Janitor and Building Cleaner Career Description


Janitors and building cleaners keep many types of buildings clean, orderly, and in good condition.

What they do

Janitors and building cleaners typically do the following:

  • Gather and empty trash
  • Sweep, mop, or vacuum building floors
  • Clean restrooms and stock them with supplies
  • Lock doors to secure buildings
  • Clean spills and other hazards with appropriate equipment
  • Wash windows, walls, and glass
  • Order cleaning supplies
  • Make minor building repairs
  • Notify managers when a building needs major repairs

Janitors and building cleaners keep office buildings, schools, hospitals, retail stores, hotels, and other places clean, sanitary, and in good condition. Some only clean, while others have a wide range of duties.

In addition to keeping the inside of buildings clean and orderly, some janitors and building cleaners work outdoors, mowing lawns, sweeping walkways, and removing snow. Some workers also monitor the building’s heating and cooling system, ensuring that it functions properly.

Janitors and building cleaners use many tools and equipment. Simple cleaning tools may include mops, brooms, rakes, and shovels. Other tools may include snowblowers, floor buffers, and carpet extraction equipment.

Some janitors are responsible for repairing minor electrical or plumbing problems, such as leaky faucets.

The following are examples of types of janitors and building cleaners:

Building superintendents are responsible for maintaining residential buildings, such as apartments and condominiums. Although their duties are similar to those of other janitors, some building superintendents also help collect rent and show vacancies to potential tenants.

Custodians are janitors or cleaning workers who typically maintain institutional facilities, such as public schools and hospitals.

Work Environment

Most janitors and building cleaners work indoors, but some work outdoors part of the time, sweeping walkways, mowing lawns, and shoveling snow. They spend most of the day walking, standing, or bending while cleaning. Sometimes they must 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, can be dirty and unpleasant.

How to become a Janitor and/or Building Cleaner

Most janitors and building cleaners learn on the job. Formal education is not required.

Janitors and building cleaners do not need any formal educational credential. However, high school courses in shop can be helpful for jobs involving repair work.

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 tools. On the job, they also learn how to repair minor electrical and plumbing problems.


The median hourly wage for janitors and building cleaners was $13.19 in May 2019. 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 $9.43, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.58.

Job Outlook

Employment of janitors and building cleaners is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

These workers are essential to the upkeep of building interiors. Their services will be needed to meet the continued demand for clean spaces.

Many new jobs are expected in industries such as administrative and support services, educational services, and healthcare.

Similar Job Titles

Building Custodian, Building Service Worker, Building Services Technician, Cleaner, Custodial Worker, Custodian, Floor Tech (Floor Technician), Heavy Duty Custodian, Institutional Custodian, Janitor

Related Occupations

Food Preparation Worker, Food Server-Non-restaurant, Dishwasher, Maids and Housekeeping cleaners, Helper-Painter/Paperhanger/Plasterer/Stucco Mason

More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.

Magazines and Publications

Cleaning and Maintenance Magazine

Services Magazine

Sanitary Maintenance Magazine

Video Transcript

Whether it’s a billion-dollar company or a world-renowned hospital, facilities must be clean and functional for organizations to get their work done. Janitors and building cleaners keep many types of buildings clean, orderly, and in good condition. Janitors and building cleaners use a variety of manual and mechanical tools in their work. Some have a range of duties beyond cleaning; they may work outdoors… mowing lawns, sweeping walkways, and removing snow… and monitor a building’s heating and cooling systems to ensure they function properly. Some make minor electrical and plumbing repairs. They have different job titles in some facilities: Building superintendents maintain residential buildings, and may help collect rent and show vacancies to potential tenants. Custodians maintain institutions such as public schools and hospitals. Janitors spend the day walking, standing, or bending and may need to move heavy supplies and equipment. Since they have an above average rate of injuries and illnesses, workers are increasingly required to undergo safety training. Minor cuts, bruises, and burns are common. Most janitors work full time. Because office buildings are usually cleaned after office hours, many cleaners work evenings. Janitors in schools usually work during the day. When there is a need for 24-hour maintenance, as there often is in hospitals and hotels, janitors work in shifts.

Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH httpss://www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop httpss://www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online httpss://www.onetonline.org