America's school systems employ 354,550 janitors and custodians as of May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making primary and secondary educational services the industry that employs the second highest number of janitorial staff. Colleges and universities employ another 78,010 workers in the position, the sector with the fourth-highest number of janitors. Those employed by the education industries tend to make higher salaries than average for custodial positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average Primary and Secondary School Janitor Salary
Janitors and custodians employed by school districts in elementary and secondary schools earn an average hourly wage of $12.82 as of May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. The average annual earnings, including overtime, for school janitorial staff is $26,670. Half of all these custodians earn hourly wages earn between $10.04 and $16.48, although the highest 10 percent earn $20.03 per hour or more.
Average College Janitor Salary
Janitors who work for college and universities earn slightly less than their counterparts in primary and secondary education. The average hourly wage for these janitors is $12.15 as of May 2009, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, with average annual earnings of $25,270. Half of all college janitors’ wages were between $10.02 and $15.08 per hour, with the best paid 10 percent earning $18.28 or more per hour.
Comparison to Other Industries
Although school systems and colleges employ a vast number of janitorial staff, they typically don’t offer the best wages for the position. Janitors employed by the United States Postal Service receive the best janitorial wage in the nation, and earn $23.18 per hour on average. School janitors’ average hourly wage is 58 percent of this rate. Janitors in the automobile and parts manufacturing plants, rail transportation and telecommunications industries earn higher salaries than school janitors. School janitors earn slightly more per hour than janitors who work in hospitals and physicians’ offices, who earn $12.26 hourly.
School janitors may face significant differences in their paychecks depending upon the city in which they live, with average annual salaries varying by nearly 50 percent between different metropolitan areas. Janitors who work in schools in Boston and New York City earn the highest average annual salaries of $34,921 and $33,111, respectively, as of December 2010, according to Salary Expert. Those in Houston earn the smallest average annual salaries, $22,683.