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Television series like “Downton Abbey” and novels like “The Help” might have brought the lives and responsibilities of maids closer to the forefront. But it’s not just the upper class that benefits from these workers’ services. Housekeepers and maids perform essential tasks for our society as a whole. They’re the men and women who empty our office trash cans at night. They mop floors, make beds and polish furniture in our hotel rooms while we’re sightseeing on vacation. In general, they dust around, soap up, suds down and mop away our messes, helping keep our lives running smoothly (and hygienically). Most maids and housekeepers work in hotels and motels – which explains why some of the field’s highest-paid employees work in big cities and travel destinations with a plethora of hotels – but the next-largest chunk of the workforce cleans in private households. The rest are split between nursing homes, hospitals and office buildings. In public facilities, a maid’s duties might sometimes overlap with those of janitors, although maids work indoors primarily, and janitors might handle larger cleanup jobs and repair work.
The need for diligent and courteous people to perform light cleaning duties isn’t as urgent as the need for some other professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of about 12.8 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is similar to the average for all occupations. Still, job prospects are expected to be good, particularly for experienced housekeepers and those looking to work in hotels. There should be 183,400 new positions this decade.
According to the BLS, housekeepers earned a median salary of $19,570, or approximately $9.41 per hour, in 2012. The best-paid earned about $30,980, while the lowest-paid earned less than $17,000. Areas of the industry that pay well include outpatient care centers and financial and business firms. Big cities also tend to compensate well – specifically, the metropolitan areas of New York, San Francisco and Honolulu.
There isn’t standardized training to become a housekeeper, although most employers insist on hiring people who have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Those with prior experience are obviously more marketable, but a personable and professional candidate also stands a good chance of gaining employment – particularly if he or she is a quick study and has good customer service skills. New hires tend to receive on-the-job training from more experienced maids.
It’s easier to land a housekeeping job when you’ve had prior experience. But if you’re new, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure a good first impression on an interview. First, show up on time and be immaculately dressed. Punctuality is important for any job interview, but wearing well-fitting, freshly laundered and ironed clothes could indicate what type of housekeeper you’ll be. Next, show that you have good interpersonal skills. Maids, particularly those who work in private homes, must show that they get along well with the people who hire them. To become a housekeeper, it might also help to know how to cook and have experience working with children and pets.
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Last updated by Kimberly Castro.