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Through the roof: So you want to be a roofer?

Going into the construction industry holds a lot of appeal for people who aren’t averse to a bit of heavy work. You don’t even have to be hefty—just willing and able to put a bit of muscle into your job. Why is being a roofer such a good profession? The pay can be exceptionally good, and the demand for skilled workers such as roofers in the construction industry continues to rise, in tandem with consumer demand for their services.

I have found through the years that no matter what the economy is, there is always work. Especially after storms, which there seems to be a lot of lately. You are on top of the world when you are up there looking out over your surroundings. It isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy the outdoors and working with tools, it may be just the thing you have been looking for.
Becoming a roofer means being able to deal with working at great heights, if needed. A roof’s definitely no place for anyone with acrophobia. The best roofers are those who consider their work a craft rather than just a job. The essential difference being, of course, that the craftsman takes great pride in his work.

Do you have what it takes to be a roofer? Here are some things you ought to know:

What does a roofer do, exactly?

A roofer specializes in constructing roofs in both residential and commercial structures.

Roofers must be able to do a minimum of the following:

  • Install roof covering of asphalt, metal, or other materials to make the roof waterproof
  • Align roofing materials with edges of the roof
  • Cover exposed nail or screw heads with roofing cement or caulk to prevent leakage
  • Cut roofing materials to fit around walls or vents
  • Inspect to determine the best way to repair problem roofs
  • Install vapor barriers or layers of insulation
  • Replace rotting or damaged plywood or joists
  • Take measurements to calculate the quantities of materials needed

In addition, if you want to become a roofing contractor, you need to be able to advise the home or building owner on the type of material to use for the roof cover. You need to know how to make estimates and do roof inspections. What local weather conditions need to be considered, and what is budget they need to work with. All of these and more will come into play when you recommend roofing materials.

Educational Requirements

Becoming a roofer does not require that you get a college education. According to, potential roofers should gain adequate experience first. Generally, you must undergo a 2- to 3-year apprenticeship program through a local roofers' union. At the minimum, prospective roofers are expected to have classroom training totaling some 144 hours each year, and complete at least 2,000 hours of practical on-the-job experience as well.

The classroom training will equip you with solid knowledge of tools of the trade and their uses, how to read building plans, and other important aspects such as safety principles as well as the principles of construction. Working on-site with more experienced roofers such as me will help you put your knowledge to good use. It is this practical knowledge that will enable you to figure out problems on the fly and come up with creative solutions that will help you build your professional reputation.

The Basics

Apart from not being scared of heights, a roofer has to have an excellent sense of balance. Good carpentry skills and some knowledge of metalworking are needed as well. You will also need to be in good physical condition as you will be doing a lot of climbing and will have to exert a good amount of physical effort on the job.

Industry Outlook

There is always a demand for professionals who can take care of building, replacing or repairing roofs. In fact, an 11% increase in career opportunities is predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor between 2012-2022. BLS statistics also place yearly wages for roofers at an average of $38,760.

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