Butler

Alternate Titles:  Household Manager, HM, House Manager, Butler Administrator, Major Domo, Manservant, Staff Manager, Chief of Staff, Staff Captain, Estate Manager, Head of Household Staff


The job titles of Butler and Household Manager (HM) in the US are often interchangeable and can have the most varied, and confusing meanings in the “private service” business. 

Old World Connotation of “Formal Service”

In some households the title of Butler still has a certain old world connotation. The very formal service standards of a Royal Palace or traditional British culture are upheld in some US homes today. In these instances, again, the final job description rests within the wishes of the one being served, and the all-around skills of the employee should be compatible with the expected demands of the employer.

Old World or New World

The title Household Manger may be more common in the US.  Interpretation is usually a result of the employer’s other staff and management structure, as well as their cultural background. Regardless of which title is chosen, the expected functions and abilities can be very similar.

Butler – British Style

The British style Butler is often in uniform and primarily charged with managing the household staff, reception of guests, serving of refreshments and meals, maintaining the fine silver and china, the valet of the employers clothing and various other duties. The Butler reflects a formal image. Generally duties would not include cooking and cleaning duties other than as trainer or fill in.

Butler – USA Style

The current perception of the USA Butler combines the duties of the Household Manager with a more formal attitude and mindset of the formal Butler. As with the Household Manager job definition, there is a wide range in the actual job duties depending on the particular residence and also on the quality, experience and skill of the individual providing Butler service.

Butlers Manage the Daily Details of One Private Residence

  • Butlers and House Managers can be found in homes of all sizes depending on the service needs of the owners
  • It is not uncommon today to see a Butler / HM employed by a busy family in a house under 5000 square feet.
  • A Butler / HM that provides high levels of personal service are more likely to live in the home or on the employer’s property

Education, Experience, Knowledge, Skills & Abilities

Highly experienced Butlers in the “private services” industry are some of the most well rounded, thoughtful, tactful, independent and resourceful workers that can be found anywhere.  The unique combination required to succeed in this position is rarely found in other professions.  Many have a TIBA Diploma from The International Butlers Academy and years of experience in private service.  In the 21st Century, we are also finding butlers with Bachelor’s degrees and even some with post-secondary education.

  • On the one hand, the successful Butler is a leader with exceptional organizational, and staff management skills and are acutely aware of current household and business technologies, finance, computers to include smart home systems.  At the same time they also understand social etiquette and formal service, oversee and participate in proper table settings and entertainment prep and are knowledgeable about wines and spirits and many, oversee the wine cellar and liqueur inventory
  • On the other hand, they are well educated in luxury items such as fine art and antiques, and proper social etiquette, and cultural knowledge.  Successful Butlers acutely understand “private service concepts”, are able to anticipate their Principal’s needs, are friendly but not familiar, strongly support the Principal’s privacy and confidentiality and are always invisible and available.  Butlers are creative and intuitive thinkers and constantly solve problems

Butlers Range of Responsibilities

  • The First Contact – In a more formal setting, the Butler answers residence phone, receives guests at the door and supervises the reception of visitors and serves guests
  • Standards Setting & Household Procedures - Butler in a more formal residence typically set service standard and housekeeping procedures for the home.  May write Household Standards Manual and Household Procedures Manual
  • Staffing – Household staff may include, if any: Housekeepers, Laundress, Houseman, Chauffeur, Private Chef, Gardener, Nanny etc., although a very large staff would indicate estate management  and estate management skills, rather than household management.  Regardless of staff size, staffing and personnel management responsibilities for one or a multi-staff include: hiring, firing, orientation, training, mentoring, coaching, and development, compensation, taxes, reviews and supervision, and accurate record keeping, on-going management of staff to meet service needs of household and administrative functions
  • Vendor & Contract Negotiation and Management – May negotiate and manage all contracts, supervise work and review invoices for all outside serve providers including screening and overseeing outside vendors, contractors
  • Property & Systems Management - scheduling for all maintenance, staffing, accounting and services needed for l property; system and procedure protocol development for all properties
  • Budget Preparation –May prepare budget and Timesheet approval for payroll, if any
  • Security & Safety - Overseeing security for the household and family could also be included
  • Other Duties – Run errands (shopping, gift purchases, dry cleaning), manages the household calendar, may also serve as personal valet to the household and/or gentleman of the house, perform light housekeeping duties, oversees family packing and travel preparations; assists with planning and organizing parties and events in the home, serves meals and drinks and performs wait services related thereto; coordinates with other staff as needed as well as with other parts of the employer’s organization

Compensation – Corporate Type Benefit Package, Perks

  • Salaries can vary greatly. Typical salary range is $40,000 - $80,000.
  • The classic Butler who has executive level management skills, excellent job history and who can portray a wonderful service personality can achieve salaries of $80,000 and up.
  • The USA Butler salaries are comparable to salaries for a Household Manager
  • The more formal or specialized the service, the number of employees supervised, etc. will dictate higher pay rates.
  • Additional benefits may include fully paid housing, automobile, paid corporate type benefit package, clothing allowance, and more