Roofers

Roofers repair and install the roofs of buildings using a variety of materials, including shingles, asphalt, and metal.

Roofers typically do the following:

  • Inspect problem roofs to determine the best way to repair them
  • Measure roof to calculate the quantities of materials needed
  • Replace damaged or rotting joists or plywood
  • Install vapor barriers or layers of insulation
  • Install shingles, asphalt, metal, or other materials to make the roof watertight
  • Align roofing materials with edges of the roof
  • Cut roofing materials to fit angles formed by walls, vents, or intersecting roof surfaces
  • Cover exposed nail or screw heads with roofing cement or caulk to prevent leakage

Properly installed roofs keep water from leaking into buildings and damaging the interior, equipment, or furnishings.

There are two basic types of roofs, low-slope and steep-slope:

  • Low-slope: About two-thirds of all roofs are low-slope. Most commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings have low-slope roofs. Low-slope roofs rise 4 inches or less per horizontal foot and are installed in layers.

    For low-slope roofs, roofers typically use several layers of roofing materials or felt membranes stuck together with hot bitumen (a tar-like substance). They glaze the top layer to make a smooth surface or embed gravel in the hot bitumen to make a rough surface.

    An increasing number of low-slope roofs are covered with a single-ply membrane of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compounds.
  • Steep-slope: Most of the remaining roofs are steep-slope. Most single-family houses have steep-slope roofs. Steep-slope roofs rise more than 4 inches per horizontal foot.

    For steep-slope roofs, roofers typically use asphalt shingles, which often cost less than other coverings. On steep-slope roofs, some roofers also install tile, solar shingles, fiberglass shingles, metal shingles, or shakes (rough wooden shingles).

    To apply shingles, roofers first lay, cut, and tack 3-foot strips of roofing over the entire roof. Then, starting from the bottom edge, they nail overlapping rows of shingles to the roof.

A small but increasing number of buildings now have “green” roofs that incorporate landscape roofing systems. A landscape roofing system typically begins with a single or multiple waterproof layers. After that layer is proven to be leak free, roofers put a root barrier over it, and, finally, layers of soil, in which vegetation is planted. Roofers must ensure that the roof is watertight and can endure the weight and water needs of the plants.


Lawyers

Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses, or government agencies on legal issues or disputes. 

Lawyers typically do the following:

  • Advise and represent clients in courts, before government agencies, or in private legal matters
  • Communicate with their clients and others
  • Conduct research and analysis of legal problems
  • Interpret laws, rulings, and regulations for individuals and businesses
  • Present facts in writing or verbally to their clients or others and argue on their behalf
  • Prepare and file legal documents, such as lawsuits, appeals, wills, contracts, and deeds

Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors.

As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client.

As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients about their legal rights and obligations and suggest courses of action in business and personal matters. All attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions and apply the laws to the specific circumstances that their clients face. 

To prepare for cases more efficiently, lawyers increasingly use the Internet, online legal databases, and virtual law libraries. Lawyers also often oversee the work of support staff, such as paralegals and legal assistants. For more information about legal support staff, see the profile on paralegals and legal assistants.

Lawyers may have different titles and different duties, depending on where they work.

Criminal law attorneys are also known as prosecutors or defense attorneys. Prosecutors work for the government to file a lawsuit, or charge, against an individual or corporation accused of violating the law.

Defense attorneys work for either individuals or the government (as public defenders) to represent, or defend, the accused.

Government counsels commonly work in government agencies. They write and interpret laws and regulations and set up procedures to enforce them. Government counsels also write legal reviews on agencies' decisions. They argue civil and criminal cases on behalf of the government.

Corporate counsels, also called in-house counsels, are lawyers who work for corporations. They advise a corporation's executives about legal issues related to the corporation's business activities. These issues might involve patents, government regulations, contracts with other companies, property interests, taxes, or collective-bargaining agreements with unions.

Legal aid lawyers work for private, nonprofit organizations for disadvantaged people. They generally handle civil cases, such as those about leases, job discrimination, and wage disputes, rather than criminal cases.

