How Do I Become a Janitor?

Dan Cavallari

It is not difficult to become a janitor, and it is usually not necessary to obtain a certain level of education. A high school diploma or equivalent will make you a more attractive job candidate, though it is often unnecessary in. You will need to be prepared to work long hours, and you will be doing a lot of physical labor in most cases. Be ready to be on your feet for most of the day, and also to deal with messy situations that you will be responsible for cleaning.

Janitors are charged with maintaining a property.
Janitors are charged with maintaining a property.

There are two general ways you can become a janitor: you can apply for a job at a cleaning service, or you can apply individually at various businesses or other locations in need of custodial services. If you get a job with a cleaning service, you will likely end up working at various buildings and businesses rather than just one. If you apply on your own, you are likely to become a janitor for one building or business only, though this is not guaranteed. Search the local newspaper for job listings, and look online on message boards for jobs that will allow you to become a janitor.

Janitors may be responsible for working on electrical appliances.
Janitors may be responsible for working on electrical appliances.

Great places to look for work is at colleges, universities, large companies, warehouses, factories, hotels, and tourist attractions such as theme parks and movie theaters. In many cases, these businesses will hire cleaning services, though it is likely that you will find several businesses that would prefer an on-site janitor. High schools and elementary schools may also have janitor positions open, though you should be prepared to undergo a background check if you want to work in a school. Schools may also require you to get fingerprint clearance that will be kept on file at the school at all times.

Schools require janitors to be fingerprinted before employment.
Schools require janitors to be fingerprinted before employment.

A good way to make yourself more attractive as a candidate to become a janitor is to develop skills that will be useful to a business. If, for example, you know how to repair furnaces, or if you can work on plumbing and electrical appliances, an employer is more likely to hire you for a janitor position. Additional skills may also help you work your way up within the system, eventually obtaining jobs with more responsibility and better pay. Some janitors can become custodial managers, which means they are responsible for managing a team of janitors.

Janitorial work primarily consists of physical labor, requiring workers to be in good physical health.
Janitorial work primarily consists of physical labor, requiring workers to be in good physical health.

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Discussion Comments


To the other posters:

As a full-time school janitor, I believe that the importance of clean, healthy buildings is far too often overlooked. Janitorial work is actually a job in healthcare. What is the purpose of cleaning? Primarily to prevent the spread of disease. The image of the janitorial worker really needs to be lifted up as an essential function in our society.

There is an attitude out there that "it's just cleaning" -- that any fool can swing a mop and get it clean. But it's important to look at what's really happening. Many traditional cleaning tools, such as cotton mops and rags, actually spread around the dirt and germs. What happens so often is a lot of hard work, with poor results to show for it.

Ever walk into a restroom with that nose-burning ammonia smell? Don't necessarily blame the janitor. Blame the tools he was given to clean. Blame the penny-pinching attitude of managers or administrators that places cleaning on the bottom rung of importance. Your average janitor is often given no education in cleaning science, pressed for time, and poorly equipped with outdated tools.

Thankfully, the cleaning industry is moving towards a more scientific approach to cleaning and measuring the results, and there exist various certifications, such as CIMS. The status quo of the unskilled mop slinger is gradually making way to professional cleaners who are knowledgeable in areas such as chemistry, effective soil removal, indoor air quality, and infection control.

Ken the Janitor, and proud of it!


Sometimes, the jobs we have might not be the most fulfilling, but they can always be a nice placeholder while we're looking for something better. Always seize the opportunities you have, because you never know if it could be your last chance or not.


@RoyalSpyder - I understand where you're coming from. Though it was only in the summer, last year, I worked as a janitor at an old college that I used to go to. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't too thrilling of a job. However, I honestly feel that I enjoyed my position better because it was only for the summer. Would I want to work as a janitor full-time? No, of course not. But it kept me occupied, and I earned a decent amount of money.


In my opinion, you should only become a janitor if you're desperately looking for a job, or have nothing better to do during the summer. I'm not saying that being a janitor is a bad job, but on the other hand, it can be very rough around the edges.

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