Cleaning jobs don’t usually have any particular educational requirement, not even a high school diploma. A new cleaner typically starts out helping an experienced worker and learns on the job. Hospitals are the second-largest employers of cleaning personnel, after traveler accommodation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hospital cleaners need the same skills as those in other institutions, but with some special additions.
Hospital cleaners need the ability to perform general housekeeping tasks, such as cleaning the rooms, hallways, offices and public areas, emptying trash, changing linens and making beds. They need to know how to dust and polish furniture and use vacuum cleaners and floor waxing equipment.
Safety and Sanitation
A hospital environment requires special attention to safety and sanitation. Hospital cleaners need to understand and apply safe methods of handling equipment and chemicals. They need the ability to follow hospital procedures carefully, for example in washing down and sanitizing furniture and equipment. Attention to detail is especially important in the hospital environment. Because patients may not be able to notice problems, hospital cleaners must be alert to dangers and report them. For example, they may need to report a broken bed rail.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills
A hospital cleaner has an especially strong need for interpersonal skills to work well with supervisors, other staff, visitors and patients. They need to communicate compassionately with patients who may be in pain or depressed. They must show consideration by adjusting their work to patient needs. They need English language skills to understand written and oral instructions and explain problems to supervisors or staff. They must read labels, make notes and keep records as required by hospital procedures.
Hospital cleaners need to be in good physical condition and have stamina, although employers may make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. They spend most of the workday on their feet while cleaning, pushing equipment and moving furniture. They need the strength and flexibility to kneel, crawl, stoop or bend and the manual dexterity to open containers and use cleaning tools. A typical hospital cleaning job requires the ability to lift 30 pounds. Cleaners also need good vision to see what they are doing and to read cleaning product labels and equipment controls.
Hospital cleaners need especially strong organizational skills to put their tasks in order and accomplish them efficiently. For example, if doctors are in the room performing a procedure on a patient, they may need to delay cleaning that room until later. They need the ability to complete their daily work on time even if they are often interrupted by medical staff, patients, visitors or emergencies. Organizational skills are also necessary to store the cleaning equipment and supplies properly and maintain the storage closets in good order.
Hospital cleaners averaged $11.68 per hour or $24,300 for a full-time year in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS predicts that cleaning jobs in all industries will increase by eight percent between 2010 and 2020, compared to 14 percent on average for all jobs. However, prospects will be good for new workers because of the many cleaners who leave.