Roofers and Shinglers - What They Do

Roofers install, repair or replace flat roofs as well as shingles, shakes or other roofing tiles on sloped roofs. Shinglers install and replace shingles, tiles and similar coverings on sloped roofs. They are employed by roofing and general contractors, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:


  • Install, repair or replace built-up roofing systems using materials such as asphalt saturated felts and hot asphalt and gravel
  • Install, repair or replace single-ply roofing system using waterproof sheet materials such as modified plastics, elastomeric or other asphaltic compositions
  • Install, repair or replace shingles, shakes and other roofing tiles on sloped roofs of buildings
  • Install sheet metal flashings
  • Apply waterproof coatings to concrete or other masonry surfaces below or above ground level
  • Install and repair metal roofs using hand and power tools
  • Set up scaffolding to provide safe access to roofs
  • May estimate materials required and quote costs.


  • Install or replace asphalt shingles, wood shingles and shakes and masonry or baked clay roofing tiles on sloped roofs of buildings
  • Set up scaffolding to provide safe access to roofs.

Job titles

  • apprentice roofer
  • roofer
  • built-up roofer
  • flat roofer
  • single-ply roofer
  • shingler
  • asphalt roofer
  • residential steep roofer
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • For roofers, completion of a two- to three-year apprenticeship program or Over three years of work experience in the trade are usually required to be eligible for trade certification.
  • Roofing trade certification is compulsory in Quebec and available, but voluntary, in all other provinces and the territories.
  • Trade certification for residential steep roofers is available, but voluntary, in British Columbia.
  • Red Seal endorsement is also available to qualified roofers upon successful completion of the interprovincial Red Seal examination.
  • Shinglers require one to two years of on-the-job training.

Essential Skills


  • Read comments and instructions on work orders. (1)
  • Read short notes and messages. For example, roofers read notes from managers and supervisors to remind them about mandatory safety training courses. (1)
  • Read application and installation instructions on labels on roofing products and materials, such as roofing glues. (1)
  • Read memos and bulletins to understand changes to roofing products' specifications. For example, roofers read memos that describe how new adhesives will decrease the time it takes for roofing products to adhere to underlying insulation. (2)
  • Read articles in newsletters and magazines. For example, roofers read Roofing Canada magazines to learn more about new products and materials being used in the industry. (2)
  • Read flyers, pamphlets and information sheets containing pertinent occupational information. For example, read pamphlets from Workers' Compensation Boards to understand the importance of work place safety and how to implement safe working conditions. (2)
  • Review installation manuals and warranty agreements to ensure work is compliant and roofing materials are installed properly. They review the lengths and terms of warranties, deficiencies which may render warranties null and void and the recommended layouts and patterns of roofing materials. (3)
  • May read building and fire code regulations to get information about mandatory work procedures and legal requirements that affect roofing jobs. For example, roofers read regulations that detail fire resistance levels of roofing materials. (3)

Document use

  • Enter names, hours, dates and times on time sheets and schedules. Roofers may also enter new job assignment details on work schedules. (1)
  • Complete building permits that are required for construction, alterations and repairs. Roofers enter information about the premises and the job specifications such as dimensions, materials and job requirements to obtain municipal and provincial authorization to carry out work, and certify that security and safety standards are observed. (2)
  • Scan work orders to obtain job-specific information such as locations, customers' names, material requirements, installation instructions, price quotes and estimates. (2)
  • Identify locations and orientations of parts in assembly drawings of equipment such as bitumen pumps and piping. (2)
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System and product labels, Material Safety Data Sheets and manufacturers' specifications for roofing adhesives to obtain and use safe handling and application procedures. (3)
  • Locate building dimensions and other features in construction drawings. For example, they use dimensions printed on the drawings to calculate quantities of materials needed for roofing jobs and locate roof perforations such as skylights, drains, vents and fire safety hatches so that they can plan the layouts of roofing materials. (3)


  • Write a few lines on work order, insurance or Workers' Compensation forms to describe completed work, incidents and accidents. (1)
  • Write notes in logbooks and on contract forms to describe work that needs to be completed. For example, roofers may describe problems discovered on job sites and make recommendations for their correction. (2)


