Janitors and Building Cleaners

Career, Salary and Education Information

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a janitor or building cleaner with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Janitor and Building Cleaner Jobs

  • Janitor - Able Services - Boulder, CO

    Dust furniture, walls, machines, and equipment. • Make adjustments and minor repairs to

  • Janitor - Irving, TX - Able Services - Irving, TX

    Clean chimneys, flues, and connecting pipes, using power and hand tools. • Clean laboratory equipment, such as glassware and

  • La Grange LCRA Supervisor Cleaner - ABM - La Grange, TX

    Duties may include cleaning and maintaining carpets and hard surface floors by vacuuming, sweeping and mopping floors. Dusting furniture, pictures

See all Janitor and Building Cleaner jobs

What Janitors and Building Cleaners Do[About this section] [To Top]

Janitors and building cleaners keep many types of buildings clean, orderly, and in good condition.

Duties of Janitors and Building Cleaners

Janitors and building cleaners typically do the following:

  • Gather and empty trash
  • Sweep, mop, or vacuum building floors
  • Clean restrooms and stock them with supplies
  • Lock doors to secure buildings
  • Clean spills and other hazards with appropriate equipment
  • Wash windows, walls, and glass
  • Order cleaning supplies
  • Make minor building repairs
  • Notify managers when a building needs major repairs

Janitors and building cleaners keep office buildings, schools, hospitals, retail stores, hotels, and other places clean, sanitary, and in good condition. Some only clean, while others have a wide range of duties.

In addition to keeping the inside of buildings clean and orderly, some janitors and building cleaners work outdoors, mowing lawns, sweeping walkways, and removing snow. Some workers also monitor the building's heating and cooling system, ensuring that it functions properly.

Janitors and building cleaners use many tools and equipment. Simple cleaning tools may include mops, brooms, rakes, and shovels. Other tools may include snowblowers, floor buffers, and carpet extraction equipment.

Some janitors are responsible for repairing minor electrical or plumbing problems, such as leaky faucets.

The following are examples of types of janitors and building cleaners:

Building superintendents are responsible for maintaining residential buildings, such as apartments and condominiums. Although their duties are similar to those of other janitors, some building superintendents also help collect rent and show vacancies to potential tenants.

Custodians are janitors or cleaning workers who typically maintain institutional facilities, such as public schools and hospitals.

Work Environment for Janitors and Building Cleaners[About this section] [To Top]

Janitors and building cleaners hold about 2.4 million jobs. The largest employers of janitors and building cleaners are as follows:

Services to buildings and dwellings 36%
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 13
Healthcare and social assistance 7
Government 5
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 5

Most janitors and building cleaners work indoors, but some work outdoors part of the time, sweeping walkways, mowing lawns, and shoveling snow. They spend most of the day walking, standing, or bending while cleaning. Sometimes they must move or lift heavy supplies and equipment. As a result, the work may be strenuous on the back, arms, and legs. Some tasks, such as cleaning restrooms and trash areas, can be dirty and unpleasant.

Janitor and Building Cleaner Injuries and Illnesses

Janitors and building cleaners have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Workers sometime suffer minor cuts, bruises, and burns from machines, tools, and chemicals. As a result, workers are increasingly required to take safety training and ergonomics instruction.

How to Become a Janitor or Building Cleaner[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Janitors and Building Cleaners near you!

Most janitors and building cleaners learn on the job. Formal education is not required.

Education for Janitors and Building Cleaners

Janitors and building cleaners do not need any formal educational credential. However, high school courses in shop can be helpful for jobs involving repair work.

Janitor and Building Cleaner Training

Most janitors and building cleaners learn on the job. Beginners typically work with a more experienced janitor, learning how to use and maintain equipment such as vacuums, floor buffers, and other tools. On the job, they also learn how to repair minor electrical and plumbing problems.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Janitors and Building Cleaners

Although not required, certification is available through the Building Service Contractors Association International, the IEHA (formerly International Executive Housekeepers Association), and ISSA—The International Sanitary Supply Association. Certification can demonstrate competence and may make applicants more appealing to employers.

Important Qualities for Janitors and Building Cleaners

Interpersonal skills. Janitors and building cleaners should get along well with their supervisors, other cleaners, and the people who live or work in the buildings they clean.

Mechanical skills. Janitors and building cleaners should understand general building operations. They should be able to make routine repairs, such as repairing leaky faucets.

Physical stamina. Janitors and building cleaners spend most of their workday on their feet, operating cleaning equipment and lifting and moving supplies or tools. As a result, they should have good physical stamina.

Physical strength. Janitors and building cleaners often must lift and move cleaning materials and heavy equipment. Cases of liquid cleaner and trash receptacles, for example, can be very heavy, so workers should be strong enough to lift them without injuring their back.

Time-management skills. Janitors and building cleaners should be able to plan and complete tasks in a timely manner.

Janitor and Building Cleaner Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median hourly wage for janitors and building cleaners is $11.63. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.65, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $19.60.

The median hourly wages for janitors and building cleaners in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Government $14.79
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 13.85
Healthcare and social assistance 11.95
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 11.21
Services to buildings and dwellings 10.77

Most janitors and building cleaners work full time. Because office buildings are often cleaned while they are empty, many cleaners work evening hours. When there is a need for 24-hour maintenance, as there often is in hospitals and hotels, cleaners work in shifts.

Job Outlook for Janitors and Building Cleaners[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of janitors and building cleaners is projected to grow 10 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Many new jobs are expected in facilities related to healthcare, an industry that is expected to grow rapidly.

In addition, as more companies outsource their cleaning services, cleaning or janitorial contractors are likely to benefit and experience employment growth.

Job Prospects for Janitors and Building Cleaners

Overall job prospects are expected to be favorable. Most job openings will come from the need to replace the many workers who leave or retire from this very large occupation.

Employment projections data for Janitors and Building Cleaners, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners 2,384,600 2,617,700 10 233,000


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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