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The moment one of the first humans decided to make a covering for their hut, the job of roofer began. It is something most of us take for granted. If however, you have ever heard the plink, plink! of water dripping into pots in your living room because of a leak, you understand the importance of roofers.

Roofers are responsible for laying insulation, vapor retarders, built-up or flat-deck roofs. They lay covering on roof frames using materials such as tile, slate, wood, shakes and shingles and apply roof waterproofing. Roofers may also waterproof floors, foundations and below-grade pipes and tanks using materials such as pitch, tar, asphalt, plastic, and rubberized materials, in non-residential buildings.

Besides a having a solid knowledge of the products they are working with, they also need the ability to assess the existing conditions and make an estimate of the materials and labor needed to complete the job. Roofers work in high places, during all sorts of weather. They must have physical stamina and not mind getting dirty. Roofing can be a dangerous and dirty job.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Roofers are able to work well at heights. They are physically fit and able to lift heavy materials. They have an interest and knowledge of how to install, repair and replace roofing systems and the correct materials to use for each project. Roofers are able to work well as part of a team giving or taking directions. Workers in this occupation must be able to work in noisy environments, and outdoors in extreme heat and cold to get the job done.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Install, repair or replace built-up roofing systems using materials such as hot asphalt and gravel
  • Install, repair or replace roofing systems using waterproof sheet materials such as modified plastics, elastomeric or other asphaltic compositions
  • Install, repair or replace shingles, shakes and other roofing tiles on sloped roofs of buildings
  • Apply waterproof coatings to concrete or other masonry surfaces below or above ground level
  • Install and repair metal roofs using hand and power tools
  • Set up scaffolding to provide safe access to roofs.
  • Due to the nature of the work, roofers work in the daytime. They work outdoors in all sorts of weather. Generally they work an eight-hour day but they may work longer hours to complete a job. Roofers will work on different sites and therefore their work environment is constantly changing.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Roofers work outdoors at sometimes great heights. They are employed by roofing contractors or they may be self-employed.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There is potential for advancement in this occupation with education and experience. Certified roofers can go on to lead their own roofing crews, start their own businesses, or teach roofing practices at a training center.

  Educational Paths  
Roofers receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a roofer, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the roofer a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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