Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Did You Want To Become A Butler?

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,



  1. Wait, so you're saying you don't want to become Alfred? :)

    Seriously though, that's some good insight. It can't be easy to work your way to becoming the head of a billionaire's household though right? I know you said the school is intense, but so is law school, and many lawyers aren't very successful. You must have some natural talent for it. Is the competition post-school also intense?

    Maybe your next step in life should be consulting on, or running, a show about the life of a modern butler. With things like Downton Abbey being so popular, I can't see how this hasn't been done yet.

    1. Hello, Ben. Thanks for your interest.

      And YES competition is stiff for the top jobs. You can start out as an errand boy or house cleaner and work your way to the top over a number of years. But if you graduate from a respected house staff school, you can be placed right at the top when a job becomes available.

      It's funny you should mention a tv show. This blog has already been scripted for a tv series, and duely registered with the Writer's Guild of America. The search for a production company is underway. So we'll see how things develop.

      Thanks for reading, Ben. And please do stop by anytime.


  2. Hi Andrew,

    This posting has perfectly summed up my journey over the past 24 months. I am now in final negotiations for my first (entry-level) job as a Household Manager that will begin in one month. Your blog has also served as my school to help make this so. As I now dip my foot into the pool of upscale service, I will continue to be a faithful follower of all that you have to share. Celebrate with me!


    1. Lynn, my dear! Congratulations to you!!!

      You plotted this all out so carefully -- attending Butler School, drawing all you service skills together, and hanging in there until the right family and job comes your way -- not just the first crappy thing that pops up. (Some rich families are completely intolerable, as we all know. In fact, they should be black-listed! HA!)

      I (we) hope you'll let us know how things progress. And as you might have noticed, gossip is not forbidden on this site. Ha! Please feel free to add any insights you'd like to share.

      And celebrate I will! Toasting you tonight with a gin martini, one drop of Vermouth -- stirred with TWO olives. (A person needs food once in awhile.)


  3. Dear Andrew As always you have written a very interesting blog !!! You make things sooooo exciting !!!!! Thanks for another GREAT Read !!!!KEK

    1. Thanks for you comment, KEK.

      I'm glad you find the essays interesting. I'm having fun writing them, too.


  4. Wow! Congratulations on the possible TV show- very exciting!! I've been enjoying your blog for several months now, and I have a question, maybe for a future post if it hasn't been covered before? I love fancy china patterns (have no hope of affording them, but they're nice to ogle :). Do you have any thoughts on the china/china patterns of the rich? Does the fine china make an appearance with your employers very often? I remember reading that they have massive amounts of silver at the ready :) Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Anonymous. And thank you for reading.

      A dedicated focus on fine china is a good idea, and would be fun to write. I've only briefly touched on the topic, buried within other posts. Will add it to the list, and ask the editor to shuffle it up.

      And thanks for your congratulations on a possible tv series -- the emphasis being "possible". Ha! It's a long journey between a scripted pilot and actually getting it produced. But we've had many inquires along this line, and something's bound to happen, sooner or later.

      Hope you'll add some identifying name or initials to your comments, so I'll know who's writing. How about "China Girl or Boy", whatever the case may be? That seems to fit.

      Thanks again,

  5. Hi Andrew

    Your life before becomng a butler is currently where I am right now. For some time I've wanted to go into events planning, but due to my lack of service industry trainning I've found no luck in that department. so I started to look for other options and trainning.

    Unfortunately most general hospitality trainning in my country are two year courses or more and financially I can't afford that.

    This is when I came across butler school. There is an intensive butler school that's for a shorter period of time and financially I can support myself for that short time, but will be left with little after paying for the trainning and living off the saving.(The course does come with a placement company)

    And I do prefer a household environment to corporate environments.

    Is there somewhere else I can read about other Butler's experiences? Good and Bad? Also I am female, would that hinder my chance of employment or you know of any difficulties relating to my gender?

    Your reply would be much appreciated.
    It's been great to find this blog. I've been so undecisive in what to do.

    :) Ming

    1. Hello Ming,

      No, your gender will not hinder your goals. Actually, I've written about this before. In the search bar above just type the words 'are there female butlers?' and the essay will come up.

      With the skills you learn at butler school, you are not confined to private service. Hotels, resorts, cruise ships and retirement centers also require your services.

      I don't know if there are other similar blogs, but the International Guild of Professional Butlers (at is interesting reading for those in our profession.

      Good luck to you, and thanks for reading.


    2. Thanks Andrew! your reply is going a long way into my decision. I do have a few months till the next course. So I'll do more research. :)