If you have a felony conviction, Roofing is one if the easiest fields to get a job. This is because most roofing companies are owner operated small businesses, and they ALMOST NEVER do Background Checks. In fact, most will not even ask you if you were convicted or have a record (more on this below).
What small roofing businesses care about is that you can do the job well, and ideally have a driver license. They also prefer that you don’t drink heavily and don’t do drugs – basically come to work sober and on time. Other than that, they will hire almost anyone! Many roofers will even pay cash, to avoid paying taxes and HIGH workers compensation premiums.
Unlike minimal wage jobs in retail or delivery, you can make $15-25 per hour as a roofer!
For many small companies the choice is – hire foreigners or Americans. They would prefer Americans, but they can pay foreigners less. Besides, roofers prefer that their workers communicate with customers easily. Especially if this is a foreman / project manager. For these positions, roofing contractors prefer native English speakers.
For basic grunt work – contractors mostly care about labor cost, and don’t much care if you speak proper English or have a conviction. So roofing and construction in general, is one of the easiest jobs for a felon to get!
How Much Money Can You Make?
Average pay in the roofing industry mostly depends on where you live, and how much the local going labor rate is. In general roofers make $12-20/hr. In coastal states, it’s more like $15-25/hr (more details here – scroll down to Labor Costs section).
If you join the Labor Union, you can start at more than $20 per hour, but then you must pay taxes, and union dues. However, if you stick with a Union roofing job, you can be making as much as $40+ per hour! However, getting into a Union job is very tricky, so for this guide, we will stick with NON-UNION jobs. I do however recommend that you also research Local union jobs.
Your pay as a roofer, depends mostly on how well you work and your skill level. If all you can do is “manual labor”, you will be stuck at $12-15 per hour for a long time. So i recommend that you learn how to install shingles, as well as other (more skilled) roofing tasks, such as installing Single Ply / Rubber roofs, and even sheet metal. Skilled roofers can easily find $20-25/hr jobs!
Roofing Sales Jobs
If you are good with people and sales, you may want to consider selling roofs (both commercial and residential). There is great money making potential there, because in addition to your salary, you can make very high commissions. The best thing is that you don’t need any special training! You can start working as a roofer, learn about the pros and cons of various products and roofing manufacturers, find out about people’s needs and problems related to roofing, and you can try your hand at sales!
Most small to mid size business owners will agree to let you try selling roofs for them (if they think you have what it takes), because it is very hard to find a reliable roofing salesman who is good at closing leads. You can make 10-20% commission off the sale price of the roof. SO if you sell a $10,000 roof, you will make at least $1,000 commission.
How To Find A Roofing Job
If you feel that you can handle roofing (it is hard work after all), just go to Google or open a local Yellow Pages book, and call EVERY roofing company in your area! Sooner or later you will find a job!
You should have a car: If you have a Car/Truck and a valid driver’s license (with a relatively clean driving record) you have a big advantage over other “job seekers” in this field. If not – either get a car/truck if you can, or you will have to find work and figure out transportation to and from jobs. Often girlfriends drive roofers to work!
Many small roofing businesses are in constant need of roofers/laborers. Most of them DO NOT have an official hiring process, or an HR manager – let alone an actual job application or even a receptionist!
All you need to do is come in and talk to the boss himself, let them know of any previous construction related experience, why you want the job, and convince them that you will work hard. Most bosses will give you the job, if they like you personally, because they can easily fire you if something goes sideways. So try your best, because a roofing job is just as easy to loose as it is to get, if you are careless, or are not working hard.
You probably want to avoid big contractors and/or commercial roofing companies. This is because they often do big projects / prevailing wage jobs (work for Local or Fed Government / Town) which require background checks, and often are unionized.
Do You Need Prior Roofing Or Construction Experience?
If you have worked on roofs before -great. This will definately make you a much more appealing candidate. However, lack of experience will NOT prevent you from getting an entry level job. Most small time businesses take on workers without any prior experience (you just need to be physically strong and able to work hard), and just train them on the job.
During the interview, tell the boss that you can work for FREE for 2-3 weeks to learn the trade, or offer a reduced salary (minimum wage for the 1st month).
If you have a friend who is a roofer, ask him to teach you a little. Maybe take you on the job with him. He can tell the boss that you will be helping out for free, just to learn.
To be a roofer, and to make it a long term career you need to have a PROPER ATTITUDE!
Not only you need to learn the skill – you should also strive to do high quality work. If you can fix and install roofs better than other roofers, without cutting corners, the company owner will most definitely promote you and raise your salary. Its very hard to find roofers who want to do a really good job, so you can be that guy and beat the competition. If you are able to stick with doing quality work, there is a very good chance for you to become a Foreman or a Manager. Depending on the size of the company and their volume of sales, these guys can easily make $60,000-85,000 per year.
My Personal Experience Hiring Felons For Roofing
I’ve been a roofer and later roofing contractor for 15+ years, and have worked with and hired felons on many occasions.
The first felon I worked with was this kid who was short on cash and tried to rob a bank. Long story short – he got out after 1 year and was hired by the company I worked for at the time, and was my helper.
Basically this kid really f-d up, made a mistake, got caught and was paying the dues. But he managed to get a job with my company. This guy wasn’t a pathological criminal … He just took a wrong turn.
He was the best worker out of the 4 helpers that the company provided for me and my brother (we were the roofers 🙂 ). Also this guy had an ankle monitor and had to be home by 5 pm every day, so his girl friend drove up to pick him up at 4 pm every day.
Hiring felons for my own roofing company
At one point I had 8 guys working for me – 2 crews of 4. One consisted of out-of-high-school “kids” with no college prospects. One of these guys had a juvie record, and (most likely) went to prison after ending employment at my company. Basically he was one of those guys who belonged in prison. He had no regard for law and order, was angry and aggressive, and committed small crimes for fun. In the end, he and his buddy stole a bunch of tools from us, and disappeared. Later, I heard he/they went to prison.
But the point is – when we hired him (and his buddy), we did not even consider doing a background check, and he was a decent roofer, while working for us.
Another guy working for us also ended up being in trouble with the law. Basically, his girl friend was a little crazy and called cops on him for no real reason. I doubt that there was any actual violence, but his green card was revoked and he was deported to Poland. So – not really a felon, but had a record …
Bottom line – I would hire felons again. I would look for someone who wants a fresh start in life, who shows respect, is not aggressive and works hard every day.
What you should take from this – It’s not hard to get to get a job as a a roofer, even if you have a felony. You just need to want to make a change and stop leading a criminal lifestyle (like the guy I talked about).
Starting Your Own Roofing Business
Finally, you can start your own company! It is actually not that hard to do, and if you have the right attitude (hard worker and are good at roofing) I would suggest this route, after you gain some experience.
You can make MUCH more working for yourself, versus being a laborer/shingler for someone else. I do recommend that you do work for someone else for at least 6 months, to learn the trade. Starting your own business takes time and some cash (to invest into business & for living costs). Since most felons lack much cash – you should have a steady job, save up, buy tools and a truck, and then you can go on your own.
PS – since most of you reading this have a smartphone – take (good) pictures of the roofs that you do – you can later use them for references!
If this guide was helpful or you have personal experience that you would like to share – let us know in the comments or through our contact form.
Cheers – Leo.