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Janitor

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Number of Jobs

280,000

Median Salary

$22,320

Unemployment Rate

10.1 percent

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Janitor may not be a glamorous job, but it has its perks: flexible schedules, including opportunities for part-time work, and no formal education requirements. The country’s 2.3 million janitors help keep offices, schools, hospitals, shopping centers and other places clean and orderly. In addition to buffing floors and washing windows, they perform minor repairs around buildings, and they’re in charge of ordering cleaning supplies and maintaining equipment. Janitors are also a facility’s first line of defense in stopping the spread of germs. “The single greatest thing about being a cleaning service professional is the fact that you are truly making a difference as a frontline protector of public health,” wrote Dan Wagner, director of facility service programs for ISSA–The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, in an email. Interpersonal skills are crucial, since janitors must get along with the people who live or work in the buildings they clean; these skills help when janitors serve as a liaison between building managers, security guards, housekeeping staff and groundskeepers.

Although janitors with prior experience make more attractive job candidates, it is possible to land a cleaning position with little to no experience and then receive on-the-job training. Another upside to the profession is the opportunity to gain exposure to many walks of life. Do you like working with kids? Consider becoming a janitor for an elementary school. Sports junkie? Find out if your local stadium has any open custodial positions.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 12 percent employment increase in this industry between 2012 and 2022, equating to 280,000 new jobs for janitors. Many openings are expected in the booming health care industry, but the need to replace workers who leave or retire will result in the most jobs.

Salary

There’s a wide pay scale within this industry. A janitor’s median salary was $22,320 in 2012. But the best-paid made about $37,790, and the lowest-paid garnered only $16,820. Sanitation workers employed by the postal service, rail transportation and natural gas distribution industries secured the top salaries, as did those who live in the metropolitan areas of Danbury, Conn., New York City, and Barnstable Town, Mass.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $29,330
Median $22,320
25th Percentile $18,480

Training

Some initial training will seem inherent to anyone who performed household chores when growing up: sweeping floors, scrubbing toilets and changing light bulbs. But most janitors use specialized equipment, like wet-and-dry vacuums and pressure washers, so the training they’ll receive on the clock will be invaluable. A formal education isn’t necessary to secure entry-level employment, but companies are increasingly seeking experienced candidates who have received competency certification from either the Building Service Contractors Association International or the ISSA.

Reviews & Advice

A certified job candidate will be more attractive to employers than a janitor without any certification. These designations imply that you’ve learned certain mechanical skills necessary to fulfill the job tasks and can help you advance to higher positions. “There are also a number of opportunities for cleaning service workers who are committed and who demonstrate an understanding of their true role (as well as technical proficiency in performing the job) as supervisor and management positions are often filled by frontline workers. The key is education and training,” Wagner writes. Employers are also looking for janitors with good communication skills who can display the stamina and physical strength required to handle the job’s most strenuous tasks.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility poor Below Average
Stress Level good Low
Flexibility fair Average
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Last updated by Katy Marquardt.


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