The roof is an essential element of any structure. It’s important that the roof be waterproof and structurally solid. Roofers are trained in a variety of roofing methods, materials and slopes. However, a roofing career is not as well defined as other construction career paths. Most future roofers work under another more experienced roofing professional for years before striking out on their own, but there is no pre-defined training program or method in the United States. Many states don’t even require licensing to be a roofer.

If your future career goal is to become a trusted roofer in your community, start with training under a more experienced roofer. Once you have a basic set of skills, you can think about finding the niche market you want to appeal to. There are many types of roofing and specializing in one or several of these kinds of roofing will make your business stand out in the market.

Career Outlook

Roofing is a stable career choice. The construction industry shows no signs of slowing in new construction. Plus, regardless of the roofing material chosen, they will all wear and are exposed to the potential for severe weather. Repairs and replacements compose of about 75% of a roofer’s time.

The national average salary for a roofer is $46,000. Roofing is a competitive field, and you or your company will need to bid on jobs, manage resources and budget your time in order to be successful and profitable.

Training

The most common way to become a roofer is to work your way up. Start as a laborer with a roofing company where you can observe and get on-the-job training. Other training methods include:

  • Apprenticeship- Most apprenticeships for roofing last from two to five years and include class work and on-the-job training. The average requirements are 144 hours per year of instruction time and 2,000 hours per year of onsite training.
  • Technical or trade school classes- Your local community college or trade school may have classes specific to the roofing industry. There are also schools that are dedicated to training future roofers such as Horizon Roofing in Minnesota.

Roofer’s organizations and unions

In addition to talking to local roofers about apprenticeship and training program, these unions and organizations may be able to help you find the mentorship you need to become a roofer:

  • United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers- Their three to five year programs teach you everything you need to know to install residential and commercial roofing and complete rooftop and basement waterproofing.
  • National Roofing Contractors Association- NRCA University offers a wide variety of online learning opportunities including classes about specific kinds of roofing materials, management skills, new roofing technology and safety. They also offer a one-day CERTA training specifically for the application of torch-down roofing.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors- ABC offers a three year program that covers classwork and hands on training in all areas of roofing such as calculations, materials, flashing, gutters, permitting and more. Start by finding your local chapter to see what training programs are available.
  • National Centers for Construction Education and Research- The NCCER roofing program consists of two courses that will prepare you to take the NRCA ProCertification Exam.
  • Many states and regions also have roofing contractors associations for support and education. A Google search of roofing associations near me will help you find the one closes to you that can offer additional information and connect you with roofers who are willing to take on apprentices.

Licensing

Not all states require a license for roofing pros. However, having certifications and licenses will increase your customer’s trust in your work and skills, help you win more jobs and command a higher price for your advanced abilities. If you are required to take an exam and earn a license, it will be through your state’s Contractor’s Licensing Board. Find out here what your state requires in order to work as a roofer.

Niche Roofing Skills

Roofers can work with most materials, either laying new roofing or repairing damaged portions of a roof. However, some homeowners may be looking for a roofing contractor with experience with certain materials or methods. Some of the niche skills you could pursue include:

With experience and a proven record of success and customer satisfaction, you can specialize in any area of roofing your local community demands. See what kinds of roofing materials are most popular where you intend to work and focus on building your skills in those areas. In addition to the niches listed above, consider these areas of specialization:

  • Metal roofing
  • Commercial roofing
  • Gutters
  • Leak detection
  • Thatching
  • Flat roofs
  • Wood shake roofing
  • Asphalt roofing

Some manufacturers also offer training for their specific products. While you aren’t required to have the certification to apply the roofing material, it offers you a leg up and the chance to get referrals directly from the company. Some businesses that offer these specific training include:

  • GAF
  • CertainTeed
  • Owens Corning
  • TAMKO
  • Duro-Last
  • Johns Manville
  • Firestone
  • Intertek
  • ATAS International
  • Englert
  • MBCI


Roofing is a stable career choice but also physically demanding. You will be working outside in all kinds of weather, on sloped surfaces high above the ground. Most roofers start by working as a laborer for a professional roofer to gain experience and knowledge about the process, materials and dangers. Advancing your training can help you land more jobs and earn more money. Because of the variety of roofing materials and styles, there is a large market for roofers trained in specific niche markets.

Trades.org wants to see you succeed in your career. We make it easy for your next customer to find you when we highlight your skills and reputation on your website, social media accounts and trade-specific profiles. We’ll help you develop the fulfilling business that provides for your family and gives you opportunities to advance throughout your career.