Cleaner Careers

For those interested in being part of the UKs estimated £5.6b industry, then you may want to become a cleaner, giving you peace of mind that there’s always going to be work available. The workforce is estimated to employ between 800’000 to 1 million people in the cleaning sector, accounting for around 3% of the countries workforce. As a cleaner, you are going to need to be in good health, as the work can be physically demanding.

Become a Cleaner

Once you become a cleaner, you can find jobs in a variety of sectors, including:

  • Construction – cleaning up new build homes
  • Public transport cleaning
  • Food halls and restaurants
  • Window cleaning
  • Roads and sidewalks
  • Carpets and upholstery cleaning services
  • Domestic cleaning

Most cleaning contractor companies are small and employ an average of 10 people. Vacancies are full and part time, and extremely flexible. For part-time cleaners, who want to earn a little extra, there’s plenty of opportunities to find some small cleaning jobs for an extra few hours a week. Full-time you’ll be working 35-40 hours per week, with part-time being anywhere from 8 hours a week, through to 25 hours a week. To broaden your employment opportunities, there are qualifications you can work towards, although most cleaning jobs will provide in-house training with no formal entry-requirements needed.

Cleaner Training

It’s possible for anyone to become a cleaner, as the company employing you will provide the training when you first start your job.

There are cleaner training courses available, which will help you to progress in your career onto supervisory roles, or even managerial positions. The great thing about this career is that there’s always going to be work available. The downside is that it can be physically demanding, so cleaning until your retirement age, probably won’t be your ideal occupation.

Cleaner Training

Progressing onto supervisory and management in cleaning services though, is how you can make a career in the cleaning industry, working until you’re ready to retire, relax and enjoy life without the daily grind.

To progress though, you will need to go through some training courses for cleaners, to further your career in the industry.

Your first certificate will usually be gained when you start your first cleaning job. That will be done with on-the-job training.

While it isn’t every employer that will put you through certificated training, you will be taught the safe use of any equipment you’ll be working with, and given specific training relating to health and safety.

The vast majority of employers usually ask their cleaning staff to work towards either a…

Cleaning and Support Services NVQ at Level 1 or Level 2

This is the most popular qualification you’ll find the industry offers. It’s offered through the City and Guilds body, which gives you a nationally recognised training certificate. The training is done on site, and the award is gained after you have an assessment done on your work.

The assessments are done with minimal disruption to your normal work routines, as they’re based on the work you do on the job. Level one is your introductory course, and assessed on the work you do. As you progress onto higher-level NVQ training courses, there will be some written work involved, but the most influential area is that you’re capable of working safely. You’ll be assessed on the safe use of equipment, as well as using the appropriate cleaning products, for different cleaning jobs.

You will also need to be know how to store all products safely and use them safely too. They’re mainly used for ensuring cleaners are aware of the health and safety regulations, and safety in the workplace.

The NVQ Level 1 in Cleaning and Support Services is the most common certificate for cleaners.

Further Cleaner Training Qualifications

  • Cleaning Operators Proficiency Certificate – (COPC)
  • Food Premises Cleaning Certificate (FPCC)

Both these certificates are awarded through the British Institute of Cleaning Science. (BICSc) Both the COP and the FPC Certificates are best for specialist cleaning qualifications. The courses cover three fundamental aspects, which include:

  1. Chemical competence
  2. Safe use of equipment and proper care for maintaining the equipment you’ll be using
  3. Storage of equipment and cleaning materials

The COPC course teaches you the components of a variety of cleaning services, including domestic cleaning, safe use of equipment, as well as covering the safe use of hazardous materials, making it more suitable for those interested in more specialist cleaning jobs, rather than general cleaning and housekeeping duties. This qualification can set you apart from others in the sector.

More suitable for graffiti removal services, crime scene cleaning, and domestic cleaners for hospitals where hygiene is critical.

The FPCC training will help you specialise in the catering industry, as you’ll be trained in the safe cleaning of commercial cooking equipment, as well as specialist areas such as effective cleaning for refrigeration units and cold rooms, ensuring that you’re cleaning to a high standard for the prevention of bacteria, in all areas of a food outlet.

