Hospitality’s unexpectedly hottest new job: Butler
We’re all familiar with the Geoffrey to Uncle Phil, the Alfred to Bruce Wayne, the Carson to Lord Grantham, but butlers aren’t just a relic of Hollywood parody and old-word aristocracy—butlers are back. In 2013, global financial wealth grew by 14.6%, with the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) representing the fastest-growing region. Because of this, and perhaps to a lesser extent, popular period dramas such as Downton Abbey, old families and new money alike are once again seeking butlers to run their vast estates.
What they do
When one thinks of a butler, they often think of an older gentleman with coattails and a British accent, carrying a tray of tea (or champagne). Yet when you pull back the curtains, a butler’s job goes way beyond that. Nowadays butlers can also go by the title of major-domo, estate manager, or household manager and do just that—run large estates or multiple estates, including overseeing household staff, budgets and contractors, planning events, and even acting as a personal assistant their employer (often referred to as the “principal”). All of this must be done while maintaining the highest standards and balancing the trust, professionalism and confidence of their employers. Butlers are also becoming popular with high end hotels looking to provide extra, temporary personal assistant-type services to their elite guests.
How to get started
Believe it or not, butler schools exist. Usually an 8-week course with a certificate awarded to successful graduates, these programs include training on etiquette, cleaning (the care of priceless antiques is an art in itself, after all), table setting and service, bartending, security and household management software, event planning and more. Most butler schools are in the UK, but Canada has one of its own: The Charles MacPherson Academy for Butlers and Household Managers, located in Toronto Canada. Or, you can start your career the old fashion way: simply find a job in service or hospitality and work your way up.
How to get find a position
Many people “fall” into buttling (yes, that’s an actual verb) through simply being in the hospitality industry to begin with. They may have started off as a nanny, server, personal assistant or chef and have either been poached by a family or institution who saw their potential, had their role evolve, or simply started applying to open positions. Apparently, word of mouth/referrals and dedicated placement agencies seem to be the most popular and reliable way of finding employment as a butler or household manager.
A trained butler can command a salary of anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on experience, whereas a household manager with expanded duties can command $80,000 to $125,000, according to Charles MacPherson Associates Inc. Academy brochure.
That’s right, we’re talking six-figure salaries, and even more if you’re willing to re-locate abroad to places such as Dubai and rapidly growing China.
Is this career path right for you?
Do you have an eye for detail and are a perfectionist? So you feel a certain satisfaction in bringing joy and order to other people’s life? Have you always seen yourself in the hospitality field? Do you prioritize elegance, discretion and pride in all you do above all else? If yes to all these questions then definitely consider a career as a household manager.
The best litmus test I ever came across that indicates how much career satisfaction you’ll get over time was the answer to this question: do you see yourself as running an estate or owning one? If you answered the former, and still want to make a difference in people’s lives, flex your leadership muscle and make a great living, consider becoming a butler.