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How to Become a Janitor or Building Cleaner

Most janitors and building cleaning workers learn on the job. They do not need formal education.

Education and Training

Most janitors and building cleaners learn on the job. Beginners typically work with a more experienced janitor or cleaner, learning how to use and maintain machines, such as wet-and-dry vacuums and floor buffers and polishers. They may also learn on the job how to repair minor problems with the electricity or plumbing.

Janitors and building cleaners should be able to do simple arithmetic and follow instructions. High school shop courses are generally helpful for jobs involving repair work.


Although not required, certification is available through the Building Service Contractors Association International and the International Sanitary Supply Association. Certification demonstrates competence and may make applicants more appealing to employers.

Important Qualities

Interpersonal skills. Janitors and building cleaners must get along well with other cleaners, the people who live or work in the buildings they clean, and their supervisors.

Mechanical skills. Janitors and building cleaners should understand general building operations. They should be able to make routine repairs, such as changing light bulbs and repairing leaky faucets. 

Physical strength. Janitors and building cleaners should be able to lift and move cleaning materials and heavy equipment. Cases of liquid cleaner are often very heavy, so workers should be able to lift them without injuring their back.

Stamina. Janitors and building cleaners should be able to spend most of their time on their feet—lifting or moving supplies or equipment and tools—without tiring.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition