How to Become a Roofer
Most roofers learn their trade on the job working with experienced coworkers.
There are no specific education requirements for roofers. Although most learn on the job, some roofers enter the occupation through an apprenticeship.
No formal educational credential is typically required for roofers.
Roofers typically receive on-the-job training to become competent in the occupation. In most on-the-job training programs, experienced roofers 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 a few months, they learn to measure, cut, and fit roofing materials. Later, they lay asphalt or fiberglass shingles. Because some roofing materials, such as solar tiles, are used infrequently, it may take several years to gain experience for all types of roofing.
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 technical instruction, usually requiring a predetermined number of hours for both.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Roofers may obtain specific certification to qualify for additional work opportunities or greater pay.
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. Certification as a roofing foreman is also available for experienced roofers.
Most employers require that roofers complete safety certification that meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, either before or after being hired.
Some employers require roofers to have a driver’s license to enable commuting to different jobsites.
After gaining experience in the occupation, roofers may have opportunities to advance to become a supervisor, job superintendent, or estimator or to start their own business. Roofers working in a union may advance within their local union to become a business manager or apprenticeship instructor or to other positions of union leadership.
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.
Balance. Roofers should have excellent balance to avoid falling, because they often work on steep slopes at great heights.
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.