What does a housekeeper do?

The two major areas where housekeepers work are inside homes and commercial lodgings such as hotels and inns. Businesses such as stadiums, retail stores, and veterinary offices utilize either a cleaning crew or a housekeeper to keep their establishments clean and ready for clients. Keeping a high standard of safety and a clutter-free environment means that you have a greater responsibility than mere cleanliness. Your duties will vary depending on where you work and your employer's specific desires, but your overall responsibilities as a housekeeper will be consistent.  

- Perform cleaning operations of the grounds in designated areas and in an efficient and timely fashion. 

- Clean a building or room to the standards of a resident, manager, or business owner. 

- Organize belongings, clear clutter, and account for stray items. 

- Alert the person in charge of the facilities of any hazardous materials or fixtures.  

- Tidy up, including making the bed, doing laundry, dusting furniture surfaces, or sweeping hardwood floors. 

- Make a space look warm and welcoming, and keep up the brand of the facilities.

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What is the average salary of a housekeeper?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, your average salary as a housekeeper or maid will be $14.22 per hour, which works out to an annual pay rate of $29,580. Your salary depends on your location, the industry you work for, and your ability to earn tips. Wages tend to be higher on the West Coast and in the Northeast, and lowest in the deep South. Your salary will be significantly higher in performing arts and clinics than in hotels. You also have the potential to make a higher salary working in private homes where the average annual pay rate is $33,995. Pay raises are commensurate with experience, although training is available for housekeeping and can jumpstart wage increases. 

Increase your salary through extra training 

As with many jobs, entry-level housekeeping seems to place a cap on your pay rate. However, you can enhance your chances of acquiring a top salary if you are willing to undergo extra training.  Some advanced programs will also fast-track your qualification for leadership roles.

Ways to increase your salary other than education 

Housekeepers tend to earn more as they work through the years. However, you can bring in higher paydays by other means than experience or even special training. The single area that brings you the highest pay rates is customer service. Being able to relate to your employer's clients and keep them satisfied with your cleaning services makes you an indispensable commodity. Any way that you stand out from your colleagues is another way in which you will garner higher wages. Taking the initiative to assist and train your teammates is yet another way to draw positive attention and encourage a pay increase. Finally, job performance plays a huge part in decisions to offer promotions and pay raises. For a housekeeper, a job well done requires thoroughness and speed or efficiency. Even if you do not secure a raise immediately, you may impress clients enough that they give you better tips.


Working as a housekeeper

Expect to work hard as a housekeeper, but the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment you achieve are immeasurable. Here you will learn about responsibilities, the equipment you will need, the atmosphere you will encounter, and your colleagues. 

What are the responsibilities of a housekeeper? 

Depending on your industry, your responsibilities can be numerous.  

  • At a lodging facility, you will make the bed, possibly wash the sheets, straighten and clean the counters and tabletops, vacuum and mop the floors, and replace towels and toiletries. 
  • You will use either company supplies or your chemicals that are safe and effective. 
  • Some housekeepers exterminate insect pests or report nuisance critters. 
  • You will sanitize bedding and clothes and disinfect surfaces. 
  • Supervising housekeepers perform quality control on the work of others and train new housekeepers. 
  • Evaluate the interior decor if your employer expects this. 

What type of equipment do housekeepers use? 

If you work for a facility, you will often use equipment that the business prescribes. Other times, you are responsible for coming to a job already equipped. The following equipment is vital for housekeepers: 

  • Dish towels to wipe down dishes or countertops 
  • Toothbrush to clean crevices, cracks, and other tiny spaces 
  • Scrubbing sponges with a non-scratch side and an abrasive one
  • Soap, an all-around cleaner that is safe for many surfaces 
  • Cleaning and polishing products for disinfecting polishing surfaces like wood and leather 
  • Glass cleaners for windows and mirrors 
  • Squeegees for cleaning windows or showers 
  • A bucket for carrying supplies and making cleaning solutions such as for mop water or sanitizing kennels in a veterinary clinic 
  • Equipment for floors: broom, dustpan, vacuum, and mop 
  • Scrub brushes for areas like floor corners or the stove 
  • Microfiber cloths for dusting or cleaning delicate surfaces that require little or no soap 
  • Spray bottles to conveniently dispense cleaning solutions or water 

What is the work environment of a housekeeper? 

