Janitors and Cleaners


Employment Prospects


More than 2.4 million janitors and cleaners are employed in the United States. Janitors and cleaners work as regular staff employees in office buildings, apartments, hotels, hospitals, and factories. About 13 percent of janitors are employed by elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools. Independent cleaning contractors offer many janitorial, cleaning, and supervisory positions. Those with experience, contacts, references, and an interest in entrepreneurship could start their own cleaning businesses.

Starting Out

Entry into janitorial or custodial jobs may be obtained by filing applications with state employment offices or private companies. Positions are also often advertised in newspaper or online want ads. Applications to building management firms, building service contract firms, or building owners are possibilities for those who desire jobs in apartment or office buildings. Hotels and motels typically have a personnel office that does the hiring, so job seekers should check with them for openings and applications. Obtaining certification may lead to higher paying jobs.

Advancement Prospects

More complex tasks and higher pay are usually given to those who have gained experience and have proven themselves to be efficient and dependable workers. If the custodian is the only maintenance employee in a building, advancement opportunities are limited. Supervisory positions are possible, on the other hand, for those who work on a large maintenance staff, especially for those who hold a high school diploma. Janitors may become building superintendents, janitorial services supervisors, or custodial supervisors. With additional training in real estate and managerial skills, the ambitious custodian may eventually move into property management. Some experienced custodians establish their own contract cleaning and maintenance businesses, providing services to a number of clients. This requires some administrative and supervisory skills as well as the ability and resources needed to start and grow a new business.

Tips for Entry

If you're considering launching your own cleaning service business, make sure to do your research. Find out how many other companies you may be competing with, how many companies in your market currently use cleaning services, and how well your competitors are doing.

Consult with other successful cleaning service business owners outside your area. Network through social media and find out what they've done and not done to be successful, or set up information interviews with them to find out more information.

Find a summer or part-time job as a janitor or cleaner; this will provide valuable experience.