What is a Roofer?
Roofers prepare and apply protective coverings to flat and sloped roof surfaces in accordance with construction plans and specifications.
Most flat roofs can be covered by a variety of substances and systems such as:
- conventional roof system (hot applied asphalt);
- elastomeric roof membrane system (rubber-like properties);
- thermo plastic roof membrane system; and
- modified bitumen roof membrane system (asphalt and plastic).
On the flat roofs of commercial and industrial buildings under construction, roofers:
- put a layer of vapour/air barrier and/or a layer of insulation on the roof deck;
- spread hot bitumen (a tar-like substance) over and under layers of roofing felt (fabric soaked in bitumen), or apply single-ply membranes of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compounds to make the surface watertight; and
- install metal or membrane flashing (strips) to protect the edges of the roofing materials.
Most sloped residential roofs are covered with shingles made of asphalt, fibreglass, tile, slate, wood shakes or metal. Roofers working on sloped roofs:
- apply membranes, fibreglass or felt over parts of the surface before applying shingles;
- nail shingles in overlapping rows;
- cement or nail flashing over the joints around vent pipes or chimneys; and
- cover exposed nailheads with cement to prevent rust and water leakage.
Roofers may also:
- inspect problem roofs to determine the best procedures for repairing them;
- estimate materials required and quote costs;
- repair older roofs;
- waterproof roofs, basements, foundations, plaza decks or parkades;
- install green/vegetated roof components; and
- incorporate new future roofing technology (i.e. conventional and non-conventional solar roofing technology).
Roofers work outdoors on roofs of varying heights. When the weather is good and building activity is high, roofers may work considerable overtime.
There can be a risk of injury from falls and from working with hazardous, hot materials.
Skills & Abilities
The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy physical exercise, working with their hands, developing special skills and the security of steady employment.
To be successful in their trade, roofers need to be:
- in good physical condition;
- sure-footed and able to work at heights;
- strength, stamina and the use of proper lifting techniques to lift items in excess of 25 kilograms;
- partial to working outdoors; and
- able to get along well with co-workers.
The term of apprenticeship for a roofer is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1420 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training in each of the first three years, and a minimum of 1600 hours of on-the-job training in the fourth year.
- There are no specified entrance requirements for this trade.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Roofer trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer’s recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative at any Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the Prior Learning Assessment Online Application. For more information, see the Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).