April 2, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About Getting Started in Roofing

New to roofing? Here are our tips and tricks for being successful and starting of strong in the industry.

Time to read:
4 minutes
Written by
Jennifer Cote

Every single roofer was a new roofer at some point. But that doesn't make starting any less nerve-wracking. We know that new roofers can feel intimidated, but you shouldn't be! Getting started on the right foot can go a long way to ensuring you have a long and successful career in roofing. And we want to help ensure that you do! 

In this guide, we’re covering what you need to know as a newbie in roofing, including:

  • Common questions new roofers may have
  • What tools you need to get started
  • Pay standards and expectations
  • 5 tips to help you hit the ground running

Get to know local rules and regulations

The first thing you need to know about getting into roofing is that getting started, the rules and regulations, and job requirements differ in each state and country. Canada and the USA even have different rules about being a roofer. 

Some examples of rules and regulations you’ll need to learn about and follow are:

Permits:

  • Types of permits required for different types of roofing work (e.g., repairs, replacements, installations), permit fees, application processes, and documentation needed.

Building Codes:

  • Includes the International Building Code (IBC), International Residential Code (IRC), or specific state or local codes.
  • Standards for fire resistance, wind resistance, and structural integrity of roofing systems.

Environmental Regulations:

  • Compliance with environmental regulations for waste disposal, and pollution prevention, and restrictions on the use of certain roofing materials, such as asbestos-containing materials or hazardous chemicals.

Insurance and Liability:

  • Requirements for roofing contractors to carry liability insurance and workers' compensation coverage, and required minimums needed for your area

Safety Standards:

  • Adherence to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, working at heights, WHMIS, etc, as well as industry best practices for workplace safety, including training requirements for employees.

Local Ordinances:

  • Additional regulations, restrictions, or guidelines imposed by city or county governments like zoning requirements, historic preservation regulations, or aesthetic considerations that may impact roofing projects in specific areas.

How do you get started in roofing?

A huge percentage of roofers get started because the career runs in their family. Their father, uncle, brother, etc worked in roofing or ran a company and get them working early.

But that isn’t always the case.

Ever since COVID and the concern about job stability, so-called “recession-proof” jobs in construction and trades have become more popular. Roofing pays well, and people will always need roofs. 

It’s predicted that the roofing industry will grow 5% over the next 10 years, to the industry is ripe in opportunity.

If you want to get started in roofing, we recommend reaching out to a roofer in your life and see if they can help get you on a roof for the season. If you don’t know a roofer and are looking to get into the industry without that connection, reach out to roofing companies in your area. 

One of the biggest challenges that roofing companies are facing right now is labor: reliable installers who will show up to every job on time. If you’re serious about getting into roofing, then displaying that reliability and genuine interest can go a long way.

Do roofers need formal training?

You can find apprenticeships or mentors who are willing to train new roofers more formally, but typically, roofers do not need any formal education. 

Some specific types of roof materials like solar may require additional training. 

Having training or completing education can help your application stand out, though, so it won’t hurt your chances. 

How much do you make as a roofer?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a roofing contractor's median income in 2022 hour is $23.04, which translates to $47,920 in a year. However, top earners can earn more than $45 an hour. You’ll earn even more if you run a roofing business.

You can learn more about income for roofers here. 

The tools of success

All new roofers will need to get their own gear for the first day on the job. Your company or mentor should be able to give you a list, but  a few things you’ll definitely want to get are:

  • Safety shoes/boots
  • Tool pouch
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Chalk line
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil (or a bunch of them because you’ll probably lose a few)
  • Knee pads (if you're smart)

You’ll also want a 5 point harness for safety. 

If you have questions, reach out to your company before your first day to confirm what you should bring.

Most companies will provide you with other tools of the trade like ladders, hammers, nail gun, etc. 

5 tips for getting started in roofing

 Here’s our top 5 tips for anyone new to the industry to make sure you start off on the right foot.

1. Be a knowledge sponge

If you can, take time before your first day to learn the basics of a roof. Ridges, valleys, vents, peaks, pitch… our glossary of roofing terms can help you out. 

Research different roofing materials, installation techniques, safety protocols, and local building codes so you already have this foundation when you get on the job.

Ask plenty of questions, but — more importantly — listen to what the roofers around you say. Absorb their knowledge and learn from their experiences. 

2. Don’t be afraid to start small

Just like the knowledge side of roofing, your skills need to start at the beginning. Don’t take it personally if you’re given grunt work or smaller tasks in your first few weeks. Use those tasks to highlight your work ethic, ability to problem solve, and to learn quickly. 

3. Don’t underestimate the importance of trust

Both of these first 2 points lead to the third: Build trust. Roofing is a relationship-based industry. Being hired season after season, and growing a reputation as a quality roofer comes down to the relationships you build. Trust needs to be at the center of that.

As a newbie on the roof, trust can be earned by showing up on time, completing tasks without complaint, listening to your mentors, asking questions when you don’t know something, and showing up prepared each day. 

4. Work slow

Moving fast isn’t the way to impress your new colleagues. Move too fast as a new worker, and you’re more likely to make a mistake. Remember what we said about trust? That’s a surefire way to ruin it.

It’s much better to work a little slower, but to do the job right. High quality work is what sells roofs. Build your skills right, and slow, so when you do get faster, you’re doing it with the right craftsmanship to back you up. 

5. Network

Like we said, relationships are everything in roofing. Roofing is a huge mom-and-pop business industry, so relationship building can be the key to opening doors. 

Also, referrals are huge lead drivers for roofing. People buy roofs, yes, but with so much competition, it’s the relationship that really sells. Networking is a great way to practice your social skills. 

Get to know your coworkers, bosses and suppliers. But also, connect with homeowners, real estate agents, trade associations, and others more on the edge of the industry. 

Roofing events like RISE are a great place to meet other roofers, grow your network, and learn new skills. 

Working in roofing: Tips for new roofers

Overall, roofing is a great job to be in. You work outside, help protect people's homes, and are providing a service. Plus, with many companies being family owned and operated, you’re helping to build a legacy outside of traditional corporate greed. 

We hope this guide helps you feel confidence getting started in the industry. For more information about roofing, check out these resources: 

Architectural vs 3-tab shingles

Roof pitch calculators

Roofing square definition

Tips for selling roofs door-to-door  

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