Over the years I've been asked this question many times in one way or another, and I wish I had a quick, short answer. It's not that I was born wanting to become a butler or picked it out of some career guide booklet. But it seemed to be a natural progression in the life I had chosen.
Fresh out of college I found myself in a corporate job sitting in an office cubicle, hacking out newspaper releases for a public relations firm in New York. Good pay, good benefits. But what? Trapped in this cubicle day after day, year after year?
All I really wanted to do was to travel and see the world, and the best jobs to accommodate this nomadic desire were all in the service industry. So be it. I took all my business suits to Good Will, and hit the road.
If you get a job as a waiter in a top restaurant in Beverly Hills, then you're going home with three-or-four hundred bucks in your pocket every night. Work in the Concierge Department in a five-star hotel for the rich and famous, and five-hundred to a thousand a day is coming your way, especially if a member of the rich Saudi family is spending the night there. Drive rented limos in New York for rich people, and with their tips you might easily expect a hundred dollars an hour.
On the other hand, being an English tutor in France or Italy or Germany might bring you only five-dollars an hour. But who cares? You're in Europe, and loving every minute!
It was my friend Miss Helen who steered me toward a career in household service. She pointed out that being a butler or house manager or estate manager is the ultimate in service jobs, and high paying as well. It combines all the skills of all service jobs, but allows a much greater degree of flexibility in time, not to mention creativity.
So off to butler school I went. And any good school out there also serves as a placement agency. They're expensive and very intense. But there's a definite payoff.
Since the salary can range anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 a year (depending upon the family and responsibilities of course) these are great jobs full of fun, excitement, and all the drama you can handle. Most of these jobs come with corporate benefits: vacation and sick pay, 401k plans, life insurance, Worker's Comp and full health insurance. In addition, if you're a live-in butler like me, then all housing expenses are included - rent, electricity, telephone, and so forth. So most of your salary is going directly into savings.
So the big secrete about being a butler is that after ten or fifteen years of service (depending upon your pay scale, of course) you're going to wind up semi-rich yourself, with a million bucks in the bank or more. As nice as this payoff may seem, it's not all about money. Quality of life is a factor, not to mention the hectic, non-stop pace and daily challenges that stretch your strength and imagination on a daily basis. So the bottom line about butler jobs is that you're having fun or learning something new every day, and piling up money in the bank.
Being a butler is not my last stop in life. And I have no idea what the future may bring. But for the time being this is a pretty cool job and I'm keeping an open mind as to whatever comes next.
Thanks for dropping by this evening,