Education and Training License
Salary Median—$16,820 per year
Employment Outlook Poor
Definition and Nature of the Work
In some public and private parking lots, customers hand over their cars to attendants, who then park the cars. When customers return, the attendants quickly find the cars and return them to the customers. Sometimes they take payment and make change for customers, but more often the money is handled by cashiers.
When they are not parking cars, attendants usually stay inside a small booth near the entrance to the lot. When customers drive in, attendants give them numbered claim tickets, which they must turn in when they pick up their cars. In some lots the time of arrival is stamped on tickets by an automatic clocking machine. In others attendants write the time on the tickets by hand.
In crowded, single-level parking lots where space is limited, attendants make note of the time their customers plan to return. If customers intend to return quickly, attendants park their cars near the exit. Cars of customers who plan to be gone for several hours can be parked farther away from the exit.
If parking lots have many levels, attendants either drive the cars to other levels or move the cars to different floors by freight elevator.
During slow periods, attendants wash down the parking decks and do other maintenance work.
Education and Training Requirements
Parking lot attendants must have driver's licenses and be able to drive all types of cars. Honesty is important because they sometimes handle large sums of money and are entrusted with customers' cars and belongings. In communities where special licenses are required, applicants' driving records are checked. They may be fingerprinted before getting jobs.
Companies often prefer applicants who have graduated from high school; diplomas are not required, however. Courses in auto mechanics can be helpful. Attendants should be able to do simple math and clerical work.
Attendants get little or no training. Large companies may offer brief on-the-job classes during which new workers are taught record keeping, customer relations, and driving and parking from experienced attendants.
Getting the Job
Job seekers can apply directly to managers of parking lots. Local government Web sites list job openings at municipal lots. State employment services, union offices, and newspaper classified ads may provide employment leads.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
While opportunities for advancement are limited, some attendants become managers or supervisors. Parking lot chains may have jobs for regional or city managers. Some attendants become truck drivers, chauffeurs, or route delivery workers.
The job outlook for parking attendants is poor. Many parking facilities now rely on cashiers: customers get tickets from machines, park their own cars, and pay fees upon departure. Some large commercial parking facilities in urban areas are not equipped for such automation, however. They offer the best employment opportunities.
Parking attendants work long shifts—sometimes ten hours at a stretch. They may work six days each week, and night, weekend, and holiday work may be required. Attendants are busiest during rush hours; at other times, they may have little to do.
Attendants have daily contact with people and cars, so they must enjoy working with both. They must be skilled drivers, for in many lots they must pay for any damage they do to cars while parking them. They must be in good health and agile because they must work quickly during peak hours.
Earnings and Benefits
In 2004 the median income of parking attendants was $16,820 per year. Union members and attendants who work in large cities earned more. Tips can add to attendants' earnings.
Where to Go for More Information
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO
25 Louisiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001-2198
National Parking Association
1112 Sixteenth St. NW, Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20036
Some parking attendants, especially those who belong to unions, receive benefits such as health insurance and paid vacations.