The construction industry best kept secret!

The construction industry best kept secret!


By Thomas Watt
Monster Contributing Writer

Want to know what the construction industries best kept secret is?
No, it’s not condo developer, nor high stakes contractor, nor estimator, no.
The number one job in the construction industry, that no one knows about, is: Roofer.

We’ve heard about carpenters, about plumbers, electricians, their awesome salaries and the benefits of being a renovator in today’s housing market, but roofer always seems to run under the radar.
But consider this simple fact: a roof is often the biggest or second biggest single project a homeowner will invest in terms of cost and importance for their house, ranging in the area of $8,000, to $15,000 dollars, on average.
And if you take into consideration commercial roofing, or specialized artisanal work, like copper and slate, sometimes single contracts can run into the millions.
So with all this potential, why do so few people know about this field?
For one thing roofing suffers a bit from its brand image as a difficult and dangerous trade.
But is this just a myth?

Well, for every rose there are thorns to be sure:
Long hours, hot conditions, high locations, are all factors that contribute in people shying away from this career. Then there is the issue of job security. Roofing is generally a seasonal affair.  There is also the phenomenon of residential fly by night roofing outfits that hire off online and offer their labourers ten dollars an hour and no safety harness to speak of.  

The good news is that reputable companies do exist and potential for growth in this industry is huge.  When vetting companies, make sure they have a registered construction licence and inquire about their reputation. 
In roofing, business is booming, always.

Roofing is a great trade in part because business is always booming. Roofs need to be replaced every 15 to 25 years. Slate and metal roofs last longer but are more expensive. The hard truth is that due to their exposure to the forces of nature,  it’s a pretty good bet that somewhere, at any given time, there is a roof that needs repair or to be replaced completely.
So how do you get started?

Well, the training required in roofing is like other trades, there are national and regional trade schools which teach roofing skills and give the required safety courses.  You can do a quick Google search and find your municipal or regional body which governs the pedagogy on training roofers. Flat roofers, the ones who use tar and gravel as well as the membrane sheets, need to be trained specially in fire safety because they use blow torches with high levels of propane and can set buildings on fire if not careful.  Like in any industry there are standards, and associations, dedicated to professionalism and excellence like the master roofing association.
Roofing is a niche trade

One thing to remember is that roofing is a niche trade:  it is highly technical which belies the roughness of its appearance.  For instance, a good roofer has to be a good sleuth when looking for potential leaks and has to have the precision of a fine craftsman when completing his job because, at the end of the day, a roof is the only barrier between what the sky can produce in inclement weather above and your valuables down below.  To underline the gravity of professionalism in this instance, I heard a story of one roofer who did a wrong patch job on a routine leak and it rained over the weekend causing the client $50,000 in damages to his personal effects below the leak point. Bottom line: roofs are like boats, they need to be sealed airtight.
Show me the money

Salaries start at $40,000 a year and go up to $60,000, with foreman pulling in a bit more than this and a project manager or roofing estimator making well into the six figures.  Bosses of roofing companies can be multi-millionaires, I call them the blue collars with a gold tip.  And you could be one too, if you decide to take the plunge, learn the ropes, and become a roofer.
One last thing

As I have pointed out elsewhere concerning the trades.  They are a great investment and alternative to the 9 to 5 rat race of the office job and corporate environment we know all too well.  And If you like physical work, getting buff and tanned without having to buy a gym membership or go on an expensive vacation, then roofing might be just right for you.  It’s not, however, by any means an easy job.  It’s demanding on many levels and takes a certain kind of person.  With that said though, because of the highly rarefied  ‘hands on’ knowledge required for the job, it’s intrinsic worth is very stable when looking at general market trends, and therefore I would say now is better than ever to get in on one of the construction industries best kept secrets.
See you on the incline!