Summary

roofers image
Roofers use a variety of tools when working on roofs depending on the type of roof being installed.
Quick Facts: Roofers
2016 Median Pay $37,760 per year
$18.15 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, 2016 146,200
Job Outlook, 2016-26 11% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 16,500

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 because it involves heavy lifting, as well as climbing, bending, and kneeling, frequently in very hot weather. Roofers may work overtime in order to finish a particular job, especially during busier summer months.

How to Become a Roofer

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

Pay

The median annual wage for roofers was $37,760 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of roofers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Most of the demand for roofers will stem from roof replacement needs and 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
Roofers install shingles, asphalt, metal, or other materials to make the roof weatherproof.

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 ventilation systems
  • 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 roofs and steep-slope roofs.

Low-slope roofs rise less than 3 inches per horizontal foot and are installed in layers. Most commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings have low-slope roofs, making them the most common roofing type. The complexity of low-slope roof installations varies with the type of building. When installing low-slope roofs, roofers typically install a single-ply membrane of a waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compound.

Steep-slope roofs rise more than 3 inches per horizontal foot and are typically covered with asphalt shingles, which often cost less than other materials. Most single-family homes have roofs with asphalt shingles. Although less common, roofers can also lay tile, solar shingles, metal shingles, or shakes (rough wooden shingles) on steep-slope roofs.

Roofing systems may also incorporate plants and landscape materials. A vegetative roof, for example, is typically a waterproof low-slope roof covered by a root barrier and harboring soil, plants, and landscaping materials.

It is becoming increasingly popular to take advantage of solar energy on rooftops. Roofs may incorporate solar reflective systems, which prevent the absorption of energy; solar thermal systems, which absorb energy to heat water; and solar photovoltaic systems, which convert 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.

Roofers use a variety of tools when working on roofs, depending on the type of roof being installed. They may use roofing shovels and pry bars to remove old roofing systems. They may use hammers, nail guns, drills, knives, pavers, tape measures, chalk lines, and framing squares to install new roofing systems. 

Work Environment About this section

Roofers
Roofing work can be physically demanding since it involves heavy lifting, climbing, bending, and kneeling.

Roofers held about 146,200 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of roofers were as follows:

Roofing contractors 71%
Self-employed workers 21
Construction of buildings 3

Roofing work can be physically demanding because it involves heavy lifting, as well as climbing, bending, and kneeling. Roofers work outdoors in very hot or very cold weather, but they do not work when there is precipitation or when it is very windy.

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. Roofs can become extremely hot during the summer, causing heat-related illnesses. Proper safety precautions and equipment can prevent most accidents and fatalities.

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.

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 may enter the occupation through an apprenticeship program. There are no specific education requirements for roofers.

Education

There are no specific education requirements for roofers.

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. Later they are shown how 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, new workers are able to learn more complex roofing techniques.

A few groups, including the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers and some contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs for roofers. Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.

Important Qualities

Balance. Roofers should have excellent balance to avoid falling, because the work is often done on steep slopes at significant heights.

Manual dexterity. Roofers need to be precise when installing roofing materials and handling roofing tools, in order to prevent damage to the roof and building.

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.

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. Roofers must not fear working far above the ground, because the work is often done at significant heights.

Pay About this section

Roofers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Construction trades workers

$42,310

Roofers

$37,760

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for roofers was $37,760 in May 2016. 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 $25,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,630.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for roofers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Roofing contractors $37,740
Construction of buildings 37,480

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.

Job Outlook About this section

Roofers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Roofers

11%

Construction trades workers

11%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of roofers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, 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. Demand for roofers will be driven by the need to repair and replace roofs on existing buildings. In addition to replacement and repair work, the need to install roofs on new buildings is expected to result in job growth. Some demand for roofers may come from the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on building rooftops.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities for roofers should be good. Many jobs will stem 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.

Demand for roofers is less vulnerable to downturns than demand for other construction workers, 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, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Roofers

47-2181 146,200 162,700 11 16,500 employment projections excel document 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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

High school diploma or equivalent $43,600
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 $32,230
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 $42,280
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 $39,150
Insulation workers

Insulation Workers

Insulation workers, also called insulators, install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems.

See How to Become One $39,280
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 $41,330
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 $46,940
solar photovoltaic installers image

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, install, and maintain solar panel systems on rooftops or other structures.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,240

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 & Allied Workers

O*NET

Roofers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Roofers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/roofers.htm (visited November 21, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

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Work Environment

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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 CareerOneStop.

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

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Contacts for More Information

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2016 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 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

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, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

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 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 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 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.