This is in reference to Scrubs season 2 episode 22 - My Dream Job. In this episode, Janitor tells J.D. that he earns quite more than the latter. Here is their conversation:

J.D.: Mornin'.

Janitor: I make more than you do!

J.D.: Uh, what?

Janitor: I saw your paycheck, and I've been dying to tell you -- I make more than you do. Quite a bit more.

J.D.: You couldn't have seen my paycheck.

(Next scene. With Turk and Spence)

J.D.: Do you have any idea what it feels like to have a janitor make more money than you?

How true is this in reality?

P.S. I don't mean any disrespect to janitors or their profession. I intend to factually validate/refute the above conversation.

  • 2
    Generally speaking, considering the insane amount of work and hours medical residents put in, almost anyone with a full time job make more than residents.
    – BruceWayne
    Sep 8, 2016 at 20:46
  • 3
    @Lilienthal Hi there. I am relatively new here. So forgive me if I have violated the policies regarding asking questions. But again if I had, the moderators and other users would have guided me appropriately. So I am assuming I am okay here. Also I would request you to go through the questions tagged with "realism". Here: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/realism It might help. Cheers.
    – Ravindra S
    Sep 9, 2016 at 10:43

1 Answer 1


Caveat: Janitor says paycheck and paid much more. He does not say paid more per hour. Both are likely salaried and the p/h below is for comparison of their biweekly paycheck.

Consider that Sacred Heart is a Teaching Hospital, and JD is a resident at the time, a non-licensed medical student whom the hospital is basically investing in. He's not paid a regular doctor's salary.

With some quick google checks, the average Medical Resident has a salary of 55,000. (26.50 p/h assuming 40 hour work week. Effective pay rate may be lower depending on hours worked):

Average residency salaries increased from $51,000 in the first year after medical school to over $60,000 after the fifth year. According to a recent commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine, when adjusted for inflation, resident compensation has not changed in 40 years.

The average hospital custodian makes much less:

Hospital Pay. The average hospital custodian earned $12.49 per hour as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This equals a yearly salary of $25,980 for custodians working a 40-hour week all year.

Of course, Janitor does more than just clean. He's seen doing repairs. He's seen bossing other janitors around. So he's more like a Facilities Supervisor. Not quite a manager or mid-management, but not a basic custodian:

The median annual Facilities Maintenance Supervisor salary is $74,404, as of July 29, 2016, with a range usually between $64,323-$84,750, however this can vary widely depending on a variety of factors.

So yes, it's likely that Janitor was making more.

P.S. Medical students have hundreds of thousands in student loans, and the medical industry is brutal. Not all doctors make even 6 figures. Which is why Elliot bailed on Sacred Heart for the For-profit hospital, increasing her pay by much. It's a whole thing between her and the Dean of medicine Kelso.

Later in the series, after firing and rehiring Janitor, he gets a pay raise by saying his new paycheck is half of what he used to make. So he's making much more, though JD is a Doctor at the time. The pay difference probably didn't change.

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    You might also want to consider the personality of Janitor in Scrubs. It's not unlikely that he used his... abilities... in various salary negotiations to get far larger raises than usual.
    – Philipp
    Sep 8, 2016 at 7:51
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    Doctors in training also typically are made to work brutal shifts way beyond their official working hours. When I was doing my mandatory civil duty (a German thing, basically a non-violent alternative to mandatory military duty, which he had until about 10 years ago), I've seen the younger Residents pull 120 hour weeks or 48 hour shifts (and sometimes more). So, even if they make more per year than a janitor, that's still not much per hour. Sep 8, 2016 at 8:58
  • Good reasoning that he is likely quite senior. We don't see anyone else remotely connected to facilities that could have a higher position.
    – OrangeDog
    Sep 8, 2016 at 13:11
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    @cde Great answer. Thanks. This post was immediately replicated by someone on reddit: reddit.com/r/Scrubs/comments/51qluv/… Internet is fast!
    – Ravindra S
    Sep 8, 2016 at 15:38
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    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 9, 2016 at 13:10

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