California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Green Leaf   Roofers in Los Angeles County

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.

Green Economy(1)
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
TaskSkill 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
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

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 2020 for Roofers in California was $54,330 annually, or $26.12 hourly. The median wage for Roofers in Los Angeles County was $57,807 annually, or $27.79 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2020Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Los Angeles County$48,343$57,807$67,764
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


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 at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Roofers are expected to increase by 8.8 percent, or 2,100 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

In Los Angeles County, 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 15.7 percent, or 350 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Los Angeles County
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth 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.

Apprenticeship Programs

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.

Continuing Education

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 TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Building Foundation/Exterior Contractors75.9%
Nonresidential Building Construction1.2%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

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 and CalJOBSSM at

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.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Roofers with links to more information.

Brickmasons and BlockmasonsGuide
Construction and Related Workers, All Other*Profile
Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble SettersProfile
Reinforcing Iron and Rebar WorkersProfile

Other Sources

  • California Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board
  • California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards
  • Independent Roofing Contractors of California
  • National Roofing Contractors Association
  • Union Roofing Contractors Association
  • United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers

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.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification47-2181
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RCI
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Roofer 460410
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)