Lawyers often specialize in a particular area. The following are some examples of types of lawyers:

Environmental lawyers deal with issues and regulations that are related to the environment. They might represent advocacy groups, waste disposal companies, or government agencies to make sure they comply with the relevant laws.

Tax lawyers handle a variety of tax-related issues for individuals and corporations. Tax lawyers may help clients navigate complex tax regulations so that they pay the appropriate tax on income, profits, property, and so on. For example, they might advise a corporation on how much tax it needs to pay from profits made in different states to comply with the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) rules.

Intellectual property lawyers deal with the laws related to inventions, patents, trademarks, and creative works such as music, books, and movies. An intellectual property lawyer might advise a client about whether it is okay to use published material in the client's forthcoming book.

Family lawyers handle a variety of legal issues that pertain to the family. They may advise clients regarding divorce, child custody, and adoption proceedings.

Securities lawyers work on legal issues arising from the buying and sell of stocks, ensuring that all disclosure requirements are met. They may advise corporations that are interested in listing in the stock exchange through an initial public offering (IPO) or buying shares in another corporation.

Litigation lawyers handle all lawsuits and disputes between parties. These could be contract disputes, personal injury disputes, or real estate and property disputes. Litigation lawyers may specialize in a certain area, such as personal injury law, or may be a general lawyer for all types of disputes and lawsuits.

Some attorneys become teachers in law schools. For more information on law school professors, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.


Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from early development to completion.

Construction managers typically do the following:

  • Prepare and negotiate cost estimates, budgets, and work timetables
  • Select appropriate construction methods and strategies
  • Interpret and explain contracts and technical information to workers and other professionals
  • Report on work progress and budget matters to clients
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and other construction and building specialists
  • Instruct and supervise construction personnel and activities onsite
  • Respond to work delays and other problems and emergencies
  • Select, hire, and instruct laborers and subcontractors  
  • Comply with legal requirements, building and safety codes, and other regulations

Construction managers, often called general contractors or project managers, coordinate and supervise a wide variety of projects, including the building of all types of residential, commercial, and industrial structures, roads, bridges, powerplants, schools, and hospitals. They oversee specialized contractors and other personnel. Construction managers schedule and coordinate all design and construction processes to ensure a productive and safe work environment. They also make sure jobs are completed on time and on budget with the right amount of tools, equipment, and materials. Many managers also are responsible for obtaining necessary permits and licenses. They are often responsible for multiple projects at a time.

Construction managers work closely with other building specialists, such as architects, engineers, and a variety of trade workers, such as stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters. Projects may require specialists in everything from structural metalworking and painting, to landscaping, building roads, installing carpets, and excavating sites. Depending on the project, construction managers also may interact with lawyers and local government officials. For example, when working on city-owned property or municipal buildings, managers sometimes confer with city council members to ensure that all regulations are met.

For projects too large to be managed by one person, such as office buildings and industrial complexes, a construction manager would only be in charge of one part of the project. Each construction manager would oversee a specific construction phase and choose subcontractors to complete it. Construction managers may need to collaborate and coordinate with other construction managers who are responsible for different aspects of the project.

To maximize efficiency and productivity, construction managers often use specialized cost-estimating and planning software to effectively budget the time and money required to complete specific projects. Many managers also use software to determine the best way to get materials to the building site. For more information, see the profile on cost estimators.


Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboards to walls and ceilings inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboards for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers do both installing and taping.

Drywall installers typically do the following:

  • Review design plans to minimize the number of cuts and waste of wallboard
  • Measure the location of electrical outlets, plumbing, windows, and vents
  • Cut drywall to the right size, using utility knives and power saws
  • Fasten drywall panels to interior wall studs, using nails or screws
  • Trim and smooth rough edges so boards join evenly

Ceiling tile installers typically do the following:

  • Measure according to blueprints or drawings
  • Nail or screw supports
  • Put tiles or sheets of shock-absorbing materials on ceilings  
  • Keep the tile in place with cement adhesive, nails, or screws

Tapers typically do the following:

  • Prepare wall surface (wallboard) by patching nail holes
  • Apply tape and use sealing compound to cover joints between wallboards
  • Apply additional coats of sealing compound to create an even surface
  • Sand all joints and holes to a smooth, seamless finish

Installers are also called framers or hangers. Tapers are also called finishers. Ceiling tile installers are sometimes called acoustical carpenters because they work with tiles that block sound.

