4 minute read

Building Cleaning Worker Job Description, Career as a Building Cleaning Worker, Salary, Employment

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

Education and Training On-the-job training

Salary Varies depending on the specific cleaning position

Employment Outlook Good

Building cleaning workers consist of janitors, housekeeping cleaners, maids, window washers, and rug shampooers, who clean, sanitize, and keep facilities in good condition. They typically clean office buildings, stores, apartments, hospitals, hotels, apartment complexes, and residences.

Janitors as well as cleaners do most of the heavy cleaning. This includes cleaning floors, washing walls and glass, removing rubbish, and shampooing carpets. Janitors may also do some maintenance such as fix leaky faucets, do painting and carpentry, mow lawns, make minor repairs, exterminate insects and rodents, replenish bathroom supplies, and remove snow from walkways. Cleaners, on the other hand, generally work for a specific company and perform one task, such as window washing.

Maids and housekeeping cleaners perform light cleaning duties in hotels, restaurants, private households, hospitals, and nursing homes. Those who work in hotels may perform additional tasks on top of general housekeeping, such as delivering rollaway beds, cribs, and ironing boards to guests’ rooms. In hospitals, additional tasks include disinfecting and sanitizing equipment and supplies, making beds, and washing bed frames.

Most building cleaning workers use special equipment and products to clean properly and to work more efficiently. They often work in teams, especially in hotels, hospitals, and other large facilities. It is important for building cleaning workers to be hard-working, dependable and in good health, as well as follow directions and work as a team.

Education and Training Requirements

There is no education requirement for entry-level building cleaning workers, however, they should be able to follow instructions and perform easy arithmetic. On-the-job training is provided by the employer. As part of the training, entry-level workers team up with an experienced worker and perform routine cleaning. This continues until the new employee gains enough experience to move onto more complicated tasks.

Most employers prefer building cleaning workers to have a high school diploma, however, it is not required. High school courses which benefit this line of work include shop courses. Those interested in supervisory positions must have a minimum of a high school diploma. Many supervisors have some college education and more, especially those who work in hotels and hospitals.

Although few cleaning supervisors and managers are certified, two certification programs are available through the International Executive Housekeepers Association: Certified Executive Housekeeper (CEH), and Registered Executive Housekeeper (REH). The CEH program is designed for those with a high school education, while the REH program is offered to supervisors and managers with a 4-year college degree. Certification is earned by taking classes and passing an exam. To remain certified both programs require renewal every three years.

Getting the Job

Interested candidates can apply directly to the employer, seek employment by checking local newspaper ads, contact local labor unions for job opportunities, or contact state employment agencies.

Building cleaning workers should have good interpersonal skills, the ability to work as a team and get along with others, be dependable, hard-working, and be in good health.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

The job outlook for building cleaning workers is expected to grow in the next several years due to new buildings being constructed such as office complexes, schools, hospitals, factories, and apartment complexes which require cleaning services. Private households will also require cleaning services, primarily due to busy schedules. The older population will also require assistance with maintaining their homes.

In addition, building cleaning workers will be needed to replace those who leave the field every year. Low pay, limited advancement, part-time work, and temporary positions force many to seek other employment.

Advancement opportunities vary depending on the size of the building cleaning team. Those with one worker can expect no promotion opportunities. In larger facilities, advancement into supervisory roles, area supervisor positions, and managers are potential options. Those with a high school diploma have a better chance for advancement. In addition, experienced janitors often open their own maintenance or cleaning service.

Working Conditions

Building cleaning workers typically work 40 hours per week, unless they are employed part-time. Part-time workers generally work evenings and weekends. Most building cleaners work in the evenings when buildings are vacant, with the exception of school and hospital custodians which often work during the day. If there is a need for 24-hour maintenance, janitors will be assigned different shifts to work.

Most of the duties are performed indoors with the exception of occasional outdoor work, such as mowing lawns, sweeping sidewalks, or shoveling snow off walkways. Since building cleaning workers use special equipment when doing their job, they may suffer minor cuts, bruises, and burns from tools and other machinery. They spend most of the work day on their feet, and perform tasks that may require lifting, bending, stooping, and stretching.

Where to Go for More Information

International Executive Housekeepers Association, Inc.
1001 Eastwind Dr., Ste. 301
Westerville, OH 43081-3361

Earnings and Benefits

Supervisors and managers earn the most money in this industry. The median salary in May 2006 was $31,290 for supervisors and managers of housekeeping and janitorial staff. Janitors and cleaners averaged $19,930 per year in 2006, while housekeepers and maids earned an average of $17,580 per year.

The pay is considerably low, while benefits vary by company and the employee’s work status.

Additional topics

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