Janitors and building cleaners held about 2.3 million jobs in 2021. The largest employers of janitors and building cleaners were as follows:
|Services to buildings and dwellings||36%|
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||13|
|Healthcare and social assistance||7|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations||4|
Janitors and building cleaners usually work indoors, but they may work outdoors on tasks such as sweeping walkways, mowing lawns, and shoveling snow. They spend most of the day walking, standing, or bending while cleaning. They often 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, are dirty or unpleasant.
Injuries and Illnesses
Janitors and building cleaners sometimes get injured on the job. For example, they may suffer sprains or strains from heavy lifting or pain and soreness from repetitive motion. Workers may receive safety and ergonomics training to help minimize these risks.
Most janitors and building cleaners work full time, but part-time work is common. Work schedules may vary. Because office buildings are often cleaned while they are empty, many cleaners work evening hours. When there is a need for 24-hour maintenance, such as in hospitals, cleaners work in shifts that may include nights, weekends, or holidays.
Janitors and building cleaners typically do not need formal education to enter the occupation. However, some employers may require or prefer that workers have a high school diploma or equivalent. Most janitors and building cleaners learn on the job.
Janitors and building cleaners typically do not need a formal educational credential to qualify for entry-level jobs. But for some positions, they may need to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Elective high school courses, such as in industrial arts, may be helpful for occupations involving repair.
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 equipment and tools. They also may 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 ISSA—The International Sanitary Supply Association, and IEHA, a division of ISSA. Certification demonstrates competence and may make applicants more appealing to employers.
Janitors and building cleaners typically have an interest in the Building and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a janitor and building cleaner, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Janitors and building cleaners should also possess the following specific qualities:
Interpersonal skills. Janitors and building cleaners should get along well with other cleaners, the people who live or work in the buildings they clean, and their supervisors.
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 the work day 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.
The median hourly wage for janitors and building cleaners was $14.31 in May 2021. 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 $10.74, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $22.26.
In May 2021, 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||14.78|
|Healthcare and social assistance||14.41|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations||14.38|
|Services to buildings and dwellings||13.98|
Most janitors and building cleaners work full time, although part-time work is common. Work schedules may vary. Because office buildings are often cleaned while they are empty, many cleaners work evening hours. When there is a need for 24-hour maintenance, such as in hospitals, cleaners work in shifts that may include nights, weekends, or holidays.
Employment of janitors and building cleaners is projected to grow 4 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 335,500 openings for janitors and building cleaners are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
These workers are essential to the upkeep of building interiors. Their services will be needed to meet the continued demand for clean and healthy spaces.
For more information about janitors and building cleaners, visit
Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARSCI)
Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI)