How to become a roofer in the UK

If you are afraid of heights and want to work in construction, you may want to consider becoming a roofer.

Roofers install and repair roofs, from commercial and residential buildings to flat roofs and thatched cottages.

A guide to becoming a roofer in the UK

The route to a roof covering does not have to be complicated. Read our step-by-step guide for everything you need to do to get started.

First, what does a roofer do?

As you would expect, roofers work on top of buildings to install, renovate and repair roofs. You could specialize as a flat roofer, slate roofer, or even a reed roofer with the right training.

Depending on the job, daily activities may include:

  • waterproofing flat roofs

  • sloping roofs with tiles

  • placement of sub-floor and battens

  • rendering and sealing roof joints

  • install skylights

Other tasks may include checking the condition of rafters, installing insulation, measuring materials, and cutting roofing felt.

How much can you earn as a roofer?

Depending on their experience, roofers can earn between £ 17,000 and £ 35,000 per year. But this can be significantly more if you are self-employed and work as a contractor.

In fact, Simply Business research has found self-employed roofers to be the highest earning business in the UK, with a average turnover of £ 65,213.

At the peak of your career this could be a lot more, while specialist skills such as thatched roof can earn you between £ 500 and £ 600 a week.

Roofing qualifications and training

There is no set track to get a job as a roofer, and you don’t need a college degree. You must either have one college course, a study time or help build your skills on-the-job training.

City & Guilds offers a number of professional training courses for roofers, including:

You can also choose to specialize further with training in straw roofing or lead work, for instance. Or if you are interested in how the construction industry can adapt to environmental pressures, you may want to train in eco-roofing, such as learning how to install a green roof or solar panels.

Apprenticeships are a great way to get formal training and paid work experience at the same time. A rooftop internship can take up to two years to complete – check the government website for a list of these current apprenticeships in England.

What skills do you need?

In addition to knowledge of the construction industry, the skills required to be a roofer include:

  • attention to detail

  • physical health

  • confident working at height

  • numeracy

  • ability to understand technical plans

  • basic carpentry

  • ability to operate equipment

  • flexibility and teamwork

  • good communication

Roofer installing insulation

Stay on top of health and safety advice

Working as a roofer is risky. Not only do you work at height, you also need to know how to reduce and manage the risks of working with excessive dust, asbestos and machinery.

As a contractor, your employer provides the necessary PPE to carry out your work safely. You should also be familiar with the HSE health and safety guidelines for people who work on roofs.

Accreditation and industry organizations

You have a Certification scheme for construction skills membership card (or equivalent) to train and work on a construction site.

And if you want to get professional accreditation for your roofing skills, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) offers the RoofCERT National Roofing Accreditation – the only one of its kind in the UK.

Professional organizations in the construction sector:

  • CITB is the industry training body for the industry in England, Scotland and Wales

Register as a self-employed person

Once you have sufficient experience in the industry, you can choose to be self-employed and work as a contractor for a variety of clients. You can work on a construction site, a client’s business or a home.

If you follow this route, you must register as a self-employed person with HMRC.

You should also be aware of the Construction Industry Regulation and what that means for contractors or subcontractors when paying tax.

As an independent contractor, you can claim certain allowable business expenses when calculating your tax, such as materials you use for your job, replacement tools or vehicle usage costs.

Check out our guide on how to file a self-employed tax return when it comes to completing your self-assessment.

Think of roof coverage insurance

Consider roof coverage insurance when setting up your business as a roofer.

Some important covers to consider:

Organize your books

If you are self-employed, you must keep track of your income and expenses. For starters, filing your tax return on Jan. 31 will be much less of a headache (you’ll need to keep business records for at least five years after the tax year deadline). But for another, it means you can manage cash flow and plan ahead for the calmer winter months.

To make your administrative life a little easier, check out our round-up of the best billing apps for small businesses and download your own free budget calculator and self-employed guide.

Do you have any questions about becoming a roofer? Ask them in the comments below.

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