About Janitors and Cleaners

From California Occupational Guide Number 88
Interest Area 5-D

JANITORS AND CLEANERS keep office buildings, hotels, stores, factories, 
hospitals, schools, and other places clean.  Job titles and job duties may 
be different in this job group, depending on where the work is done.  For 
example, jobs in this field also include Chimney Sweeps, Window Cleaners, 
and Laboratory Aides.

Janitors and Cleaners sweep, vacuum, mop and wax floors, clean carpets, 
dust and polish furniture, clean and supply restrooms, collect and throw 
out trash, wash walls and ceilings, replace lights, and polish metal work.  
In some jobs they may do minor repairs, paint, do carpentry work, kill 
insects and other pests, clean heavy machinery, tend furnaces, air 
conditioners and boilers, operate heavy machinery such as paper balers, or 
supervise other workers.  In schools and office buildings, they may set up 
tables and chairs in auditoriums or meeting rooms.  Janitors and Cleaners 
must know how to use chemical cleaners and power equipment to keep from 
harming or damaging floors and fixtures.  Other jobs in this category 

Industrial Cleaners -- These workers keep work areas in industrial 
businesses clean and orderly.  Using a hand truck, they may carry products 
or supplies between departments or buildings.  These workers often clean 
lint, dust, oil, and grease from machines and conveyers, wash floors using 
a hose, and may wash out processing tanks, containers or barrels.

Laboratory Equipment Cleaners -- These workers clean the laboratory's 
glassware, metal instruments, sinks, tables, and test panels, using soaps 
and solvents, brushes, and rags.  There are many duties, these include 
mixing water and detergent or acids to sterilize equipment, washing walls 
and floors of the laboratory, labeling  tubes and bottles, and filing 
microscope slides.

Window Cleaners -- These workers use soapy water or other cleaners, 
sponges and squeegees to clean windows, glass partitions, and mirrors.  
This job often requires working on ladders, the use of a swing chair, or 
scaffolding to reach outside windows on upper floors of a building.

Chimney Sweeps -- Chimney sweeping is one of the oldest jobs in history, 
and even in California the sweeps often dress in the traditional top hat 
and coat and tails of an English Chimney Sweep.  Although many kinds of 
brushes are used, today's Chimney Sweeps usually use a vacuum that empties 
soot and dirt into a container mounted on a truck.  They clean out 
fireplace flues, connecting pipes, and may reseal joints with cement.


Janitorial work is often done at night when the building is closed.  The 
employee must be able to work alone.  The work may be hard.  The employee 
may be exposed to irritating cleaning detergents.  Janitors and Cleaners may 
be assigned to work shifts when 24-hour service is needed.  The work is 
usually done inside buildings which are heated and well-lit.  Sometimes 
they may work outdoors sweeping walkways and mowing lawns.  Duties like 
dusting or sweeping require a lot of bending, stooping, and stretching.


The California Projections of Employment, published by the Labor Market 
Information Division of the Employment Development Department, estimates 
that the number of Janitors and Cleaners in California will reach 222,190 by 
2005, an increase in new jobs of 45,260 over the number there were in 1993.

There will also be an estimated 44,520 job openings due to people retiring 
or leaving the occupation.  Added to the 45,260 new jobs expected, this 
makes for an estimated total of 89,780 job opportunities through 2005.

(These figures do not include self-employment nor openings due to turnover.)

There are many Janitors and Cleaners in California.  Since companies usually 
contract Janitors and Cleaners from commercial cleaning services, these 
services are becoming a very important source of jobs.  Demand for workers 
is expected to grow because of a large number of people changing jobs, plus 
job openings resulting from the building of office and other commercial 

There will continue to be more applicants than jobs, but many of the 
applicants are not qualified.


Janitors and Cleaners with little or no experience start from minimum wage 
to $11.50 an hour.  Unionized firms, which generally require employees to 
have janitorial experience, pay from the minimum wage to $11.75 an hour, 
depending on the location.  Nonunion firms generally pay experienced 
employees from minimum wage to $14.00 an hour.

In big cities most of the Janitors and Cleaners belong to a union.  In the 
small towns, they are usually non-union.

Benefits may include paid holidays, vacation, sick leave, medical and dental 
insurance, and a retirement plan.

Part-time work is common.  Janitors and Cleaners just starting out in this 
job or moving from another area may have to begin by working only one or two 
days per week.


Janitors and Cleaners must have the strength to do hard work, be able to 
work alone, and to read and follow directions.

For janitorial route work, a driver's license and a car may be needed.  Most 
Janitors and Cleaners learn on the job.  They are given harder work with 
more experience.  They learn to operate and keep up machines used on the job 
such as wet and dry vacuums, buffers, and polishers.

Janitors and Cleaners may take classes at job training centers, community 
colleges, or adult schools.  However, many are trained on the job by the 
employer or by a co-worker.


Experienced Janitors and Cleaners may promote to maintenance supervisor, 
and, if they save enough money, may eventually own and run their own 
janitorial service.


Janitors and Cleaners may find work directly through employers, union 
hiring halls, private employment agencies, and the California Employment 
Development Department Job Service.

Newspaper ads are also a good source of job leads.  In the classified ads, 
Janitor jobs may be listed under various titles such as Cleaner, Porter, 
Custodian and, even, Laborer or General Helper.


Building Service Contractors Association International
10201 Lee Highway, Suite 225
Fairfax, VA  22030
(703) 359-7090


Private Household Workers                       No. 395


DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th ed., Rev. 1)
Cleaner, Commercial or Institutional        381.687-014
Cleaner, Industrial                         381.687-018
Cleaner, Laboratory Equipment               381.687-022
Janitor                                     382.664-010
Cleaner, Window                             389.687-014
Chimney Sweep                               891.687-010

OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System
Janitors and Cleaners                            670050

Source:  State of California, Employment Development Department,
         Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group,
         (916) 262-2162.

Note:  This is NOT a job opening.  The purpose of this occupational guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions.   If you are searching for a job, go to: