Housekeeper Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a housekeeper career? Get real job descriptions, outlook and salary info to see if becoming a housekeeper is right for you.
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A Housekeeper Career: Pros and Cons

Housekeepers perform light cleaning for hotels, households and businesses. Consider the following pros and cons of a career in housekeeping.

Pros of a Housekeeper Career
Many positions offer the flexibility of working either part-time or full-time*
Most housekeeping jobs require no formal education and workers are trained on-the-job*
You have the option to become a self-employed housekeeper. About 168,000 housekeepers were self-employed in 2012*
Plentiful job openings because of housekeepers who retire or move on to other professions*

Cons of a Housekeeper Career
Some of the job tasks, such as picking up garbage and cleaning bathrooms, can be disagreeable*
Housekeepers are prone to injury from cleaning machines, chemicals and heavy lifting*
Housekeepers make relatively low wages. In 2014, housekeepers made an average salary of around $22,500, which equals about $10.82 an hour*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Profile

Housekeepers working in private households vacuum, dust, mop floors and clean items in the kitchen and bathroom. Some private housekeepers also wash laundry, make beds, clean dishes and polish silverware. Hotel housekeepers clean and maintain the guestrooms and the hotel's common areas. Other businesses that often require housekeepers include offices, schools and hospitals. Housekeepers working in hospitals may be required to have specialized training.

Job Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of building cleaners would grow on par with the average growth for all other occupations, about 13% growth for the decade spanning 2012 to 2022. You may find it easy to secure a position as a housekeeper as other housekeepers retire or leave the profession. Unlike some other industries, advances in technology that improve efficiency or make positions obsolete typically do not affect housekeeping. This means that a loss of jobs isn't likely.

Salary

In 2014, housekeepers made an average wage of $10.82 an hour, or $22,500 annually, according to the BLS. Those working in hotels and other types of travel lodgings averaged $22,260 a year, while housekeepers who worked in hospitals earned slightly more at $25,260. Housekeepers in nursing homes earned $21,700 and those working in elderly care facilities averaged $21,650.

Career Skills and Requirements

Housekeepers must be able to perform the physical activities required for the job. This includes standing and walking for several hours, lifting mattresses and moving furniture. You must be able to pay attention to detail in this position. You should be able to recognize and clean spots, stains and dust. Some housekeeping jobs require you to know how to operate machines, such as vacuum cleaners and floor polishers. Hospital cleaners may need special training on sterilization and disinfectant requirements.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers look for friendly, dependable and competent housekeepers. Some employers insist upon previous experience and a few require employees to have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. To give you an idea of what employers look for, here are some listings from March 2012 found on a national job board website:

  • A senior living community in Georgia advertised for a housekeeper with a positive attitude and the ability to maintain HIPPA standards. The employer required applicants to have a high school diploma and janitorial certification.
  • In Pennsylvania, a hotel was looking for a housekeeper to work weekends, making beds, cleaning bathrooms and straightening desks. Requirements included previous experience, friendliness and dependability.
  • A Florida healthcare rehabilitation center wanted a housekeeper to dust, do laundry and buff the floor. Qualifications included dependability, the ability to lift heavy objects and customer service skills.
  • A college in South Carolina advertised for a housekeeper to perform superior cleaning and housekeeping. The employer wanted someone with a high school diploma or GED and two or more years housekeeping experience.
  • A nursing facility in Pennsylvania needed a housekeeper to provide elderly patients with compassionate cleaning care on nights, weekends and holidays. Applicants had to pass a criminal background check.
  • In Kentucky, a private home was looking for a housekeeper to light clean, deep clean and keep the home organized. Job candidates were required to be motivated, non-smokers with a valid driver's license and the ability to work around pets.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

You should demonstrate a positive and respectful attitude for the people you work around, which may include your private employer, hotel guests or hospital patients. Employers look for workers who are dependable enough to count on and healthy enough for the physical demands of the work. To boost your resume, you can also take some classes in hospital sanitation and janitorial technology.

Certifications

If you want to work for high income employers, you may want to obtain an executive housekeeper certification. The International Executive Housekeepers Association offers official certification for high level and executive housekeepers. Certified Executive Housekeepers (CEH) must complete a certificate program or hold an associate degree and complete an examination every three years. Registered Executive Housekeepers (REH) must hold a bachelor of science or arts from an accredited institution, pass an examination every three years and submit 30 hours of continued education every three years.

Alternative Fields

Dishwasher

Dishwashers work in restaurants and hotels, cleaning dishes and scrubbing cooking equipment. Dishwashers often work part-time, at night and past the closing of the restaurant. There is little to no educational requirements. The BLS projected average job growth and excellent career prospects for the food industry as a whole for the 2010 to 2020 decade. In 2011, dishwashers made a median annual income of $18,840, which is about $9.00 an hour.

Grounds Maintenance Worker

Grounds maintenance workers maintain the outdoor environment for businesses and institutions. They care for the lawn, garden and trim bushes and trees. Grounds maintenance requires little to no formal education, but on-the-job training may be extensive. The BLS projected that employment of grounds maintenance workers would grow much faster than average, about 20% during the decade spanning 2010 to 2020. According to the BLS, the median annual income for grounds workers was $29,270in 2011, which is slightly over $14.00 an hour.

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