What Roofers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen, and metal.

Duties of Roofers

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
  • Install vapor barriers or layers of insulation
  • 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 installed roofs keep water from leaking into buildings and damaging the interior, equipment, or furnishings. There are two basic types of roofs: low-slope and steep-slope. Solar and vegetative features are sometimes incorporated into both low- and steep-slope roofs. Roofers may specialize in the installation and replacement of one or more of these roof systems.

Low-slope. Low-slope roofs rise less than 3 inches per horizontal foot and are installed in layers. Low-slope roofs make up nearly three-quarters of all roofs, as most commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings use this type.

Many of today’s low-slope roofs are covered with a single-ply membrane of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compound. Most previously installed low-slope roofs, however, use several layers of roofing materials or felt membranes stuck together with hot bitumen (a tar-like substance).

Steep-slope. Steep-slope roofs rise more than 3 inches per horizontal foot and most commonly use asphalt shingles, which often cost less than other coverings. Steep-slope roofs make up most of the remaining roofs, as most single-family homes use this type.

Although roofers most commonly install asphalt shingles, some also lay tile, solar shingles, metal shingles, or shakes (rough wooden shingles) on steep-slope roofs.

Traditional roofing systems may incorporate plants and landscape materials, and these features are becoming more common. A vegetative roof is typically a waterproof low-slope roof, covered by a root barrier. Soil, plants, and landscaping materials are then placed on the roof.

Solar features are increasingly popular on roofs. These systems include solar reflective, which prevents the absorption of energy; solar thermal, which absorbs energy to heat water; and solar photovoltaic, which converts sunlight into electricity. Roofers install some photovoltaic products such as solar shingles and solar tiles, but solar photovoltaic (PV) installers typically install PV panels. Plumbers and heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics also may install solar thermal systems.

Work Environment for Roofers[About this section] [To Top]

Roofers hold about 123,400 jobs, of which 72 percent are in the roofing contractors industry. About 1 in 5 roofers are self-employed.

Roofing work can be physically demanding. It involves heavy lifting, as well as climbing, bending, and kneeling, frequently in very hot weather. Roofers work outdoors in all types of weather, particularly when making repairs. However, they rarely install roofs when it rains or when it is very cold.

Although some roofers work alone, many work as part of a crew.

Injuries and Illnesses

Roofers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Workers may slip or fall from scaffolds, ladders, or roofs, where they do most of their work. They may also be burned by hot bitumen. Proper safety precautions and equipment can prevent most accidents and fatalities.

Roofs can become extremely hot during the summer, which can cause heat-related illnesses.

Roofer Work Schedules

Like many construction workers, most roofers work full time. In northern states, roofing work is limited during the winter months. During the summer, roofers may work overtime to complete jobs quickly, especially before rainfall.

About 1 in 5 roofers are self-employed. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedules.

How to Become a Roofer[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Roofers near you!

Although most roofers learn on the job, some learn their trade through an apprenticeship program. There are no specific education requirements for roofers.

Roofer Education

Although there are no specific education requirements for roofers, high school courses in math, vocational education, mechanical drawing, and blueprint reading are considered helpful. Technical schools that offer courses related to roofing may be available in a few areas.

Roofer Training

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, and later, 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, assignments become more complex.

Some roofers learn through a 3-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Apprentices learn about roofing and construction basics, such as blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, safety, and first aid practices.

Several groups sponsor apprenticeship programs, including unions and contractor associations. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans. The basic qualifications to enter an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work

After completing an apprenticeship program, roofers are considered journey workers who can perform tasks on their own.

Important Qualities for Roofers

Balance. Roofing is often done on steep slopes at significant heights. Because of this, workers should have excellent balance to avoid falling.

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—with few breaks.

Physical strength. Roofers often lift and carry heavy materials. Some roofers, for example, must carry bundles of shingles that weigh 60 pounds or more.

Unafraid of heights. Because work is often done at significant heights, roofers must not fear working far above the ground.

Roofer Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for roofers is $36,720. 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 $24,560, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $62,180.

The starting pay for apprentices is usually between 50 percent and 60 percent of what fully trained workers earn. They receive pay increases as they learn to do more.

Like many construction workers, most roofers work full time. In northern states, roofing work is limited during the winter months. During the summer, roofers may work overtime to complete jobs quickly, especially before rainfall.

About 1 in 5 roofers are self-employed. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedules.

Job Outlook for Roofers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of roofers is projected to grow 13 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Replacement and repair of roofs, as well as the installation of new roofs, will create demand for roofers.

Roofs deteriorate more quickly than most other parts of buildings, and as a result, they need to be replaced or repaired more often. Results of a National Roofing Contractors Association survey indicate that about three-quarters of all roofing work is for repair and replacement. In addition to normal deterioration, extreme weather events often damage roofs and require immediate repair or replacement.

In addition to replacement and repair work, the need to install roofs on new buildings may also result in job growth. However, some roofing activities, such as removing old roofs, also may be done by other construction workers, which may slow job growth for traditional roofing contractors.

Roofers Job Prospects

Job opportunities for roofers should be excellent. Most jobs for roofers will stem primarily from the need to replace the many workers who leave the occupation each year, some of whom seek jobs in other construction trades. Jobs are generally easier to find during spring and summer. In addition, workers with military service experience are viewed favorably during initial hiring.

Demand for roofers is less vulnerable to downturns than for other construction trades because much roofing work consists of repair and reroofing, in addition to new construction. Still, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of new construction falls, and shortages of workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.

Employment projections data for Roofers, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Roofers 123,400 139,300 13 15,800


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Search for jobs: