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.

The Role

Roof, sheeting and cladding operative

  • Making buildings waterproof by covering the roof (sheeting) and walls (cladding).
  • 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

  • Installing and repairing all the waterproof coverings
  • Applying slates or tiles to a designed framework, such as the roof of a house
  • 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)

  • Working on roofs ranging from Victorian terraced houses to ancient churches
  • Using the handmade materials of earlier eras, including clay tiles and different types of natural stone or slate
  • Working with historic buildings and learn conservation aspects of roofing from the beginning

Hard metal and cladding roofer

  • Creating decorative designs and functional metal items such as roofs and gutters
  • Working across the construction industry on heritage, commercial, industrial and housing projects
  • Putting a knowledge of design theory to work through their practical skills in shaping and forming the metal

Single-ply roofer

  • Applying a waterproof layer of flexible synthetic material to a roof to keep the inside of the building dry – and make the outside more stylish
  • Creating unusual shapes on roofs
  • Using an insulating material secured with ballast, mechanical fasteners or adhesive
  • 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

  • Bonding layers of felt to a roof to form a watertight covering that will keep the interior of the building dry
  • 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

  • In charge of a team of between two and five roof slaters and tilers
  • Making sure the work their team does is good quality
  • People become chargehands after gaining experience and knowledge of the skills used in roof slating and tiling

Roofing surveyor

  • Making sure all roofs are built properly on a construction project
  • Involved from start to finish and usually based in the office or factory
  • 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

  • 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
  • Newly trained roofing operatives can earn in the region of £17,000+
  • Trained with experience roofing operatives can earn in the region of £17,000 - £25,000
  • Senior/master crafts roofing operatives can earn in the region of £25,000 - £35,000
Salaries depend on location, employer, level of responsibility, and the amount of overtime worked.  Self-employed roofing operatives set their own pay rates.
Qualifications & Training
There are no formal entry requirements for this career but it helps to have GCSEs, Welsh Baccalaureate 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. 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.