How do I Become a Roofer?

Jodee Redmond

If you want to work as a roofer, you need to get specialized training. To get qualified for this type of work, you need to successfully complete an apprenticeship program. The program teaches people who are interested in working in this branch of construction the skills they need to install roofing products and make repairs to existing structures.

Roofers must have no fear of heights, as most of their work involves moving around atop large residences.
Roofers must have no fear of heights, as most of their work involves moving around atop large residences.

A fully-licensed roofer is trained to work on different types of projects. Residential roofers install shingles on homes. They also inspect for water damage, wind, and hail. Commercial roofers work on structures where businesses are located.

A roofer is responsible for the installation and repair of roof shinges.
A roofer is responsible for the installation and repair of roof shinges.

Essential skills for a roofer include the ability to read plans. Roofers also need to be able to use a hammer and other hand tools as part of their job. The job may also involve delivering or lifting materials up to the roof area before work can begin. Good communication skills and the ability to work well as part of a team are also essential skills for this type of work.

Rules and regulations for becoming a licensed roofer vary from state to state, but typically you'll need a certain amount of on-the-job experience or to undergo an apprenticeship.
Rules and regulations for becoming a licensed roofer vary from state to state, but typically you'll need a certain amount of on-the-job experience or to undergo an apprenticeship.

A person who is interested in working as a roofer should not be afraid of heights. He or she must be comfortable working in an area that is high above the ground, and at various angles. Some roof surfaces are steeply angled and the person working in that area must be able to concentrate on the job.

The apprenticeship program for a roofer takes three years to complete. The trainee completes 4,000 hours of training to get licensed to do this kind of work. The program includes classroom instruction as well as on-the-job training. While the apprentice is learning on the job, his or her work is supervised by an experience roofer.

To become a licensed roofer, the apprentice must pass a written exam after completing the apprenticeship program. A qualified roofer may be able to find work with a roofing contracting company or a construction firm. Some roofers belong to a union and are hired from union halls for available projects. Once the individual gains some experience on the job, he may want to start his own roofing contracting company, hiring employees to work for him.

Roofing is seasonal work, and the person who chooses to make a living in this way will be very busy over the warmer months. They can't work in wet or windy conditions, so there may be times when they are unable to work during the summer. During times when new construction is slow, roofers can still get work doing repairs for customers.

Roofers often must obtain specialized licenses.
Roofers often must obtain specialized licenses.

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Discussion Comments

tlcJPC

I’ve been working with local roofers for some years now, and I’ve got to say that one other thing people out there should be aware of before jumping into it is the affect it has on their knees and health in general.

I’ve always been healthy, and I’m thankful for it, but I do have a lot of trouble with my knees from being on them and hammering down shingles all day long. Knee pads help a lot, though.

Also, people who roof need to be aware of the fact that it gets really hot up on a roof in the summer. Staying hydrated is really important.

Many people can roof for a living until retirement, and make a good life for themselves and their families. But if a person can’t handle the heat and the physical part of the job, they might be better off going into something else.

poppyseed

My family and I live in an area where there is always construction of some type or another going on. We’re close to the coast, and people are always trying to build their dream beach home, I guess.

This leads to tons and tons…and tons of construction companies and roofing contractors, both good and bad. One thing that I have noticed when trying to find roofers is that often you will find people who really are not all that qualified for their job right along with the ones who are.

Now I’m not saying that everyone who learns the roofing trade through on the job experience are bad roofers. Not at all! But I am saying that in the companies and people I’ve known of that had mostly tag-a-long, just-doing-this-to-make-money-for-the-weekend kind of employees had far less exemplary work.

Those who had folks that were really trying to earn a living and support their families tended to have better luck. And it just so happens that these are the kind of folks that often have more formal training, as well.

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