How To Become a Commercial Roofer

Becoming a commercial roofer requires a combination of technical skills, physical stamina, and attention to safety. In this guide, we’ll walk through the steps necessary to pursue a career in this challenging yet rewarding field.

Understanding the Role

Commercial Roofing vs. Residential Roofing: Commercial roofers specialize in roofing for businesses, industrial buildings, and large-scale properties. This differs from residential roofing in terms of materials, installation techniques, and scale. Commercial roofs are often flat or have a low slope, requiring knowledge of different materials like single-ply systems, built-up roofing, and metal roofing.

Duties and Responsibilities: A commercial roofer’s responsibilities include inspecting and assessing roof damage, preparing estimates, installing new roofs, repairing or replacing old roofs, and ensuring adherence to safety standards. They must be proficient in using various tools and equipment, understand building codes, and be able to read and interpret blueprints.

Education and Training

High School Education: A high school diploma or GED is typically the basic educational requirement. Courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and shop can be beneficial.

Vocational Training: Many roofers receive formal training through vocational schools or community colleges. These programs often cover roofing basics, safety procedures, and hands-on training.

Apprenticeship Programs

Joining an apprenticeship program is one of the best ways to become a skilled commercial roofer. These programs, often offered by trade unions or roofing companies, combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Apprentices learn about different roofing materials, installation techniques, safety practices, and sometimes even basic carpentry skills.

Gaining Experience

Hands-on Experience: On-the-job training is crucial. Starting as a helper or laborer on a roofing crew can provide valuable experience. It allows aspiring roofers to learn from seasoned professionals and gain practical skills.

Specializations: In commercial roofing, there are opportunities to specialize in certain materials or techniques, such as solar panel installation or green roofing systems. Developing a specialty can enhance career prospects and earning potential.

Certification and Licensing

Voluntary Certification: Although not always required, obtaining certification from recognized bodies such as the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) can demonstrate a higher level of expertise and commitment to the trade.

State Licensing: Depending on the state, commercial roofers may need to be licensed. Licensing requirements typically include passing an exam and proving a certain level of experience or training to be competent on all types of commercial flat roofs. It’s important to check the specific requirements in your state or region.

Skills and Qualities

Physical Fitness: Commercial roofing is physically demanding. Roofers must be able to lift heavy materials, climb ladders, and work at heights. Good balance and physical strength are essential.

Attention to Detail: Precision is key in roofing. Misaligned materials or improperly sealed roofs can lead to significant damage. Roofers must be meticulous in their work.

Safety Consciousness: The job carries risks, particularly when working at heights. A professional roofer must always prioritize safety, following all relevant regulations and best practices.

Advancing Your Career

Continued Education: Staying updated with the latest roofing techniques and materials is important. Attending workshops, seminars, and continuing education courses can help roofers stay current.

Networking: Joining professional associations and attending industry events can provide networking opportunities and knowledge about the latest trends and technologies in roofing.

Business Skills: For those looking to start their own roofing business, skills in management, marketing, and finance are crucial. Many roofers eventually become contractors or business owners.


Becoming a commercial roofer is a journey that involves technical training, practical experience, and a commitment to learning and safety. It offers the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, and for those with the drive and dedication, it can lead to a successful and fulfilling career. Whether through apprenticeships, specialized training, or hands-on experience, the path to becoming a skilled commercial roofer is accessible to those ready to climb the ladder to success.

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