Whether they are working on a low-slope roof or a steep-slope roof, whether they find themselves atop a new commercial office building or a small 18th-century town house, roofers have much the same task: ensuring that a building has a solid top layer that will prevent rain, snow and ice from leaking into a building. Good roofing work is essential to any commercial or residential project, protecting a building's structure and contents for years to come.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2006 the median hourly earnings of wage and salary roofers was £10.0. The highest-paid 10 per cent of this group earned more than £17.4 per hour, while the lowest-paid 10 per cent earned less than £6.30. Another group, roofers working as contractors, had slightly higher median hourly wages: £10.10.
Factors Affecting Wages
Many factors affect roofers' hourly wages. One factor is experience: apprentices earn, on average, 40 to 50 per cent of what their more seasoned counterparts make, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union membership also influences wages: union members tend to earn more. Periods of inclement weather can reduce earnings, since projects may be halted until the weather clears.
Employment within the roofing trade is expected to grow 14 per cent between 2006 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roofing jobs have relatively high turnover, since the work can be so dirty and exhausting. The roofing industry tends to ride out economic downturns fairly well, since much of the work consists of repair and replacement of pre-existing buildings' roofs.
Training and Qualifications
Most roofers learn the trade at work, sometimes through formal three-year apprenticeships, other times through informal mentoring by more experienced tradespeople. Roofers need to be physically strong--able to transport heavy materials--and have good balance. They should also be healthy, resilient to the stress caused by long hours spent on hot roofs. Finally, they should be comfortable with heights, since much of their work takes place far off the ground.
Different Types of Roofs
Some roofers specialise in either steep-slope roofs, which are most often found on houses, or low-slope roofs, most often found on commercial, industrial and apartment buildings. Steep-slope roofs are usually made with shingles, while low-slope roofs are most often built up using layers of roofing felt and bitumen. In recent years, roofers have begun creating "green roofs," in which dirt and plants are added atop a sealed roof surface.