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Custodians are responsible for keeping buildings clean and in an orderly condition. They have to perform heavy cleaning duties, such as washing walls and windows, shampooing rugs, cleaning floors, removing rubbish and performing routine maintenance activities. Custodians also have to notify management of repairs needed, tend to furnaces and boilers and clean snow and other debris from sidewalks.
The duties required of a custodian include replenishing stock in bathrooms, cleaning restrooms, gathering and emptying trash, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, monitoring building safety and security and dusting. Keeping the school as clean and tidy as possible is the overall responsibility of a custodian. They should be prepared to do things like moving heavy furniture to reach corners, cracks and crevices of covered parts of the room. They may have to clean laboratory equipment, such as computers and tables, mow and trim lawns and clean chimneys, flues and pipes with the use of power tools.
The skills required to become a custodian include reading comprehension skills, coordination skills, oral comprehension skills and equipment selection skills. It is important to be able to read instructions for cleaning certain surfaces and fixtures. It is also important to have oral comprehension skills to be able to follow verbal cleaning instructions. Equipment selection skills are useful in selecting the proper tools for each cleaning surface and fixture. It is also helpful to have manual dexterity, flexibility and trunk strength when moving heavy furniture and lifting and arranging things.
There aren’t any special education requirements to become a custodian or janitor. However, when applying for a custodial position, you should know basic arithmetic and you should be able to follow basic instructions. Most custodians learn their work on the job and as more experience is gained, more complex tasks can be assigned. Some cities offer government-run programs that tech janitorial skills. In classes like these, students learn how to clean thoroughly and efficiently, how to safely use cleaning agents and how to operate and maintain cleaning equipment, such as wet and dry vacuums, polishers and buffers.
Many custodians and janitors work evening hours to clean while buildings are empty, however, custodians working in schools work during the day. Most full-time custodians work 40 hours per week and part-time cleaners work evenings and weekends. Custodians usually work in well-lit, heated buildings, but they may also have to work outdoors. Custodians are susceptible to bruises and burns from the tools and equipment and chemicals they use on a daily basis. Most of their time is spent on their feet, pushing and lifting heavy items. They may work around lots of noise, from loud rambunctious students to noisy machines and bending, stooping and stretching may be required for certain tasks.
Custodians made an average annual salary of $18,790 in 2004, according to MyPlan.com, but salaries vary from location to location.
Shanea Patterson has been freelance writing professionally since 2006. Her writing interests include travel writing, occupational writing and fiction. She has been published in "InTravel Magazine" and "WAVE Journey Magazine." She also writes for "Inspire Us Magazine." Patterson is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mercy College.