Caretakers are responsible for maintaining buildings and grounds. A caretaker will check that everything within the building is working effectively and efficiently. If there is a small problem, the caretaker will fix it; but if there is a bigger issue, such as an electrical or heating fault, the caretaker will organise for the appropriate person to come and repair it.
Every day will be different, but duties are likely to include:
Caretakers often work in schools, so some of the time is spent making sure that rooms are set up to suit the activity that the space is used for, e.g. dining, taking exams or parents' evenings.
Caretakers are sometimes responsible for the security of premises. This may involve monitoring closed circuit television (CCTV) and other surveillance equipment to guard against vandalism or break-ins. They may need to report some incidents to the police.
Caretakers may take on responsibilities such as the management of cleaning staff, ordering and maintaining stocks of products that are used regularly, and ordering furniture and equipment.
Other tasks may include:
Caretakers usually work 37 hours a week, which may include early mornings, evenings and weekends. However, some work longer hours and may be on call 24 hours a day.
Part-time work may be available.
Caretakers work both indoors and outdoors. In some cases, caretakers live on the premises in purpose-built accommodation. Others, e.g. school caretakers, often choose to live close to their place of work, so it is possible to get there at short notice.
Caretakers spend a lot of their time on their feet, bending, lifting and often climbing stairs or ladders. For some jobs, protective clothing is worn, such as gloves, overalls and goggles.
Some local authorities employ mobile caretakers who look after a number of different sites using a specially equipped van. Mobile caretakers need a full, clean driving licence.
To work in schools, caretakers will need to undergo Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) .
Assistant caretakers may earn around £11,000 a year. Experienced caretakers may earn around £16,000 a year and senior and mobile caretakers may earn £25,000 a year.
There may be additional payments for working shifts and overtime. If accommodation is provided with the job, the salary may be lower.
There are around 72,660 caretakers in the UK. Employers include local authorities, industrial companies, churches, private clubs, companies and private individuals. Caretakers may also work for private cleaning contractors.
Caretakers work in a variety of buildings, including schools, office blocks, factories and leisure complexes, or in residential areas such as blocks of flats or housing estates. Large schools and office blocks may employ several caretakers.
There are opportunities throughout the UK, although the majority of jobs are in towns and cities.
Jobs are advertised in local papers, Jobcentre Plus offices and on websites. There is a lot of competition for jobs.
Caretakers do not need qualifications, although some GCSE's may be an advantage. Maths, English and practical subjects such as resistant materials are useful, as are practical DIY skills.
The Diploma in construction and the built environment may be relevant for this area of work.
Most school caretakers have experience of other jobs and professions, such as building or security work.
In larger establishments, it may be possible to start as an assistant caretaker.
The level of training varies from employer to employer. Most training takes place in the workplace, normally under the supervision of an experienced person.
Trainee caretakers may be able to work towards NVQ Levels 1 and 2 in cleaning and support services. It may also be advantageous to work towards the Cleaning Supervisory Skills Certificate offered by the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc).
Training may be available covering specific areas, such as dealing with asbestos, the Care of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), fire regulations and basic DIY skills.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
Within education, promotion for caretakers may mean moving to a larger school, college or university, where they will supervise other staff such as cleaners, gardeners or a team of caretakers.
For those aiming at promotion it may be an advantage to study for:
Caretakers working for local authorities may move into office jobs in the housing department.
There may be management opportunities in some private cleaning contracting companies.
It may also be possible to move into facilities management, which is a growing area. There are foundation degrees available in facilities management.
The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc),
9 Premier Court, Boarden Close, Moulton Park, Northampton NN3 6LF
Tel: 01604 678710
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB),
Englemere, Kings Ride, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7TB
Tel: 01344 630700
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH),
Octavia House, Westwood Way, Coventry CV4 8JP
Tel: 024 7685 1700
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.