What Roofers Do
Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings.
Roofing work is physically demanding because it involves climbing, bending, kneeling, and heavy lifting. Roofers may work overtime in order to finish a particular job, especially during busy summer months.
How to Become a Roofer
There are typically no formal education requirements for roofers. Although most roofers learn on the job, some enter the occupation through an apprenticeship.
The median annual wage for roofers was $42,100 in May 2019.
Employment of roofers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. In addition, openings are projected to arise from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons.
Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings, using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen, and metal.
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
- Remove existing roof systems
- Install vapor barriers or layers of insulation
- Install roof ventilation
- 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 installing and repairing roofs keeps water from leaking into buildings and damaging the interior, including equipment and furnishings. Roofers install or repair two basic types of roofs: low slope and steep slope.
Low-slope roofs are the most common, as they are typical on commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings. The complexity of installing low-slope roofs varies with the type of building. Roofers may install these roofs in layers, building up piles of felt set in hot bitumen over insulation boards to form a waterproof membrane. They also may install a single-ply membrane of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compound over roof insulation boards.
Steep-slope roofs are typical on single-family homes. Roofers commonly install asphalt shingles, although they may also lay tile, solar shingles, metal shingles, slate, or shakes (rough wooden shingles) on steep-slope roofs.
Roofers also install green technology rooftop applications. These include vegetative roofs, rainwater harvesting systems, and photovoltaic products, such as solar shingles and solar tiles; however, 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 installing or repairing roofs. Their tools include roofing shovels, roof cutters, and pry bars to remove old roofing systems and hammers, nail guns, and framing squares to install new ones.
Roofers held about 161,600 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of roofers were as follows:
|Construction of buildings||3|
Roofing work is physically demanding because it involves climbing, bending, kneeling, and heavy lifting. Roofers work outdoors in extreme temperatures, but they usually do not work during inclement weather.
Although some roofers work alone, many work as part of a crew.
Injuries and Illnesses
Roofers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations, as well as one of the highest rates of occupational fatalities.
Workers may slip or fall from scaffolds, ladders, or roofs. They may also be burned by hot bitumen. Roofs can become extremely hot during the summer, causing heat-related illnesses. Roofers must wear proper safety equipment to reduce the risk of injuries.
Most roofers work full time. In northern states, roofing work may be limited during the winter months. During the busy summer months, roofers may work overtime to complete jobs.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of roofers.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$48,330|
Construction Laborers and Helpers
Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.
|See How to Become One||$36,000|
Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers
Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting.
|No formal educational credential||$47,360|
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||$42,050|
Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings or mechanical systems.
|See How to Become One||$44,180|
Masonry workers use bricks, concrete and concrete blocks, and natural and manmade stones to build structures.
|See How to Become One||$46,500|
Sheet Metal Workers
Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$50,400|
Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$44,890|
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 Apprenticeship program online, or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.
For more information about the work of roofers, visit
For more information about OSHA training, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Roofers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/roofers.htm (visited ).