Janitors and Building Cleaners

Summary

janitors and building cleaners image
Janitors and building cleaners use many types of tools and equipment.
Quick Facts: Janitors and Building Cleaners
2014 Median Pay $22,840 per year
$10.98 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 2,360,600
Job Outlook, 2014-24 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 136,300

What Janitors and Building Cleaners Do

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

Work Environment

Most janitors and building cleaners work indoors. However, some work outdoors part of the time, sweeping walkways, mowing lawns, and removing snow. Because office buildings often are cleaned while they are empty, many cleaners work evening hours. The work can be physically demanding and sometimes dirty and unpleasant.

How to Become a Janitor or Building Cleaner

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

Pay

The median hourly wage for janitors and building cleaners was $10.98 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of janitors and building cleaners is projected to 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Many new jobs are expected in facilities related to healthcare, an industry that is expected to grow rapidly.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for janitors and building cleaners.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of janitors and building cleaners with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about janitors and building cleaners by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Janitors and Building Cleaners Do

Janitors and building cleaners
Janitors and building cleaners wash windows and glass.

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

Duties

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

Janitors and building cleaners
Most janitors and building cleaners work indoors, but some may work outdoors.

Janitors and building cleaners held about 2.4 million jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most janitors and building cleaners were as follows:

Services to buildings and dwellings 35%
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 13
Healthcare and social assistance 7
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 6

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.

Injuries and Illnesses

Janitors and building cleaners have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Workers 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.

Work Schedules

Most janitors and building cleaners work full time, but some work part time. Because office buildings often are cleaned while they are empty, many cleaners work evening hours. Janitors in schools, however, usually work during the day.

When there is a need for 24-hour maintenance, as there often is in hospitals and hotels, janitors work in shifts.

How to Become a Janitor or Building Cleaner

Janitors and building cleaners
Janitors need stamina because they spend much of their time on their feet.

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

Education

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.

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

Although not required, certification is available through the Building Service Contractors Association International, the 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

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.

Pay

Janitors and Building Cleaners

Median hourly wages, May 2014

Total, all occupations

$17.09

Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners

$10.98

Building cleaning and pest control workers

$10.64

 

The median hourly wage for janitors and building cleaners was $10.98 in May 2014. 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 $8.23, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.46.

In May 2014, the median hourly wages for janitors and building cleaners in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private $13.19
Healthcare and social assistance 11.23
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 10.69
Services to buildings and dwellings 9.91

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

Janitors and Building Cleaners

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Building cleaning and pest control workers

6%

Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners

6%

 

Employment of janitors and building cleaners is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as 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

Overall job prospects are expected to be favorable. Those with related work experience and training should have the best job opportunities. 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, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners

37-2011 2,360,600 2,496,900 6 136,300 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of janitors and building cleaners.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Grounds maintenance workers

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Grounds maintenance workers ensure that the grounds of houses, businesses, and parks are attractive, orderly, and healthy in order to provide a pleasant outdoor environment.

See How to Become One $24,810
Pest control workers

Pest Control Workers

Pest control workers remove unwanted creatures, such as roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, and termites that infest buildings and surrounding areas.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,660
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Janitors and Building Cleaners,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/janitors-and-building-cleaners.htm (visited February 10, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015