Roofers install, repair and replace flat and sloped roofs. They work with membrane roofing systems that consist of a variety of materials with different application methods. They also install, replace and repair shingles, slate, shakes, roofing tiles, sheet metal and other preformed sheeting on sloped roofs.
Before the work begins, roofers may inspect existing roof systems and determine the extent and procedure for repair of the substrate or removal and replacement of roofing materials. Some roofers may be involved in the estimating of material and installation costs.
As part of the job preparation, roofers may set up scaffolding to provide safe access to the work area and may install fall protection systems. They also weatherproof, waterproof and damp-proof roofing surfaces, foundation walls, floor slabs and bridge decks. They install roofing accessories such as sheet metal flashings, roof vent flashings, anchor bolt flashings, drain inserts and clamps.
Roofers may be employed by roofing companies, general contractors or they may be self-employed. They may work on all types of roofs or may specialize in the flat or low sloped roofs of commercial and industrial buildings or on the steep sloped roofs found in most residential buildings.
Key attributes for people in this trade are mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity and the ability to work as a team. Roofers work primarily outdoors and work may be seasonal. The work environment is exposed and may vary from extreme cold to extreme heat. Roofing is physically demanding work and requires considerable effort in lifting, climbing, bending, kneeling and balancing on high, sloped and sometimes slippery surfaces.
Roofers work in conjunction with other tradespeople in the construction trades. With additional training, roofers may transfer their skills to related occupations such as carpenter or sheet metal worker. With experience, they may advance to positions such as supervisors, contractors or inspectors.