Reginald Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse’s fictional but quintessential British butler, would be thrilled. Demand for British butlers has increased, thanks to the ongoing love that foreign markets such as China and the Middle East have for British tradition and protocol and the arrival on our screens of period dramas such as Downton Abbey. There are around 10,000 butlers in the UK today (source: BBC), and this figure is expected to increase. Here’s what you need to know about butlery as a profession.
What does a private butler do?
In essence, the job of the butler is to attend to the needs and desires of his employer. Butlers can be called upon by their employers to take care of any task from chauffeuring to booking air tickets.
Butlers will typically be engaged in the following duties:
- Household management – e.g. shopping, setting routines and schedules, laundry management, security
- Domestic staff management - e.g. interviewing prospective staff, ensuring house rules are correctly observed by domestic staff
- Management of properties and possessions – e.g. corporate offices, yachts, second homes
- Table management – e.g. setting tables and serving meals
- Chauffeuring - e.g. driving family members or guests as needed
- Pet care – e.g. coordinating vet appointments and grooming
- Valeting – e.g. care of clothing and accessories
- Miscellaneous – e.g. running errands, flower arranging, silver polishing , looking after the needs of guests
- Food related duties – e.g. meal planning, maintaining inventories of supplies, quality control
Below are typical salaries. However, as salaries can vary considerably (butlers working overseas can earn up to £125,000), these should be looked upon as a guide and not relied upon.
Starting salary (trained butler)
£32,000 to £38,500
With 2-3 years’ experience
Up to £96,000
Source: Butler Bureau
Skills and attributes required
- Service oriented – a genuine desire to serve others
- Calm under pressure: a Jeeves-like unflappability
- Attentive to detail
Qualifications and entry requirements
There are no specific qualifications needed to become a butler, but to maximise your earning potential it is advisable to seek butler training. Training is usually fairly broad, practical and focused on skills, and will equip you with everything you need for you first private butler appointment. The following are well regarded butler training providers:
Training can be for up to four weeks, and typically you will be awarded certifications for the disciplines you have covered. A four-week training course will set you back upwards of £4,500.
As an experienced butler you could work in private homes anywhere in the world and command a significant salary. Alternatively, and because there is an increasing demand for highly trained butlers in high-end hotels, you could work in the hotel industry in a variety of hospitality-related roles.
There has never been a better time to become a butler. Butlers are no longer an anachronism, a relic of another age; a career as a butler is lucrative and in-demand. High-end hotels now offer a butler service as a matter of course, and the well-heeled in society regard having a butler as the hallmark of standards. Furthermore, the butler profession is open to everyone, regardless of background, nationality or gender.