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Roofing operatives work on the protective layers of a building which separate the inside from the elements using a range of materials, methods and structures.


Average salaries are in the region of £12,000.00 to £35,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

Roofing operatives work on the protective layers of a building which separate the inside from the elements using a range of materials, methods and structures.

What they do

They work mostly outdoors, and at height so all roofers need to be happy to work in all weathers. There are a wide range of areas to specialise in, depending on the type of building being worked on and the amount of experience the roofer has, so other important skills are to be able to read plans and cut and shape raw materials.

As with all construction jobs, roofing operatives must be aware of health and safety rules and building regulations. This is because they work at height and with materials that could be dangerous if not handled properly.

Roof, sheeting and cladding operative

Working in construction as a roof, sheet and cladding operative involves making buildings waterproof by covering the roof (sheeting) and walls (cladding). The lightweight covering they use can be made from metal, plastic or fibre cement. The job involves:

  • using drawings and specifications to decide the type and amount of materials needed
  • knowing building regulations
  • hoisting and placing coverings
  • sealing the joints
  • installing insulation
  • fitting features such as roof lights

Roof slater and tiler

Roof slaters and tilers install and repair all the waterproof coverings for buildings by applying slates or tiles to a designed framework, such as the roof of a house. Skills for this role include:

  • Understanding drawings and specifications to know what materials to use
  • Fixing underlay, insulation and roof coverings in place
  • Repairing old or faulty roofing
  • Making sure any new covering is weatherproof

Roof slater and tiler (heritage specialist)

Heritage specialists can work on roofs ranging from Victorian terraced houses to ancient churches. Modern slaters and tilers are trained in using the handmade materials of earlier eras, including clay tiles and different types of natural stone or slate.

Many people get involved with heritage work after lots of experience and knowledge of the fundamental skills of modern roof slating and tiling. Others start their careers working with historic buildings and learn conservation aspects of roofing from the beginning.

Hard metal and cladding roofer

Hard metal roofers and cladders create decorative designs and functional metal items such as roofs and gutters. These skilled specialists work across the construction industry on heritage, commercial, industrial and housing projects. They put a knowledge of design theory to work through their practical skills in shaping and forming the metal.

Single-ply roofer

A single-ply roofer applies a waterproof layer of flexible synthetic material to a roof to keep the inside of the building dry – and make the outside more stylish. 

New buildings often use this type of roofing as it allows architects to create unusual shapes on roofs. It’s often used on buildings with big roof areas too, such as supermarkets.

This kind of roofing is often used over an insulating material and secured with ballast, mechanical fasteners or adhesive. The materials are lightweight and easy to use but single-ply roofers have a skilled job that requires specific training in using the products.

Single-ply roofers are in demand across the industry because of their specific skill set, they: 

  • Seal joints between sheets to make them watertight
  • Fit roof lights
  • Inspect roof problems
  • Find the best way to repair them
  • Install vapour barriers or layers of insulation
  • Work out the amount of materials and labour needed

Built-up felt roofer

Built-up felt roofers or reinforced bitumen membrane applicators bond layers of felt to a roof to form a watertight covering that will keep the interior of the building dry. Usually several layers are needed although this is not always the case.

Built-up felt roofers do many different things in their role, including:

  • Sealing joints between sheets to make them watertight
  • Applying alternate layers of materials on roofs
  • Pouring hot asphalt or tar to roof basesmay
  • Glazing top layers to make a smooth finish
  • Embedding gravel in the bitumen for rough surfaces
  • Installing vapour barriers and/or layers of insulation on the roof decks of flat roofs

Leading hand/chargehand

Chargehands (or leading hands) are in charge of a team of between two and five roof slaters and tilers. They are responsible for making sure the work their team does is good quality. He or she must keep in touch with the other people involved in the project.

People become chargehands after gaining experience and knowledge of the skills used in roof slating and tiling. 

Roofing surveyor

A roofing surveyor or technician has a vital role – making sure all roofs are built properly on a construction project. They're involved from start to finish and usually based in the office or factory. Their job includes:

  • Estimating costs and budgets
  • Planning schedules (and seeing they’re followed)
  • Drafting plans and details for craftspeople
  • Helping clients, architects, builders and surveyors in the construction of a roof structure

Roofing consultant

Roofing consultants are experts in everything to do with roofs and give advice to other construction workers. This is a senior career and a roofing consultant only takes on the role when he or she has gained significant experience in the roofing industry. A consultant must be impartial when it comes to roof design, roofing installation, contract procedure, installation methods, legal testimony and general roof management.  

Salary:

  • Newly trained roofing operatives can earn in the region of £12,000+
  • Trained with experience roofing operatives can earn in the region of £15,000 - £25,000
  • Senior/master crafts roofing operatives can earn in the region of £25,000 - £32,000

Salaries depend on location, employer, level of responsibility, and the amount of overtime worked.  Self-employed roofing operatives set their own pay rates.


 

Explore all the different construction industry jobs available with our Roles In Construction Animation

You can also take our Personality Quiz to find out which construction career is right for you.

