Summary

roofers image
Roofers install ceramic tiles as well as asphalt shingles.
Quick Facts: Roofers
2015 Median Pay $36,720 per year
$17.65 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 123,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 13% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 15,800

What Roofers Do

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

Work Environment

Roofing work can be physically demanding. It involves heavy lifting, as well as climbing, bending, and kneeling, frequently in very hot weather. Overtime may be required to finish a job, especially during busier summer months.

How to Become a Roofer

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

Pay

The median annual wage for roofers was $36,720 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of roofers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Most of the demand for roofers will stem from roof replacement needs and high job turnover.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for roofers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of roofers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about roofers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Roofers Do About this section

Roofers
Roofing involves heavy lifting, bending, climbing, and kneeling.

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

Duties

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 About this section

Roofers
Some low slope roofs are covered with multiple layers of tar paper and bitumen.

Roofers held about 123,400 jobs in 2014, of which 72 percent were in the roofing contractors industry. About 1 in 5 roofers were 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.

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 were self-employed in 2014. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedules.

How to Become a Roofer About this section

Roofers
Most roofers learn their trade on the job working with experienced coworkers.

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

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.

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

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.

Pay About this section

Roofers

Median annual wages, May 2015

Construction trades workers

$41,020

Roofers

$36,720

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for roofers was $36,720 in May 2015. 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 were self-employed in 2014. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Roofers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Roofers

13%

Construction trades workers

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of roofers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2014 to 2024, 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.

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 SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Roofers

47-2181 123,400 139,300 13 15,800 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of roofers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct and repair building frameworks and structures—such as stairways, doorframes, partitions, rafters, and bridge supports—made from wood and other materials. They also may install kitchen cabinets, siding, and drywall.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,090
Construction laborers and helpers

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

See How to Become One $30,890
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

No formal educational credential $40,470
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons

Masonry Workers

Masonry workers, also known as masons, use bricks, concrete blocks, concrete, and natural and manmade stones to build walls, walkways, fences, and other masonry structures.

See How to Become One $39,640
Sheet metal workers

Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets, such as ducts used in heating and air conditioning systems.

High school diploma or equivalent $45,750
solar photovoltaic installers image

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, often called PV installers, assemble, install, or maintain solar panel systems on roofs or other structures.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,830
Tile and marble setters

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

No formal educational credential $38,230

Contacts for More Information About this section

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities for roofers, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, local contractors or firms that employ roofers, or local union-management apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor's ApprenticeshipUSA program online or by phone at 877-872-5627.

For more information about the work of roofers, visit

National Roofing Contractors Association

United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers

O*NET

Roofers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Roofers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/roofers.htm (visited September 27, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

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How to Become One

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Pay

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.