As a housekeeper, you will work mostly indoors. You won't have the option to work remotely since housekeeping is a hands-on job. However, as a housekeeping supervisor or executive, you will find a few work-from-home or hybrid opportunities. With technological advances, subordinates can easily help you achieve quality control via video coverage on their phones. In some cases, you go on-site only a few times a week or month. Most of the time, you work in a climate-controlled setting. Some warehouses and other businesses, however, are indoors but poorly heated, ventilated, or cooled. 

Housekeeping is refreshing if you like the potential to travel such as to different homes or various hospitals. Even moving from one room to the next in a hotel provides a change of scenery if you do not want to be tied to a desk or an office. Housekeeping duties require you to be strong and to have the stamina to walk, bend down, and reach above your head for long hours. Your productivity will likely be inspiring and gratifying. 

Who are your colleagues as a housekeeper? 

You will cooperate with various other workers depending on your industry. If you work in a clinic, you coordinate your tasks with nurses, medical assistants, or veterinary technicians. In other areas, you work closely with customer service associates, and you may even be lucky enough to have a janitorial staff alongside you and your teammates. 

What is the work schedule of a housekeeper? 

In the public sector, housekeepers usually work eight-hour days. Many start their jobs at dawn and leave in the early afternoon. For certain facilities, employers will expect you to work overnight because it is after hours for them. You may get one or two days off a week, but the job is generally ongoing and requires someone to be working every day. Many facilities, such as hotels, hospitals, and studios, have several shifts in a day to ensure they fulfill all of their housekeeping obligations. In the private sector, you have more flexibility, specifically if you run your own business. You have the leeway to work longer or shorter hours or choose your days. If employed, you likely will have quotas that take up much of the day.  Part-time housekeeping jobs are available whereby you only work a few days a week. Understaffing in this field can lengthen the hours you work in a day.


What is the career outlook for a housekeeper?

There will always be a need for housekeepers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for housekeepers will only increase. However, companies seem to be getting by with fewer housekeepers, showing a decline in their hiring rate despite a rapid industry-wide growth rate. You can attribute some of this to automation through the use of robots. If you can take advantage of such innovation through education, it can help you stand apart from your colleagues and grab some elusive opportunities. You can also advance in housekeeping through leadership roles within the field or by seeking related careers as a customer relations manager, a cruise ship steward, a butler, or a hospitality coordinator. Another option is to start your own housekeeping business. Housekeepers either already possess or pick up a lot of skills to boost their resumes for future jobs or help them be more successful in their current positions. These include: 

  • Organizational skills that apply to items, time, and space 
  • Taking the initiative to get things accomplished and help others 
  • Being persistent and willing to make an extra effort to execute a plan 
  • Being people-oriented and developing excellent business skills 
  • Paying great attention to details 
  • Handling stress and disruptions with a calm and level-headed demeanor 

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a housekeeper? 

When you search for a job, Spherion takes much of the stress and worry of finding a good match away. We will match you with a housekeeping job that best fits your skill set and your vision for your future. 

One of the big advantages of Spherion is that we have connections with various businesses. We can pair you with a small private outfit or a large and bustling major operation. All you have to do is list your attributes and figure out your working style. Our networking recruiters will take care of the rest. 

Just a few of the benefits Spherion offers are: 

  • Flexible hours 
  • Simplified and quick interviewing 
  • Weekly paychecks 
  • Opportunities for formal training 
  • Plenty of support from a personal assistant to answer your questions and help you find a job

What education do you need as a housekeeper?

You only need a high school diploma or GED to qualify for most housekeeper jobs. Further education gives you credentials to successfully apply for higher pay and promotions within the field if you choose. You also have the flexibility to serve in related fields. An advanced curriculum, such as one offered by the International Sanitary Supply Association, provides the means to educate and certify housekeepers in cleaning to the highest reasonable standards. You can receive ISSA certifications as a custodial technician, supervisor, training professional, or executive, all of which increase your value to your company. 

However, you do not have to limit yourself to formal education. When you attend seminars or conferences, you can market your skills and better argue your case for increased pay. 

Finally, you also enhance your marketability as a housekeeper by honing skills such as business and leadership through college courses.

Skills and competencies

Housekeepers need a specific skill set that they naturally have or quickly acquire with experience.

  • Attention to detail and organizational skills are paramount 
  • Time management skills are a must 
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills come in handy
  • Strength and endurance to work long hours with light lifting is necessary
  • The ability to adjust is useful to deal with stress and changing circumstances




Housekeepers are key to the efficient operation, cleanliness, and safety of homes and businesses across the country. Learn the answers to commonly asked questions about becoming a housekeeper.

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