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Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service


The Work

As a roofer, your work could range from re-slating the roof on a house, to restoring the lead sheets on an old building. You would mainly work on either flat or pitched (sloped) roofs using the following methods:

  • sloped roof - slating and tiling, using traditional or synthetic slates or roof tiles
  • flat roof fitting felt sheets or spreading a waterproof bitumen layer (known as built-up felt roofing).

Typical duties include:

  • removing or repairing broken tiles or slates
  • check that the roof timbers are sound
  • measuring and cutting materials to the correct size and shape
  • fitting roof materials - laying rows of tiles and slates or layers of felt
  • finishing off joints with mortar or synthetic cement to make them watertight.

You might also be trained in more specialist roofing techniques such as leadwork, which involves covering a roof using lead rolls (often seen on churches) and thatching, where you would use natural materials to cover a roof. See the profile for Thatcher for more details about this role.

You would usually work on jobs with other craftspeople, such as joiners and plumbers.

Hours and Environment

Your typical working week would be around 40 hours, but may be longer during the summer months. Overtime may be available.

You would work at heights, using ladders and scaffolding and safety equipment like a hard hat and knee-pads. The job is physically demanding and dirty, and you would be exposed to all weather conditions.

You would travel from site to site, and some jobs may require overnight stays away from home.

Skills and Interests

  • practical skills for using tools
  • the ability to understand building plans
  • good maths skills to work out areas, quantities and prices
  • a head for heights
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • a willingness to work flexibly
  • an awareness of health and safety
  • a good level of fitness.


Finding work as an entry-level roofing labourer is a common way into this career, as it will give you the on-site experience employers often ask for. Once you are working, your employer may be willing to give you further training in roofing techniques.

You may be able to get into this career by completing an Apprenticeship with a building or roofing company. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit

To get on to an apprenticeship, you may need GCSEs (grades A-C) in subjects like maths, English and design and technology. Equivalent qualifications like the BTEC Introductory Certificate or Diploma in Construction may also be accepted.

Alternatively, you could take a college course, such as the Intermediate and Advanced Construction Award (Roof Slating and Tiling), which would teach you some of the skills needed. However, employers may still ask for some site experience. Check with local colleges for course availability and entry requirements.

See the ConstructionSkills website for more information on construction careers and qualifications. The Know Your Place campaign aims to promote the construction trades as a career choice for women.


You could work towards one of several NVQs, approved by Construction Skills and City & Guilds, including:

  • Roofing Occupations levels 2 and 3 (options in tiling, slating, metallic roofing and thatching)
  • Mastic Asphalt levels 2 and 3
  • Cladding Occupations levels 2 and 3
  • Applied Waterproof Membranes Level 2
  • Maintenance Operations Level 2.

You could apply for membership of the Institute of Roofing (IOR) at a grade that matches your level of experience. The IOR membership scheme offers a programme of continuing professional development (CPD), which could improve your career prospects. To find out more, visit the IOR website.

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Many building contractors now insist that you have a CSCS card to work on their sites. The card is proof of your skills and competence. To get your card you must:

  • pass a health and safety assessment
  • have an NVQ or equivalent qualification.

If you are working without qualifications, you may be able to use On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT) or Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) to get your NVQ and card. Contact CSCS or SkillsDirect for further details.

Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme
The Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme aims to address skills shortages within the traditional crafts and built heritage sector by offering bursaries and organising work-based training placements for eligible applicants.

To find out more about the scheme, eligibility and what placements are available, visit the Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme website.


Typical employers include roofing companies, building contractors, roofing materials suppliers, local authorities and other public organisations.

With experience, you could become a site manager, technical salesperson or roofing technician, dealing with project planning and costing jobs. You could also set up your own roofing business.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading: (links open in new window)

bConstructive (directory of building companies)
Construction Jobs Network
Directgov (Jobseekers page)

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income

  • A roofing labourer or trainee can earn from 13,000 to 15,000 a year.
  • With an NVQ, this can rise to between 16,000 and 21,000.
  • Experienced roofers can earn up to 27,000 a year.

Overtime and shift allowances will increase wages, while self-employed roofers set their own rates.

Figures are intended as guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.


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