Detailed Guide for Roofers in California
May also be called: Built-Up Roofers; Composition Roofers; Cool Roofing Installers; Green Roofers; Metal Roofers; Roofing Applicators; Single-Ply Roofers; Slate Roofers; Tile Roofers; Waterproofers; Wood Shingle Roofers
What Would I Do?
Roofers repair, replace, and install roofs made of composite (asphalt) or wood shingles, or other materials, such as clay or concrete tile, metal, slate, rubber, or thermoplastic. Most commercial roofs are applied in layers using a "hot mop" method. A small but growing number of buildings now have “green” roofs that incorporate plants.
There are two types of roofs - steep-slope and low-slope (which includes flat-top roofs). Most homes have steep-slope roofs that rise more than four inches per horizontal foot and are usually covered with shingles. Most commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings have low-slope roofs that rise four inches or less per horizontal foot and are installed in layers, single ply, or with metal panels. Some Roofers work on both types of roofs, while others may specialize in either steep-slope or low-slope roofs.
To apply shingles, Roofers first lay, cut, and tack three-foot-wide strips of roofing felt (also known as tar paper) over the entire roof. Starting from a lower corner edge, Roofers then staple or nail overlapping rows of shingles to the roof. They also measure and cut felt and shingles to fit intersecting roof surfaces and to fit around vent pipes and chimneys. Wherever two roof surfaces intersect, or shingles reach a vent pipe or chimney, Roofers cement or nail flashing (strips of metal) over the joints to make them watertight. Lastly, exposed nailheads are covered with roofing cement or caulking to prevent water leakage. Roofers who use metal shingles, tile, or shakes (rough wooden shingles) follow a similar process.
Most low-slope roofs are covered with several layers of materials. Roofers first put a layer of insulation on the roof deck; then spread a coat of hot bitumen (a tar-like substance) over the insulation. Next, they install overlapping layers of roofing felt; then use a mop to spread hot bitumen over the felt before adding another layer of felt. This seals the seams and makes the surface waterproof. These steps are repeated to build up the desired number of layers, called “plies.” The top layer is then glazed to make a smooth finish or gravel is embedded in the hot bitumen to create a rough surface.
An increasing number of low-slope roofs are covered with single-ply membranes of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compounds. Roofers roll these sheets over the roof's insulation and seal the seams. Adhesive, mechanical fasteners, or stone ballast hold the sheets in place. Roofers must make sure the building is strong enough to hold the stone ballast.
A “green” roof begins with a single- or multi-ply waterproof layer. After it is proven to be leak-free, Roofers apply a root barrier over the waterproof layer, then apply layers of soil, in which trees and grass are planted. Roofers are responsible for making sure the roof is watertight and can withstand the weight and water needs of the plants.
Roofers typically use tools such as roof rippers, hammers, saws, and pulleys in their daily work. They may also use analytical, computer aided design (CAD), or project management software.
Roofers will play a role in the emerging green economy through the installation and maintenance of energy-efficient roofing materials. In order to meet the State of California’s energy efficiency standards, some non-residential roofs may be required to have a “cool roof.” A cool roof has a special coating applied to the roof that reflects sunlight rather than absorbing the heat into the building below, thereby reducing air-conditioning costs.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Green economy activities and technologies would most likely have an effect on Roofers. Advancements in technology may cause changes to the work and worker requirements, such as new tasks, skills, knowledge, and credentials. Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Inspect problem roofs to determine the best procedures for repairing them.||Critical Thinking|
|Set up scaffolding to provide safe access to roofs.||Gross Body Equilibrium|
|Align roofing materials with edges of roofs.||Near Vision|
|Clean and maintain equipment.||Operation Monitoring|
|Cement or nail flashing-strips of metal or shingle over joints to make them watertight.||Arm-Hand Steadiness|
|Cut felt, shingles, and strips of flashing; and fit them into angles formed by walls, vents, and intersecting roof surfaces.||Mathematics|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
|Gross Body Equilibrium||The ability to keep or regain your body balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.|
|Near Vision||The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).|
|Operation Monitoring||Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.|
|Arm-Hand Steadiness||The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.|
|Mathematics||Using mathematics to solve problems.|
Roofers work outdoors, typically in dry weather; however, they may work in inclement weather, particularly when making repairs. Most Roofers work a 40-hour week, but due to the seasonal nature of the job, they may work fewer hours in the winter and frequent overtime in the summer.
