If you like working outdoors, with your hands, in a team environment, then you'll welcome the challenge of work as a roofer and waterproofer. Your days can mean hard work, often at heights, but you'll take great pride when you see the product of your skill and craftsmanship and that of your co-workers. Every roofing job is different. Every job is a new location. And this job is never boring.
Apprenticeship programs sponsored jointly by labor and management on the local union level supply employers with the highly skilled workers who apply the quality roofing and waterproofing systems that keep America's buildings dry. Apprentices learn their craft by training on the job under proper supervision and by studying technical subjects related to the roofing trade.
Once apprentices have learned the practical and technical aspects of the work, they graduate to journeyman status. Roofing apprenticeship programs generally run for three years.
You earn while you learn the trade. Union journeymen Roofers and Waterproofers earn wages and fringe benefits that are negotiated on their behalf by the union through collective bargaining with signatory contractors. Some apprenticeship programs partner with community colleges to offer college credit for apprenticeship classes.
Wages vary according to the geographic location of the local union. The average starting wage for 1st year apprentices is 40 - 50% of the Journeyman's wage rate plus fringe benefits. Your earnings are adjusted annually to reflect your advancing skills and increasing knowledge of the trade.
Union journeymen Roofers and Waterproofers work on a variety of types of buildings; protecting those facilities against water intrusion and ultimate damage to the structure and its contents. Roofing in the commercial and industrial sector is generally of the built-up type or the single-ply category. In built-up roofing, layers or piles of felt are set in hot bitumen over insulation boards to form a waterproof membrane. An aggregate may be imbedded in a final bitumen coat to protect the membrane from ultraviolet radiation of the sun and other environmental hazards.
Single-ply roofing encompasses all of the newer plastic, polyvinylchloride (PVC), rubber (EPDM) and other elasto-plastic type membranes that have their seams welded by solvent or hot air or glued with contact adhesive to form a monolithic waterproofing membrane. These systems may have a stone or rock or paver block ballast installed over them or they may be partially or totally adhered to the substrate. These systems are also installed over roof insulation boards.
A separate category of roofing is the modified bitumen system that may be applied with hot bitumen or torched-on with high intensity propane burners.
Another area of roofing is the residential type; although these applications can also be done in the commercial and industrial sector as well. They include composition shingles, slate, tile and metal rods.
Waterproofing is a specialty aspect of the roofing trade but is no less important than a roof in protecting a building against moisture intrusion. Waterproofing can be below grade, which is usually foundation work. It can also be done on plaza decks, parking garage floors and other sections of a building where water or moisture protection is crucial. Materials used in waterproofing are generally of the same type used in roofing, although there are many specialty application materials that may be specified for this type of work.
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