How to Become a Roofer
Most roofers learn their trade on the job.
There are no specific educational requirements for roofers. Although most roofers learn informally on the job, some learn their trade through a formal apprenticeship program.
Most on-the-job training programs consist of informal 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 get experience working on all types of roofing. As training progresses, assignments become more complex, and trainees can usually do finishing work within a short time.
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 construction basics, such as blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices.
After completing an apprenticeship program, roofers are considered journey workers who can do tasks on their own.
Several groups sponsor apprenticeship programs, including unions and contractor associations. 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
Although there are no formal educational requirements for roofers, high school courses in math, shop, mechanical drawing, and blueprint reading are helpful.
Balance. Roofing is often done on steep slopes at significant heights. As a result, workers should have excellent balance to avoid falling.
Physical strength. Roofers often lift and carry heavy materials. Some roofers, for example, must carry bundles of shingles that weigh 70 pounds or more.
Stamina. Roofers must have 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.
Unafraid of heights. Because work is often done at significant heights, roofers must not fear working far above the ground.