Roofing work is strenuous. It involves heavy lifting as well as climbing, bending, and kneeling. Workers risk burns from hot bitumen or falls from roofs, ladders, or scaffolds. Safety precautions can prevent most accidents. Roofs can be extremely slippery in wet conditions; therefore, Roofers should take extra precaution if it is necessary to walk on a wet roof. In addition, roofs can become extremely hot during the summer, causing heat-related illnesses.
Some employers require that Roofers have their own tools.
Many Roofers belong to the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Roofer may appeal to those who enjoy being outdoors, are not afraid of heights, and like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. This occupation satisfies those with realistic interests. Realistic occupations often deal with real-world materials, such as wood, tools, and machinery and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Roofers in California was $50,698 annually, or $24.37 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Roofers covered by union contracts generally receive medical, dental, and vision insurance as well as vacation, holiday, and retirement benefits. Self-employed Roofers are responsible for their own benefits.
What is the Job Outlook?
Since having a rain-tight roof is not something homeowners or business owners can put off indefinitely, demand for Roofers is typically not as affected by the economy as other construction trades. Also, the emerging green economy may be a source of job opportunities due to the retrofitting of existing buildings.(1)
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Roofers is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Roofers are expected to increase by 48.8 percent, or 8,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 800 new job openings per year is expected for Roofers, plus an additional 250 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 1,050 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Most employers seek Roofers with a high school diploma or its equivalent. Roofers typically learn their skills on the job by assisting experienced workers with roof tearoffs, cleaning and preparing roof decks, carrying and stacking materials, and moving ladders. Since Roofers work off the ground, sometimes several stories high, safety is an important aspect of their training. Roofers must be in good physical condition and have a good sense of balance and hand-eye coordination. Roofers should be knowledgeable of the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen). CALGreen will affect most new construction projects, including residential and commercial (non-residential) buildings.(1)
Employers often look for workers who are familiar with hand and power tools and have the ability to do basic problem solving.
Early Career Planning
High school preparation should include courses in wood and metal shop, basic mathematics, and English.
Training programs may also be available through Regional Occupational Programs (ROP). To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
Some Roofers learn the trade through formal apprenticeship programs offered through roofing contractors and local unions. Most programs require 42 months of on-the-job training plus related classroom instruction. Apprenticeship program applicants must be at least 18 years of age and physically able to perform the work. Most programs require a high school diploma or the equivalent. For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards Web site.
There are currently no requirements for continuing education for journey-level Roofers; however, local unions or roofing associations may offer continuing education and training to learn new techniques and methods or to improve existing skills. In addition, Roofers may need to keep current on updates and changes to the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen).(1)
(1)This workforce solution was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. The solution was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. This solution is copyrighted by the institution that created it. Internal use by an organization and/or personal use by an individual for non-commercial purposes is permissible. All other uses require the prior authorization of the copyright owner.
Licensing and Certification
Employees work under the license of the employer/contractor. Self-employed Roofers must be licensed by the State of California Contractors State License Board. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.
Roofers may hold one or more certificates such as: Registered Roof Observer or Registered Weatherproofing Consultant. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Roofers are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Building Foundation/Exterior Contractors ||76.5%|
|Building Finishing Contractors ||1.6%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job listings may also provide job leads. Roofers who belong to a union can also find work through their local union hall. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Roofers.
- Building Contractors
- Roofing Contractors
- Roofing Maintenance & Repair
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
The ability to use a variety of roofing materials may provide more opportunities for the journey-level Roofer. Roofers may advance to become supervisors or estimators for a roofing contractor. Some Roofers obtain a contractor’s license from the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board and start their own business.
Below is a list of occupations related to Roofers with links to more information.
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||Guide|
|Construction and Related Workers, All Other*||Profile|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||Profile|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.