Butlers have a long history of providing service to the family that employs them. A butler often oversees other household staff, but in some instances, he might perform light cleaning services as well as serve as household chef. In some cases, the butler is called a house manager. Butlers typically work full-time for a single family, but in some instances, they are on call 24 hours a day.
No formal training is necessary to become a butler. Some individuals learn the tasks necessary on the job while working as housekeepers or nannies. Others opt to attend butler school. Courses are available in the United States and Europe that provide the training necessary to become a butler. For example, the Professional Domestic Institute in Powell, Ohio offers an eight-week training course where students learn about household service as a career. They study the code of ethics practiced by butlers and learn how to present themselves professionally. Classes show the future butlers how to prepare table service and serve meals. Students learn how to perform routine maintenance tasks around a house. The course also teach prospective butlers how to deal with family members in a respectful way.
The butler’s duties depend on the needs of the family that hires him. The butler manages the family’s schedule and makes sure each family member knows where he or she needs to be at any given time. The butler often makes travel arrangements for his employer and sometimes travels with the family. The family gives the butler a household budget and he manages it accordingly. He is often responsible for purchasing food and wine for the family with money from the budget. When the family has a party or other special function, the butler oversees the planning of the party. Care of crystal, silver and fine china is the butler’s responsibility. The butler might have the responsibility of caring for the man of the house’s wardrobe and providing other personal services. Some employers require the butler to perform light cleaning and routine maintenance. He is expected to maintain an inventory of household items, especially artwork and antiques.
Butlers need to possess good organizational skills so they can perform their job efficiently. They need good communication skills to carry out their tasks. If more than one service person works for the family, the butler serves as the supervisor. The butler must be in good health, because if someone on staff gets sick, he often fills in for them. A background in restaurant service helps the butler perform his kitchen duties. Today’s butler needs to be able to coordinate the family’s schedule using computers and other platforms.
The International Guild of Professional Butlers reports that butlers in the United States earn between $50,000 and $120,000 annually as of 2013. Depending on the employment contract, the butler may receive housing from his employer as well as a car to drive. Proper attire is also included as part of the salary package. Butler’s often receive two or three weeks paid vacation each year.
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