Higher Level NVQ in Cleaning is also available for those looking for training to help with career progression, to become a cleaning supervisor or managerial positions.

Cleaning Jobs

A cleaner can be two types of jobs. It can be a gap job for some, while they seek employment in a different sector, while for others who enjoy the fruits of their labour, and seeing their work areas go from dirty to clean, smelling gorgeous of scented cleaning products, it can be a full-time career you thrive on.

Cleaner Jobs

Speaking of scented products, there are some cleaners who love the scents so much, they’re work is they’re aromatherapy for them. For those who want to pursue cleaner jobs as a career, rather than a filler job, when you’re between jobs, you’ll find it much easier to stay in the job, rather than working with temporary assignments repeatedly. Employers will offer on the job training when you first start out, although for the most part, you’ll normally be asked to work towards some sort of cleaning qualifications.

The most popular being the Level 1 NVQ in Cleaning and Support Services. This ensures you’re knowledgeable on the safe use of products, as well as health and safety.

When positions are filled with personnel only looking for a short-term job, whilst pursuing other career avenues, it puts employers back to square one, seeking to fill more cleaner jobs, and putting the new staff through training again. It’s an inconvenience, and given the costs of recruitment, you will do better with an approach for a permanent position, working towards building your CV with jobs in cleaning services, and not with a variety of unskilled work, in different areas, often seen in resumes for these positions.

That’s one important thing to consider when applying for cleaner jobs. Expressing your interest to become a cleaner, highlighting your passion for the field. If you enjoy cleaning, companies will hire you. It’s better for an employer to have someone who loves the job they do, do great job at doing it, and maybe whistle while they mop, dust, or put a shine on the canteen surfaces.

Some types of cleaner jobs to look for

Industrial cleaner

Industrial cleaner jobs are found in hospitals, schools (janitor), office building, retail outlets, factories, and warehouse facilities. In this field, you’ll be working to maintain hygiene of staff and the public, so it is a highly responsible job and more so in hospital facilities. You will need trained on the use of specialist equipment you’ll be using. Due to size of the premises you’ll be cleaning, the mop isn’t an option. Instead, you’ll be using a machine to buff the floors.


Just as you do in your own home, there are jobs available cleaning other people’s homes. In the residential cleaning profession, you’ll need to establish trust with your customers. You’ll often work alone, as customers will leave a key with you, or the company employing you, then you’ll go in and see that the house is clean for them returning. Most cleaning jobs for this type of work are offered through a franchise cleaning company, although, there are plenty of people make a good career doing this on a self-employed basis. The local shop window is often the best place to find people looking for a domestic housekeeping assistant to help them out with their cleaning chores, either daily or weekly, or even just some help with the ironing.

Chambermaids or room attendants

This is where there’s a bounty of jobs available. The larger a hotel is – the more cleaner jobs there are. In this line of work, you’ll be working as part of a team, ensuring every room is spotless, dirty linen removed and replaced with clean items. Mirrors will be polished, carpets vacuumed, and amenities cleaned every day. The work is demanding in the hotel sector, as you’ll be working to a schedule, ensuring that rooms are cleaned thoroughly, with minimum disruption to the guests.

Kitchen porter

As a kitchen porter, you’ll be responsible for keeping the kitchen area of restaurants clean and tidy. Health and hygiene is extremely important in this line of work. You may need to hand wash some cooking equipment, and operate the dishwasher, while always striving to maintain the highest level of hygiene standards. Due to the importance of your services, it’s often preferred that you have experience in a similar role.

Starting out with bar back jobs

This is often used as an entry-level position to become a bar attendant, as you’ll be responsible for ensuring all the stock is replenished, so the bar doesn’t run dry. Other duties will include glass collecting, washing the glasses, the floors, cleaning spillages, the bar itself, and the toilet facilities.

Bar back jobs are usually in larger bars though. Smaller local bars won’t advertise the vacancies, due to financial reasons.

However, taking a direct approach, and offering your assistance to clean the bar on a Saturday and Sunday morning before opening will let you earn a little, but more importantly, it’ll serve as great experience when you apply for cleaner jobs, with the training provided, and then work towards getting your first NVQ in Cleaning, or progress onto higher level training courses.