Case Study

Frazer Rice is a roof sheeting and cladding operative with Granger Building Services.

What do you do?

I’m studying for a construction apprenticeship in roof sheeting and cladding at the National Construction College in Inchinnan. I’m currently working on the Glasgow velodrome.

What do you enjoy about your job?

What I like about my apprenticeship is working outside. I like when summer comes and you can work in the sun when it’s nice and warm. I also like being able to turn my hand to metalwork when I’m outside of work. It’s a good skill to have.

How did you get started?

I left school at 15. I finished my exams and couldn’t get a job, so I started working with my uncle. But it wasn’t full time so I kept applying for different jobs and then I saw an apprenticeship come up for the Commonwealth Apprenticeship Initiative. So I was on a site and I applied for Granger. I had the interview and got the job. I’m really enjoying it.

Proudest career moment?

It’s got to be working on the Glasgow velodrome because it’s such a big, high-profile job that’s always on the news. It’s good because I work next to Celtic Park as well. That’s my team and I get to see that every day!

Big ambition?

In 10 years I see myself still working in roofing, maybe with an international construction job somewhere like Australia as there’s better money in my trade abroad. After my apprenticeship I’m going to be doing my NVQ.


 

Ronnie Hitchner is a roofer and cladder with Hadfield Roofing and Cladding Ltd.

What do you do?

All types of industrial roofing and cladding including walls, membrane roofs and grass roofs.

How did you get started?

I used to work in a factory but didn’t like working there because I couldn’t see any future in it. I did some work with the owner of Hadfield Roofing and he could see I was a hard worker and offered me a job. I learnt a lot of my trade from John, the owner. He’s a really good mentor, he has years of experience and has taught me a lot. I’ve worked there for 16 years now.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love my job. I love coming to work, working outside and working in different places. Even if I don’t like the roofing project I’m working on at the time, I know I’ll be moving onto another project soon. In this job you are never doing the same thing – one month you might be laying a grass roof on a school, and the next you’ll be doing something totally different.

The project I’m on now is laying a new roof over an old one on a building at Immingham Dock, in North East Lincolnshire. I really like working on old buildings and bringing them up to date. I also like laying membrane roofs and walls.

I worked on a B&Q near where I live and every time I drive past it I can say I worked on that!

What skills do you need?

You need to be good at learning quickly. It also really helps to listen to the advice, guidance and instructions your colleagues are giving you. You also need to be a hard worker.

You need to look after your team-mates, especially when working at height, and be very aware of health and safety. I was working on a roof recently where we used a rope system to secure us for health and safety purposes. We really needed to rely on each other using the rope system properly to make sure we were all working safely.

Proudest career moment?

My company leaves me alone on projects knowing they will be done safely, to a high standard and on time. I’ve built up a good deal of trust and experience and can now mentor and train other people in my job.

I’m also proud of my construction qualifications and training, which include NVQ 2 and NVQ 3 in Roofing, Sheeting and Cladding, and specialist training in installing systems and erecting mobile access towers (PASMA). Also, obtaining my Gold Construction Skills Certification Scheme Cards (CSCS) and Construction Plant Certification Scheme (CPCS) Cards in Scissor, Boom and Telehandler, plus various training in installation of different systems.

Big ambition?

I’m happy at the moment with what I’m doing.

Any advice on how to get into construction?

Pick something you enjoy doing, don’t choose a career for the sake of it. Choose a job with variety so you don’t get bored. You work for most of your life so it’s important to make the right choice.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which of the many construction careers is right for you

Qualifications & Training

There are no formal requirements to hold qualifications for this career but it helps to have GCSEs, Welsh Baccalaureate, WJEC GCSE, BTECs or Standard Grades/Scottish Nationals. With on-the-job and off-the-job training, you would work towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) or National Vocational Qualification (NVQ in Cladding Occupations (Construction): Roof, Sheeting and Cladding at Levels 2 and 3 (SCQF levels 4 and 5). 

The Roofing Industry Alliance has a RIA Roof Training Prospectus with further guidance on qualification routes and training requirements.

Employers such as construction companies and construction agencies often look for people with some on-site experience. If you haven’t worked in construction before, you can start off as a roofing labourer. Your employer might then train you in roofing techniques. 

Many roofing operatives start out as apprentices with a roofing or building firm. To search for apprenticeship vacancies in your area, visit the Government's vacancy matching site, or in Wales, Careers Wales. In Scotland you can visit Skills Development Scotland or for further information about this occupation visit My World of Work.

Alternatively, you can do a college course to learn roofing skills, though employers will still want to see you’ve had experience on a site.

Head to the Careers Explorer A-Z for information on the whole range of jobs in the construction industry on offer

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. 

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 

Indeed

Total Jobs

The number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted

Career trends and forecasts

43,830 total people needed

According to the latest Construction Skills Network research, the UK construction industry will need an additional 43,830 roofers every year for the period 2017 - 2021. The highest demand for these construction jobs in the UK will be in the North West followed by South West, Yorkshire & Humber, East England, North East, Wales and South East.

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