Once wallboards are hung, workers use increasingly wider trowels to spread multiple coats of spackle over cracks, indentations, and any remaining imperfections. Some workers may use a mechanical applicator, a tool that spreads sealing compound on the wall joint while dispensing and setting tape at the same time.

To work on ceilings, drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers may use mechanical lifts or stand on stilts, ladders, or scaffolds.


Judges, Mediators, and Hearing Officers

Judges, mediators, and hearing officers apply the law to court cases and oversee the legal process in courts. They also resolve administrative disputes and facilitate negotiations between opposing parties.

Judges, mediators, and hearing officers typically do the following:

  • Research legal issues
  • Read and evaluate information from documents such as motions, claim applications, or records
  • Preside over hearings and listen to or read arguments by opposing parties
  • Determine if the information presented supports the charge, claim, or dispute
  • Decide if the procedure is being conducted according to the rules and law
  • Analyze, research, and apply laws, regulations, or precedents to reach judgments, conclusions, or agreements
  • Write opinions, decisions, or instructions regarding the case, claim, or dispute

Judges commonly preside over trials or hearings of cases regarding nearly every aspect of society, from individual traffic offenses to issues concerning the rights of large corporations. Judges listen to arguments and determine whether the evidence presented deserves a trial. In criminal cases, judges may decide that people charged with crimes should be held in jail until the trial, or they may set conditions for their release. They also approve search and arrest warrants.

Judges interpret the law to determine how a trial will proceed, which is particularly important when unusual circumstances arise for which standard procedures have not been established. They ensure that hearings and trials are conducted fairly and the legal rights of all involved parties are protected.

In trials in which juries are selected to decide the case, judges instruct jurors on applicable laws and direct them to consider the facts from the evidence. For other trials, judges decide the case. A judge who determines guilt in criminal cases may impose a sentence or penalty on the guilty party. In civil cases, the judge may award relief, such as compensation for damages, to the parties who win the lawsuit.

Some judges, such as appellate court judges, review decisions and records made by lower courts, and make decisions based on lawyers' written and oral arguments.

Judges use various forms of technology, such as electronic databases and software, to manage cases and prepare for trials. In some cases, a judge also may manage the court's administrative and clerical staff.

The following are examples of types of judges, mediators, and hearing officers:

Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates preside over trials or hearings. They typically work in local, state, and federal courts.

In local and state court systems, they have a variety of titles, such as municipal court judge, county court judge, magistrate, and justice of the peace. Traffic violations, misdemeanors, small-claims cases, and pretrial hearings make up the bulk of these judges' work.

In federal and state court systems, general trial court judges have authority over any case in their system. Appellate court judges rule on a small number of cases by reviewing decisions of the lower courts and lawyers' written and oral arguments.

Hearing officers, also known as administrative law judges or adjudicators, usually work for government agencies. They decide many issues, such as if a person is eligible for workers' compensation benefits, or if employment discrimination occurred.

Arbitrators, mediators, or conciliators help opposing parties settle disputes outside of court. They hold private, confidential hearings, which are less formal than a court trial.  

Arbitrators are usually attorneys or business people with expertise in a particular field. They hear and decide disputes between opposing parties as an impartial third party. When arbitration is required, if one side is not happy with the decision, they can still take the matter to court. Arbitration may also be voluntary, in which the opposing sides agree that whatever the arbitrator decides will be a final, binding decision.

Mediators are neutral parties who help people resolve their disputes. Mediators suggest solutions, but they do not make binding decisions. If the opposing sides cannot reach a settlement with the mediator's help, they are free to pursue other options.

Conciliators are similar to mediators. Their role is to help guide opposing sides to a settlement. The opposing sides must decide in advance if they will be bound by the conciliator's recommendations.


Lawyers

Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses, or government agencies on legal issues or disputes. 

Lawyers typically do the following:

  • Advise and represent clients in courts, before government agencies, or in private legal matters
  • Communicate with their clients and others
  • Conduct research and analysis of legal problems
  • Interpret laws, rulings, and regulations for individuals and businesses
  • Present facts in writing or verbally to their clients or others and argue on their behalf
  • Prepare and file legal documents, such as lawsuits, appeals, wills, contracts, and deeds

Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors.

