School Custodian: Blue Collar Job With a White Collar Salary

The middle school hierarchy is simple. Principal, vice principal, teacher, librarian, teacher's aide, custodian.

And you might imagine that higher pay goes along with more authority. The principal makes more than a vice principal, a teacher more than a librarian and then there's the crusty old custodian. It's obvious, right?

Surprise! Custodians can make more than middle school teachers, even teachers who hold Master's degrees. Not only that, but some custodians are just plain hot. Meet 33-year-old Chip Walker, a (very cute) school custodian in Ridgewood, Queens. Walker brings home $60,000 a year, thanks to 13 years experience and regular overtime. His best friend, a 32-year-old eighth grade teacher with his Master's degree makes $55,000 a year.

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Why Does a Custodian Make More Than a Teacher?

Unlike most of the teachers, Walker will work most of the summer. And the bigger paycheck comes with a lot of hard work. "There's a reason I make what I do," he said. Walker is on his feet all day, working 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily without much of a summer break. "It's more than emptying trash cans. We wax the floors. Clean out the boiler system. It's really hard work," he said. The biggest downside of Walker's job is that he has to mop up a lot of vomit.

No Degree Required

Walker said his mother forced him into the job when he dropped out of school mid-way through his sophomore year of high school. "I wasn't good at school. Cut a lot of classes. Stopped going," he said. He's wised up now and would like to get his diploma but isn't ready to drop his custodian job. Though he never set out to take on this career, he's is pleased at how it's turned out. "I buy motorcycles. Take girls out. I'm not struggling," he said. "It's a great living. Why leave?" he added.

A School Custodian Sees Everything -- And Travels to Italy

Walker's school has four administrators, one principal and three vice-principals. "Only two of them do any work. It's amazing what people get away with," he said. As for the rest of the staff, they see him as an equal. He's buddies with most of the male teachers. They shoot hoops and smoke pot on Wednesday nights. "We're all from Queens. I'm not judged," he said. Walker will admit the administrators are a bit off limits and he wouldn't attempt to hang out with any of them. "It's a different attitude," he said. When it comes to dating co-workers, he doesn't hold back "Sure I flirt.

I've dated a para (teacher's aid) and one of the security guards," he said. "I'd go out with a teacher. Just haven't yet." The best thing about being a custodian is the salary that comes with the job. He is planning to travel to Italy with a buddy who is an 8th grade teacher. The guys will tour Venice, Florence and Rome. And Walker will have plenty of pocket money to spend.

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