Custodians, also called janitors, keep buildings clean and in good condition.
On a typical day, a janitor may sweep and mop floors, vacuum carpets, dust,
wash windows, make minor repairs or exterminate insects or rodents.
"We do everything," says janitor Rhoda Dunbar. "We wash walls, wax floors,
dust window ledges, clean out fridges. If it needs cleaning, we do it."
Some janitors only clean, while others have broader duties -- fixing leaky
faucets, painting, minor carpentry repairs, mowing lawns or shoveling snow.
Custodians work in schools, offices, apartment buildings, recreational
facilities, shopping malls, hotels, motels and hospitals. Those who work in
hospitals may wash bed frames, brush mattresses, make beds, and disinfect
and sterilize equipment and supplies.
Many custodians work in the evening so they don't interfere with the regular
business hours of the building they clean. However, janitors at schools and
at hospitals work during the day. Those in buildings that require 24-hour
cleaning are assigned different shifts during the day and night.
This is a physical job. Custodians spend most of their time on their feet,
sometimes lifting or pushing heavy furniture or equipment. They often have
to stoop, bend and stretch to sweep and dust. "You have to be physically fit
to do this work," says Art Simmer, a janitor in Florida.
They can get minor cuts, scratches and burns while working, and some of
their tasks such as cleaning bathrooms or emptying trash cans can be unpleasant.
"It's very hard work," says Dunbar. "It doesn't really matter if you're doing
light or heavy-duty work -- it's all hard."
Custodians should pay attention to detail. "People expect what they pay
for," says Dunbar. "You have to look under every desk and on every ledge to
make sure everything's clean."
Want a quick overview of what
this career is about? Check out
Just the Facts for simple lists
Keep offices, schools and other buildings clean
Watch a one-minute video showing what it's like to work in this career or related careers
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners
Note: This movie requires QuickTime.