Rise Above: Exploring a Career as a Roofer
In Arizona, where heat rises in the Valley and snow falls in the mountains, everyone deserves a roof over their head. As structures advance, so have the materials, skills, and techniques for building the roofs. From traditional thatched huts to the architectural wonders of today, roofing has come a long way in safeguarding the places we live, work, and sleep.
What do roofers do?
Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings, using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen (asphalt), slate, spray foam, PVC, TPO, EPDM, and metal.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor outlines the work roofers do:
- 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
What different types of roofers are there?
There are four primary categories of roofing jobs available:
- Residential Roofers primarily work on roofing projects for private homes and residential properties. Residential roofing is typically “steep slope”, especially for single-family homes. They generally deal in tile, metal shingles, slate, wooden “shake” shingles, or other materials that get nailed into the roof.
- Commercial Roofers focus on larger-scale roofing projects for commercial buildings, such as offices, warehouses, and shopping centers. They’re usually part of a large team and work on “low-slope” or flat roofs consisting of single-ply,spray foam, PVC, TPO, EPDM, and metalroofing materials.
- Industrial Roofers deal with roofing projects for industrial facilities and large-scale manufacturing or processing plants using primarily PVC, TPO, EPDM roofing systems.
- Emergency Roofers are available for urgent roof repair services, especially after storms, leaks, or other emergencies.
What hours do roofers work?
While schedules may vary by the type, location, and scope of their work, roofers generally work full-time during daylight hours. Nevertheless, factors such as time of year, location, and weather may affect this.
How much do roofers make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for roofers in 2021 was $47,110. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,000, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,000. Apprentices start at about half that of a journeyman worker, but compensation can jump quickly as they gain experience and skills.
What is the job outlook for roofers?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that roofers held about 158,800 jobs in 2021, with the job outlook considered to be steady through 2031. Nearly 73% of roofers worked for licensed roofing contractors and 18% were self-employed.
What training do I need? How do I get started to become a roofer?
Most roofers start out as apprentices for a roofing contractor. Some contractors may require completion of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-compliant safety certification, either before or after being hired. Finally, some employers require roofers to have a driver’s license to enable commuting to different job sites.
If you’re considering a career as a roofer, here are some steps to get started:
- Have an understanding of what it takes to be a roofer, including:
- Ability to work at heights. Roofers must be comfortable working at great heights
- Attention to detail. Roofing materials must be installed to precisely match design patterns and to ensure that the roof is waterproof
- Roofers should have excellent balance to avoid falling because they frequently work on steep slopes
- Manual dexterity. Roofers need to be precise in handling and installing roofing materials in order to prevent damage to the roof and building
- Math skills. Roofers use math to measure and calculate roofing areas
- Physical stamina. Roofers must be able to endure spending hours on their feet or bending and stooping, often in hot weather
- Physical strength. Roofers often lift and carry heavy materials, such as bundles of shingles that weigh 60 pounds or more
- Understand any state requirements to become a roofer, such as passing licensing exams and continuing education courses. For example, in Arizona, you need a contractor’s license to have your own roofing contracting company, though it’s possible to work for a licensed contractor without one.
- Build out a network of personal connections within the industry by attending trade shows and joining professional organizations. Also, consider reaching out to experienced roofers or roofing contractors to see if they offer mentorship opportunities. The Arizona Roofing Contractors Association is the local affiliate of the National Roofing Contractors Association.
- Once you get some experience, you can get your contracting license.
- There are two types of Roofer specialty contracting licenses, Residential and Commercial (and it’s possible to be dual-certified, too)
- 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, or become certified as a roofing foreman
A career as a roofer offers stability, good earning potential, and the opportunity to work in a hands-on field.
For a listing of roofing and other construction career opportunities, visit the Build Your Future Career Center.
The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation‘s Construction Workforce Initiative, Build Your Future Arizona’s mission is to create a sustainable and skilled craft workforce by creating awareness about high-paying construction careers, training opportunities and mapping career paths to employment in these high-demand occupations.