Money Math

  • May calculate reimbursements for materials and tools they purchase and submit cash or credit card receipts to their supervisors. (1)
  • May submit invoices for completed work, calculating hourly labour rates, material costs by roof area and taxes. (3)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • Schedule the arrival of roofing materials at work sites for times when the appropriate numbers of workers are present. (1)
  • Schedule jobs so that work can be completed before successive jobs are undertaken. Jobs may be rescheduled due to inclement weather and emergency repair calls. (2)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • Measure length, width and height of roof surfaces so they can order exact amounts of materials required to complete jobs. (2)
  • Ensure shingles are placed correctly by using parallel lines, and arrange ladders at safe angles to roofs. (2)
  • Measure temperatures and humidity of roofing materials and working environments to ensure conditions are appropriate for application of the materials. For example, roofers use digital thermometer guns to determine sources of extraordinary heat, like exhaust vents or other types of roof perforations beneath roof surfaces and use hygrometers to measure moisture in wood shingles and other materials. (2)
  • Calculate material requirements for roofing jobs by multiplying dimensions and scale measurements from drawings and subtracting areas of open spaces like large skylights. For example, they may determine the quantity of roofing materials they require for jobs by dividing the total area by the area one bundle of shingles will cover. (3)

Data Analysis Math

  • Analyze heat readings taken from finished roofs to ensure the readings fall within manufacturers' application specifications. (1)

Numerical Estimation

  • Estimate the weights of roofing tools and materials when lifting them onto roofs. They must accurately estimate the weights to ensure bundles do not damage or fall through the roofs. (2)
  • May estimate the costs of roofing jobs taking into consideration the sizes, types, pitches and areas of roofs, the numbers of layers of shingles and other factors such as expected weather conditions. This estimate has direct impacts on profitability. (3)

Oral communication

  • Instruct junior roofers, labourers and other workers. For example, roofers ask labourers to bring more supplies and to complete job tasks such as removing ballasts and shingles. (1)
  • Speak with suppliers and manufacturers to order more supplies, check on deliveries and inquire about the uses and applications of new products. (1)
  • Discuss the division of roofing tasks with their crews and consult co-workers about methods of tackling unusual and challenging jobs. (2)
  • Speak to building, fire and safety inspectors about roofing jobs, materials used and safety precautions taken. (2)
  • Meet their supervisors before assignments to discuss and review the jobs and safety requirements, the precautions they will employ and locations of closest medical supports. (3)
  • Speak with customers. For example, they may describe the types of materials to be applied and procedures for the disposal of old roofing materials and speak to customers who have complaints and want last minute changes to roofing jobs. They listen carefully to customers' concerns and may offer to change roofing methods and materials to eliminate customers' concerns and negotiate terms and conditions for additional work. Roofers working for larger companies may refer these matters to their supervisors. (3)


Problem Solving

  • Encounter work delays when supplies do not arrive on time and equipment breaks down. They contact suppliers and supervisors to register delays and request supplies are shipped and machinery fixed as soon as possible. (1)
  • Encounter customers who have complaints and want last minute changes to roofing jobs. Roofers listen carefully to customers' concerns. Self-employed roofers may offer to change roofing methods and materials to eliminate customers' concerns and negotiate terms and conditions for additional work. Roofers working for larger companies may refer these matters to their supervisors. (2)
  • Become aware of oversights and discrepancies on job sites. For example, roofers discover more rot in the under deckings of roofs than was first anticipated. They may inform supervisors of their findings and consult clients before the removal of rotten roof portions for rebuilding. (2)
  • Face inclement weather that makes it impossible to start or continue jobs. For example, roofers use waterproofing in anticipation of rain and moisture and take precautions during thunderstorms and high winds or stop work altogether. They may rig additional safety ropes and tarps to ensure safe working environments and to prevent damage to exposed roofing areas in anticipation of water and wind. (2)
  • Notice that construction refuse bins for the removal of old roofing materials areas are blocking vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Roofers locate building managers and ask if bins can be moved so they won't impede traffic. Roofers may then organize roofing crews to help move the bins immediately. (2)
  • May accidentally cause damage to clients' homes or businesses when completing roofing jobs. For example, a roofer attempting to remove ice build-up with an axe during an emergency snow and ice removal job accidentally tears off a section of eaves trough. The roofer determines the extent of damage, contacts a supervisor, reports the damage to the customer and responds to the customer's concerns to maintain a good working relationship. (3)

Decision Making

  • Decide what tools and gear are required for different roofing jobs. For example, roofers may decide to bring full safety harnesses, helmets and extended lengths of ropes when working on high, heavily sloped roofs. (1)
  • Decide when it is necessary to call for supervisory assistance. For example, roofers may decide to contact supervisors when clients object to colours of shingles being applied by the roofing crew and want them to stop working. (2)
  • Decide when to start and stop work in bad weather. For example, roofers may decide to stop work because impending wet weather will not hold off long enough to complete roofing jobs and will adversely affect safe working conditions. (2)
  • Decide if there are sufficient supplies and number of roofers to complete projects to the quality expected and within given deadlines. For example, they may decide to call in additional labourers in order to complete roofing jobs within deadlines. (2)

Critical Thinking

  • Evaluate the benefits of using new roofing tools, products and application processes. For example, roofers may assess the pros and cons of switching from hammers to pneumatic nailers for certain roofing jobs by examining the size of the roof, the workers available to complete the work, the ability to safely move pneumatic equipment and the amount of time available to complete the job. (2)
  • Assess skills of other workers to determine the allotment of work to junior roofers. For example, roofers evaluate the speed, quality and experience of co-workers when determining who will complete complicated portions of roofing that have vents and air conditioning units. (2)
  • Judge the quality of finished roofing jobs by observing that parallel shingle keys form straight lines across roof surfaces, cut-offs at gable ends are the same at bottom and top, and there are no waves in roofs. They test various areas to make sure roofing materials have been sealed and have adhered properly. (2)
  • Evaluate the safety of work areas. For example, roofers consider their starting points, direction of shingles, locations of open flames and liquid petroleum tanks, and potential tripping hazards like hammers, crowbars and air-powered staplers to coordinate the safe use and transportation of shingle bundles, containers of roofing tar and other adhesives while completing jobs. If they fail to adequately assess safety hazards, workers' injuries or deaths can occur. (3)

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Roofers complete similar tasks from day to day to install, repair or replace flat roofs and shingles. The environment in which they work may vary greatly from small, low, flat roofs to large, high, sloped roofs on both residential and commercial buildings. Their tasks are most often prioritized by supervisors to achieve maximum productivity, efficiency and safety but roofers may consider past projects, timelines and physical roofing structures when determining how to approach new roofing jobs. Although their work plans are rarely disrupted except for environmental conditions like rain and snow, roofers must integrate their assigned tasks to ensure they work safely within a team. (2)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Experienced members of roofing crews may take the lead in organizing work on the roofs. Roofing work is assigned by seniority, skills and aptitude for specific jobs, although supervisors and experienced roofers often divide tasks for junior roofers. (2)

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember safe uses of tools and equipment and safety requirements while working on job sites.
  • Recall daily work instructions.
  • Remember tools and materials successfully used in previous application and repair jobs.

Finding Information

  • Refer to catalogues, manuals, brochures, product information sheets and labels for application instructions. (1)
  • May look up new product information and access companies' web sites on the Internet. (2)
  • Seek information from supervisors and inspectors about work schedules, status of material shipments and arrivals as well as job specifications and requirements. (2)
  • Read safety forms, brochures and bulletins such as those from Workers' Compensation Boards to identify general and site-specific safety requirements such as the wearing of safety harnesses on job sites. (2)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Most roofers work collaboratively on teams to complete roofing projects. They organize themselves informally by seniority and skill specialties. Many new roofers are paired with more experienced workers so that they can learn and advance their skills. (2)

Continuous Learning

Roofers need to learn continuously to keep abreast of new roofing products, application procedures and safety precautions and devices. Most roofing skills are learned on the job from skilled tradespeople. Safety courses such as Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, provincial construction safety associations courses and proper handling of propane and safety harness operations are usually given before the start of projects by employers. There are other safety-related courses provided by organizations such as Workers' Compensation Boards. Suppliers may also provide limited training to roofers regarding their products. Roofers learn from manuals, newsletters and other information used on their own initiative. (1)