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Window Cleaner Job Description, Career as a Window Cleaner, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: None

Salary: Median—$18,790 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Window cleaners wash and dry glass surfaces on the insides and outsides of buildings. They usually work for window cleaning companies or for building maintenance firms that do many different kinds of cleaning. Large business and industrial firms often hire window cleaners as permanent employees. Some window cleaners have their own businesses.

Window cleaners wash glass surfaces in private homes, offices, and many other kinds of buildings. In addition to windows, they often wash glass partitions, mirrors, and other glass surfaces. Window cleaners use brushes, sponges, or wet cloths to apply soapy water or other cleaning solutions to the surfaces. They dry the wet glass with a cloth, chamois skin, or squeegee. When they work on windows above the ground floor, window cleaners use scaffolding, ladders, or special swinging seats. They sometimes crawl through windows from the inside and support themselves with safety belts hooked to brackets.

Education and Training Requirements

There are no specific educational requirements for window cleaners. Prospective window cleaners must be at least eighteen years old. Interested individuals can learn window cleaning on the job. Some employers give new workers a short demonstration of how to clean windows. Others offer supervised training for several weeks. Unions usually require an apprenticeship lasting six months or more. Training programs teach prospective workers about the different cleaning solutions, how to set up scaffolding, how to use belts and ladders safely, and how to use cleaning equipment properly.

Getting the Job

Interested candidates can get a job as a window cleaner by applying directly to window cleaning companies, building maintenance companies, or large business or industrial firms that hire window cleaners as permanent employees. Some job openings can be found in newspaper classifieds. State and private employment agencies may also be helpful in finding a job.

Window cleaners must have a good sense of balance since they must often use scaffolding, ladders, or special swinging seats to wash windows and other glass surfaces on buildings. (© John Gress/Reuters/Corbis.)

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced workers can become supervisors in large window cleaning companies. Some window cleaners go into business for themselves. Starting a window cleaning business requires a small investment in tools and equipment. There will continue to be a demand for building construction, so the employment outlook is expected to be good through the year 2014. There will also be job openings to replace workers who leave the field.

Working Conditions

Window cleaners work indoors and outdoors, sometimes in bad weather. Their work requires them to stoop, kneel, climb, and reach. Window cleaners do repetitive work. They must have good balance and not be afraid of heights. There is some risk of injury from slipping on wet surfaces and falling from ladders, scaffolding, and window ledges. However, such accidents are not common. Window cleaners must also lift heavy equipment. They may work alone or in teams. They usually work thirty-five to forty hours a week. Many window cleaners belong to unions.

Where to Go for More Information

Building Service Contractors Association International
10201 Lee Hwy., Ste. 225
Fairfax, VA 22030
(800) 368-3414

Cleaning Management Institute
13 Century Hill Dr.
Latham, NY 12110
(518) 783-1281

Service Employees International Union
1313 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20005
(800) 424-8592

Earnings and Benefits

Beginning window cleaners in some cities earn the minimum wage. Experienced window cleaners earn a median salary of $18,790 per year. Window cleaners who work at great heights and those who use scaffolding, ladders, and safety belts usually receive higher wages because of the greater risk of injury. Benefits that are provided by employers usually include paid vacations and holidays, health insurance, and pension plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesConsumer and Personal Services