How to become a roofer: roofing responsibilities
Not surprisingly, roofers use their specialized skills to ensure your home has a proper roof that protects you from rain, wind, snow and other elements. They are the guys who patch holes or build you a completely new roof.
Roofs tend to work on all types of roofs, from asphalt to cedar to metal. These roofs are either sloped or flat. Slopped roofs usually require slating, tiling, or asphalt while a flat roof uses a bitumen layer or fitting felt sheets.
A large part of a roofer’s work is making sure your roof is structurally sound. They repair roofs by removing and replacing broken tiles, cutting, and fitting roofing material.
How Do You Become a Roofer?
There are no specific schooling or academic requirements to become a roofer. They do not need to have a trade certificate or any licence to work in B.C, although there is a certification people can take to enhance their employability. Most roofers start off at the bottom and work their way up first as common labourers while others might go through apprenticeships with professional roofing companies.
Roofers need to be nimble with their hands and need to be able to think on their feet. They also need to be able to handle heights. They should be able to understand architect plans and have some math skills to measure out the different materials. Roofers must also enjoy being outside in the elements and a background in construction certainly helps. It’s a physically demanding job, requiring lots of dexterity. There is a lot of crouching, bending and kneeling involved.
A roofer involves repairing, replacing and installing new roofs on homes or commercial properties. They work with many different types of materials including asphalt, tiles, slates, bitumen, and metal sheets.
The work they put into a roof will ensure that the roof will endure weather of all types including rain, snow, sun and everyday wear-and-tear for years to come.
The Roofers Contractors Association of British Columba (RCABC) is a leader in the roofing industry. RCABC has trained over 1,500 apprentices in the 20 years. Apprentices from throughout British Columbia are engaged in learning theory and practical applications, the latest application technology, current product information and safe work practices. RCABC instructors have over 50 years combined industry experience and keep up to date with developing product technology and applications.
For those interested in roofing, you may be able to find apprenticeship programs or a local unior or contractor association who will sponsor them. The typical entry qualifications for something like a 3-year apprenticeship include:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent degree/certificate
- Be physically capable of performing the job
Becoming a roofer also requires one be physically fit and healthy enough. Along with possessing a good attitude, to perform the job. Roofers often work in warm weather, on hot roofs, and may sometimes need to climb quite high in order to complete a project. This means being okay with heights and hot weather are very important for anyone considering a career in roofing.
Roofers construct and repair roofs on all kinds of buildings. The jobs can range from stripping and re-slating a roof on a domestic household, working on a renovation project on an historic building, to working as part of a team on a new commercial development such as a shopping centre.
Roofers perform some or all of the following duties:
- Install, repair or replace built-up roofing systems using materials such as asphalt saturated felts and hot asphalt and gravel
- Install, repair or replace single-ply roofing systems using waterproof sheet materials such as modified plastics, elastomeric or other asphaltic compositions
- Install, repair or replace shingles, shakes and other roofing tiles on sloped roofs of buildings
- Install sheet metal flashings and metal roofs using hand and power tools
Skills and Attributes Roofers Need
Working as a roofer is most rewarding for those who enjoy physical exercise, working with their hands, developing special skills, and the security of steady employment.
A roofer should have the following skills and attributes to be successful:
Ability to work both independently and in a team setting
Good physical condition and ability to lift heavy objects
Good manual dexterity and an eye for detail
Comfortable working at heights
Interested in working outdoors
Ability to read and interpret drawings, specifications and manuals
Ability to work in varying weather conditions
Becoming Qualified as a Roofer
In B.C., an individual can become certified as a roofer by completing either the apprenticeship program through the Industry Training Authority (ITA) or by challenging the ITA Certificate of Qualification. Apprenticeship programs are for people who require more training and have employers to sponsor them, and challenging the Certificate of Qualification is for individuals who have extensive experience working in the occupation and wish to challenge the certification. For more information on the apprenticeship program fora roofer, visit the Industry Training Authority’s website. The duration of the apprenticeship program depends on how training is delivered, however it generally takes 3 years to complete the apprenticeship program through ITA.
If you are already an experienced roofer you may challenge the ITA Certificate of Qualification. To challenge the Certificate, you must apply to the Industry Training Authority and in your application provide proof of 5,400 directly-related work hours as a roofer. This is usually provided in a signed declaration from either a current or previous employer. You will need to provide proof of achievement of required competencies.
If your application and work experience are approved you must write the Interprovincial Red Seal exam and achieve at least 70% on the exam to obtain the ITA Certificate of Qualification. Red Seal endorsement is recognized by employers as a standard of excellence. And indicates that the certificate holder has met the Interprovincial knowledge, skills and work experience standards established by this industry.
The Future of Roofing
Installed properly, a roof should be able to prevent water from leaking into buildings and damaging the interior. With different types of roofs come different techniques and skillsets, which is why some roofers choose to specialize in a particular kind, such as low- and steep-slope roofs, or even roofs with solar shingles.
With the increased popularity in both solar and vegetation features on roofs, roofers can easily adapt to modern trends to make a name for themselves in the already-niche industry.
Originally published January 2018.
Updated and republished Sept. 2023.