Roofers work either installing new roofs on newly constructed homes or they repair roofs already constructed that may have leaks or other issues. Roofing is difficult work. The field requires a lot of heavy lifting and roofers generally kneel or lean forward for the majority of the time they are on the roof. Safety is another factor that roofers have to deal with. They are always at risk of slipping and falling from the roof; therefore, roofers must take safety precautions such as wearing a harness. Finally, roofers must work in extreme heat in the summer months and may be required to work during heavy rain and other inclement weather. Roofers do not generally work in the winter months especially in the north where ice can be a major safety factor.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roofing jobs are growing at a slower rate than other jobs. Roofing positions are expected to grow at only 4 percent over the next several years. This is attributed to roofing work being done by other trades in the construction industry as opposed to traditional roofers handling construction jobs. Job openings generally become available because of employee turnover.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Popular industries for roofer jobs are in both residential and commercial construction and residential repair and maintenance fields. The bulk of roofers are male with females making up only 1 percent of all roofing jobs. According to Payscale.com, roofer jobs are most popular in Chicago, Seattle, Houston, Philadelphia and Cleveland.
Roofer Job Responsibilities
Roofers will usually work with tar or asphalt and shingles. Sometimes they will work with other material such as gravel, metal, or rubber. Roofers work with insulation and a substance called molten bitumen which is tarlike in nature. They also apply roofing felt onto the roof if it is a low-slope roof. Roofers also work with waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compounds which they roll over the insulation. They must use adhesives or other types of fasteners to hold these in place. If they are working on steep-slope roofs, they must apply shingles to the roof. They are responsible for laying, cutting and tacking the felt and then installing the shingles on top of the felt.
Roofers must make sure everything is properly adhered to the roof or else it will leak. They must also cover exposed nail-heads to ensure that water does not leak and know how to measure areas properly and cut roofing materials so they fit.
If a roofer works on a green building, he or she may need to install a landscape roofing system. This requires a roofer to install a waterproofing layer and a root barrier. On top of that, the roofer will install soil and plant grass, trees or both. The roof must be waterproof and must be able to hold the weight of the landscaping.
Roofers must be in good physical condition, able to lift heavy materials and have good balance.
Roofer Training and Education Requirements
Roofers generally receive their training on-the-job by working as helpers with more experienced roofers. Some roofers are able to take classes and safety training and others attend apprenticeship programs. These apprenticeship programs are often offered by labor unions and roofers are paid when they work as an apprentice. They must work no less than 2,000 hours annually and take at least 144 hours of classroom training to learn about tools, safety and math.
If a roofer wants to start work as a helper, he may be required to carry tools, materials or equipment. He may be responsible for setting up scaffolding. As time goes on, he will receive hands-on instruction in measuring and fitting materials and laying shingles.
Roofer Salary and Wages
The hourly rate for roofers in the United States in August, 2010 is between $12.44 and $20.34. Some roofers receive overtime and can earn between $18.09 and $28.19. Depending on where they work, some roofers can receive bonuses or profit sharing although this percentage is very small. The most common health benefits that roofers receive are medical, dental and vision; however 68 percent of roofers do not receive any health benefits whatsoever. Roofers earn the highest hourly rates in Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Denver and Columbus according to Payscale.com.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Roofing Torch applicators must be certified and renew his or her status every three years. Certification renewal information is available through the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).
Roofer Professional Associations
Roofers can join the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) where they can take specialized training. They also have access to the NRCA bookstore and the NRCA university which provides up-to-date roofing information via online or classroom courses or customized training. Roofers can also learn about industry best practices and view the classified ads.
Roofers can also join the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied workers. This labor union provides education and training and also offers members the ability to join a pension plan if their employer is a contributor.