As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client.

As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients about their legal rights and obligations and suggest courses of action in business and personal matters. All attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions and apply the laws to the specific circumstances that their clients face. 

To prepare for cases more efficiently, lawyers increasingly use the Internet, online legal databases, and virtual law libraries. Lawyers also often oversee the work of support staff, such as paralegals and legal assistants. For more information about legal support staff, see the profile on paralegals and legal assistants.

Lawyers may have different titles and different duties, depending on where they work.

Criminal law attorneys are also known as prosecutors or defense attorneys. Prosecutors work for the government to file a lawsuit, or charge, against an individual or corporation accused of violating the law.

Defense attorneys work for either individuals or the government (as public defenders) to represent, or defend, the accused.

Government counsels commonly work in government agencies. They write and interpret laws and regulations and set up procedures to enforce them. Government counsels also write legal reviews on agencies' decisions. They argue civil and criminal cases on behalf of the government.

Corporate counsels, also called in-house counsels, are lawyers who work for corporations. They advise a corporation's executives about legal issues related to the corporation's business activities. These issues might involve patents, government regulations, contracts with other companies, property interests, taxes, or collective-bargaining agreements with unions.

Legal aid lawyers work for private, nonprofit organizations for disadvantaged people. They generally handle civil cases, such as those about leases, job discrimination, and wage disputes, rather than criminal cases.

Lawyers often specialize in a particular area. The following are some examples of types of lawyers:

Environmental lawyers deal with issues and regulations that are related to the environment. They might represent advocacy groups, waste disposal companies, or government agencies to make sure they comply with the relevant laws.

Tax lawyers handle a variety of tax-related issues for individuals and corporations. Tax lawyers may help clients navigate complex tax regulations so that they pay the appropriate tax on income, profits, property, and so on. For example, they might advise a corporation on how much tax it needs to pay from profits made in different states to comply with the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) rules.

Intellectual property lawyers deal with the laws related to inventions, patents, trademarks, and creative works such as music, books, and movies. An intellectual property lawyer might advise a client about whether it is okay to use published material in the client's forthcoming book.

Family lawyers handle a variety of legal issues that pertain to the family. They may advise clients regarding divorce, child custody, and adoption proceedings.

Securities lawyers work on legal issues arising from the buying and sell of stocks, ensuring that all disclosure requirements are met. They may advise corporations that are interested in listing in the stock exchange through an initial public offering (IPO) or buying shares in another corporation.

Litigation lawyers handle all lawsuits and disputes between parties. These could be contract disputes, personal injury disputes, or real estate and property disputes. Litigation lawyers may specialize in a certain area, such as personal injury law, or may be a general lawyer for all types of disputes and lawsuits.

Some attorneys become teachers in law schools. For more information on law school professors, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.


Judges, Mediators, and Hearing Officers

Judges, mediators, and hearing officers apply the law to court cases and oversee the legal process in courts. They also resolve administrative disputes and facilitate negotiations between opposing parties.

Judges, mediators, and hearing officers typically do the following:

  • Research legal issues
  • Read and evaluate information from documents such as motions, claim applications, or records
  • Preside over hearings and listen to or read arguments by opposing parties
  • Determine if the information presented supports the charge, claim, or dispute
  • Decide if the procedure is being conducted according to the rules and law
  • Analyze, research, and apply laws, regulations, or precedents to reach judgments, conclusions, or agreements
  • Write opinions, decisions, or instructions regarding the case, claim, or dispute

Judges commonly preside over trials or hearings of cases regarding nearly every aspect of society, from individual traffic offenses to issues concerning the rights of large corporations. Judges listen to arguments and determine whether the evidence presented deserves a trial. In criminal cases, judges may decide that people charged with crimes should be held in jail until the trial, or they may set conditions for their release. They also approve search and arrest warrants.

Judges interpret the law to determine how a trial will proceed, which is particularly important when unusual circumstances arise for which standard procedures have not been established. They ensure that hearings and trials are conducted fairly and the legal rights of all involved parties are protected.

