Roofers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
There are no specific education requirements for roofers.
Training Required
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.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 11% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Median pay: How much do Roofers make?
$37,760 Annual Salary
$18.15 per hour

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

What do Roofers do?

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. 

Careers for Roofers

  • Composition roofers
  • Hot tar roofers
  • Industrial roofers
  • Metal roofing mechanics
  • Residential roofers
  • Sheet metal roofers
  • Shingles roofers
  • Slate roofers
  • Slaters
  • Terra cotta roofers

Similar Careers