Janitor: Career Information

Janitor in office late at night, cleaning window
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Janitor is possibly one of the most underrated occupations. No doubt, though, we'd take notice if it didn't exist. Janitors maintain the cleanliness of the buildings in which we live, work, learn, shop and convalesce. They clean the interiors, and often the exteriors, of these facilities. Some also make minor plumbing and electrical repairs. Janitors go by several job titles including custodian, cleaner, custodial support technician, cleaning technician and environmental services technician.

Employment Facts

There were about 2,310,000 janitors employed in 2010. Many work for companies that provide janitorial services to other entities. Other jobs are in elementary and secondary schools. The majority of janitors work full-time, but there are many part-time jobs to be found as well. Schedules often include evenings and weekends. Those who prefer to work during the day should consider a job in a school where such a schedule is most likely.

A janitor typically works indoors, but may also spend time outdoors. Therefore he or she may be exposed to extremely hot, cold or otherwise inclement weather at least during part of his or her workday. That is just one downside of this occupation. Many also consider this a dirty job. Another downside is the physical stress. Lifting heavy items and spending much of the day standing can strain one's body. Janitors are also more susceptible than other workers to workplace injuries like burns, bruises, and cuts.

Educational Requirements

Those who are just starting out will receive on-the-job training from experienced workers who teach them how to use machines like wet-dry vacuums and floor buffers. They will also learn how to make minor plumbing and electrical repairs.

Other Requirements

A janitor needs good interpersonal skills. It will help him, or her get along with colleagues, supervisors and the people who inhabit the facilities in which they work. He or she should also be physically strong and have good stamina given the amount of lifting and standing that are a regular part of this job. Mechanical skills will enable one to do repair work.

A janitor who works with hazardous materials may need to become certified. One who uses heavy equipment, for example, forklifts, may also need certification.

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth that is as fast as the average for all occupations through 2020. There will be plenty of job openings for janitors as people retire or change careers. It appears, as a matter of fact, on a list of occupations expected to have the most job openings during this decade.


Janitors earned a median annual salary of $22,370 and median hourly wages of $10.75 in 2011 (US).

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a Janitor currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Janitor's Life

On a typical day a janitor's tasks might include:

  • emptying trash cans
  • cleaning restrooms and keeping them stocked with supplies
  • sweeping, vacuuming and washing floors
  • shampooing carpets and polishing floors
  • washing windows and mirrors
  • shoveling snow, raking leaves and mowing lawns, depending on the season
  • moving supplies and heavy equipment

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Janitors and Building Cleaners, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/janitors-and-building-cleaners.htm (visited December 13, 2012).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/37-2011.00 (visited December 13, 2012).