In trials in which juries are selected to decide the case, judges instruct jurors on applicable laws and direct them to consider the facts from the evidence. For other trials, judges decide the case. A judge who determines guilt in criminal cases may impose a sentence or penalty on the guilty party. In civil cases, the judge may award relief, such as compensation for damages, to the parties who win the lawsuit.

Some judges, such as appellate court judges, review decisions and records made by lower courts, and make decisions based on lawyers' written and oral arguments.

Judges use various forms of technology, such as electronic databases and software, to manage cases and prepare for trials. In some cases, a judge also may manage the court's administrative and clerical staff.

The following are examples of types of judges, mediators, and hearing officers:

Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates preside over trials or hearings. They typically work in local, state, and federal courts.

In local and state court systems, they have a variety of titles, such as municipal court judge, county court judge, magistrate, and justice of the peace. Traffic violations, misdemeanors, small-claims cases, and pretrial hearings make up the bulk of these judges' work.

In federal and state court systems, general trial court judges have authority over any case in their system. Appellate court judges rule on a small number of cases by reviewing decisions of the lower courts and lawyers' written and oral arguments.

Hearing officers, also known as administrative law judges or adjudicators, usually work for government agencies. They decide many issues, such as if a person is eligible for workers' compensation benefits, or if employment discrimination occurred.

Arbitrators, mediators, or conciliators help opposing parties settle disputes outside of court. They hold private, confidential hearings, which are less formal than a court trial.  

Arbitrators are usually attorneys or business people with expertise in a particular field. They hear and decide disputes between opposing parties as an impartial third party. When arbitration is required, if one side is not happy with the decision, they can still take the matter to court. Arbitration may also be voluntary, in which the opposing sides agree that whatever the arbitrator decides will be a final, binding decision.

Mediators are neutral parties who help people resolve their disputes. Mediators suggest solutions, but they do not make binding decisions. If the opposing sides cannot reach a settlement with the mediator's help, they are free to pursue other options.

Conciliators are similar to mediators. Their role is to help guide opposing sides to a settlement. The opposing sides must decide in advance if they will be bound by the conciliator's recommendations.


Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls, buildings, bridges, and other structures.

Painters typically do the following:

  • Cover floors and furniture with drop-cloths and tarps to protect surfaces
  • Remove fixtures such as pictures, door knobs, or electric switch covers
  • Put up scaffolding and set up ladders
  • Fill holes and cracks with caulk, putty, plaster, or other compounds
  • Prepare surfaces by scraping, wire brushing, or sanding to a smooth finish
  • Calculate the area to be painted and the amount of paint needed
  • Apply primers or sealers so the paint will adhere
  • Choose and mix paints and stains to reach desired color and appearance
  • Apply paint or other finishes using hand brushes, rollers, or sprayers

Applying paint to interior walls makes surfaces attractive and vibrant. In addition, paints and other sealers protect exterior surfaces from erosion caused by exposure to the weather.

Because there are several ways to apply paint, workers must be able to choose the proper tool for each job, such as the correct roller, power sprayer, and the right size brush. Choosing the right tool typically depends on the surface to be covered and the characteristics of the finish.

A few painters--mainly industrial--must use special safety equipment. For example, painting in confined spaces such as the inside of a large storage tank, requires workers to wear self-contained suits to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. When painting bridges, tall buildings, or oil rigs, painters may work from scaffolding, bosun's chairs, and harnesses to reach work areas.

The following are examples of types of painters:  

Construction painters apply paints, stains, and coatings to interior and exterior walls, new buildings, and other structural surfaces.

Maintenance painters remove old finishes and apply paints, stains, and coatings later in a structure's life. Some painters specialize in painting or coating industrial structures, such as bridges and oil rigs, to prevent corrosion.

Artisan painters specialize in creating distinct finishes by using one of many decorative techniques. One technique is adding glaze for added depth and texture. Other common techniques may include sponging, distressing, rag-rolling, color blocking, and faux finishes. 

Painting and coating workers apply materials to manufactured products, such as furniture, toys and pottery, as well as transportation equipment including trucks, buses, boats, and airplanes. For more information about these painters, see the profile on painting and coating workers.


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