The complete guide to roofing
As part of National Apprentice Week 2022, we are launching a focus on some of the varied sectors within the construction industry – and today it’s roofing!
Roofing is not only a vital part of the construction industry – it’s an essential component of all our lives.
What is roofing?
Simply put, roofing is the construction and maintenance of roofs.
Roofs take quite a beating. Fully faced toward the sky, they catch the brunt of weather’s worst. They have to be able to take a licking and keep from leaking. They must be weathertight, secure, durable, attractive, and elastic enough to withstand severe temperature shifts without cracking.
A contemporary roof, regardless of shape or surface material, consists of a variety of components that include wood framing, sheathing, underlayment, flashing, gutters, and, of course, the shingles or other finished surface.
For more information on the different parts of a roof and how they’re constructed, check out our article here.
We all know how important looking after the environment is. The construction and maintenance of buildings and structures accounts for over a third of carbon emissions – but the construction industry is rapidly evolving to introduce more sustainable ways of living. If you join construction, you could form a vital part of building a better world. And in many ways, the roofing sector is at the forefront of this.
Here’s a few of the sustainable roofing methods:
A green roof is a layer of vegetation planted over a waterproofing system that is installed on top of a flat or slightly–sloped roof. Green roofs are also known as vegetative or eco–roofs.
They help provide a wide range of habitats for wildlife, and are perfect for helping cities to adapt to and reduce the effects of climate change – Singapore is a great example of green roofs in action.
A cool roof is designed to reflect more sunlight than a conventional roof, absorbing less solar energy. This lowers the temperature of the building just as wearing light-coloured clothing keeps you cool on a sunny day.
This can save energy and money in buildings with air conditioning, or improve comfort and safety in buildings without air conditioning, by reducing heat flow from the roof into the occupied space.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)
BIPVs are modern materials that replace conventional materials as part of a building’s roof and also incorporate solar panels, which are used to generate electricity or heat.
They consume less energy than traditional tiles, while the integrated solar panels can be used to generate carbon-neutral energy.
Is roofing for me?
Putting together these structures is a highly skilled – and well-paid – profession. And it could be perfect for you.
If you are the sort of person who loves to get involved in hands on work and is genuinely interested when you see new housing estates and other construction projects going on in your area, then why not transform this interest into a living by learning a trade in roofing?
As a roofer, you could be called upon to assemble scaffolding, determine which materials should be used for that next roof installation or repair job, and carry out roof inspections. A career in roofing is incredibly varied.
But not just that, roofers tend to enjoy high job security. Think about it: a solid, protective roof isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have – for all of us. Therefore, there will always be demand for people who know how to build roofs to a high standard – and replace or repair them if issues arise.
If you like the sound of a no two days being the same, earning a good wage and learning valuable life skills as you progress through your career – keep reading to discover how an apprenticeship in roofing could be the perfect start to your career.
An apprenticeship is a job with training and is for anyone aged 16 and over. During an apprenticeship, you’ll work with experienced staff and gain qualifications by doing practical and academic learning. Your employer will give you tasks to perform, and a training provider will equip you with the theoretical skills to perform those tasks.
As an apprentice, you’ll earn while you learn, so you can gain an industry-specific qualification without needing a student loan. You’ll be employed full-time (usually between 30-40 hours per week), which includes time spent with your training provider. Apprentices receive a wage and, depending on individual circumstances, may be entitled to some benefits, too.
There are many different opportunities to become an apprentice in roofing – some of the roles available include:
- Apprentice Roofing Operative
- Apprentice Roofer
- Business Support Apprentice
- Apprentice Project Controls Technician
- Apprentice Estimator
- Apprentice Site Supervisor
- Apprentice Assistant Site Manager
- Apprentice Project Manager.
Let’s take a look at one of the more common apprentice routes in roofing: the Level 2 Roofer apprenticeship. This award typically takes 18 – 24 months to complete, and is equivalent to 5 GCSE passes at grades 9 – 4 (A* - C).
You will usually need 2 – 3 GCSE passes to start this apprenticeship.
As part of this apprenticeship, you will have the following choice of pathways available to you:
- Roof Tiler and Roof Slater - If you want to become a roofer in this field, you will work on various types of buildings, tiling and slating roofs and also using other materials for covering. Buildings will be new or existing.
- Waterproof Membranes Installer - A roofing apprenticeship where you specialise in this area will see you installing waterproofing systems to new and existing buildings. As a trainee roofer in this area, you will also be doing roofing jobs where you are installing membranes onto flat roofs to ensure they are waterproof.
- Roof Sheeter and Cladder - roofing apprenticeship jobs where you specialise in being a roof sheeter and cladder will see you working on commercial premises such as warehouses and supermarkets. You will install metal sheet roof coverings and also use other materials to make new and existing buildings waterproof.
How to find a roofing apprenticeship
The best place to find a roofing apprenticeship is on Talentview Construction.
Talentview is your launchpad for an amazing career in construction, specifically designed for those who are just starting out. It features apprenticeship opportunities from across the UK, and allows you to:
- Find work experience, traineeships, apprenticeships and your first role in construction
- Research great employers and what they can offer you
- Build your profile so local employers can spot you more easily
- Sign up to alerts for jobs and training opportunities where you want to train or work.
Check out the video below for more information on how the platform works.
NFRC Careers Service
To help kickstart your career in roofing, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) have launched their brand new careers service.
The free to use service aims to support current and future roofing employees throughout their careers cycle – offering an evolving resource of information, guidance and signposting for young people, their parents, employers and career changers.
The young person’s service provides information on all of the various routes into the sector, roofing specialisms, types of work carried out by roofers, how to find a job in the sector and much more. It can help walk you through the recruitment journey from start to finish.
To find out what being a roofing apprentice is really like, check out the case studies of:
- Luke, roofing apprentice
- Jack, trailblazer waterproof membrane installer apprentice
- Melissa, who started as an admin apprentice and is now a SHEQ manager
Keeping your parents or guardians on board with your future career plans is so important. So they can learn all about what an apprenticeship and career in roofing can offer, the service offers a handy parent’s guide which tells them everything they’ll need to know.
If you want to take a look at competitive roofing in action, check out the Great British Slate Off. Similar to our SkillBuild competition, it pits the very best student slaters against each other from colleges across the UK to compete head-to-head for over six hours.
For more information about the roofing sector, check out the following job roles on Go Construct:
- Lead working roofer
- Liquid waterproofing roofer
- Mastic asphalter
- Construction maintenance operative