The following is our attempt to define the various titles for household staff as used in the United States. Please remember that some terms have many definitions other than what we have listed here, and jobs often overlap. Salaries are approximate and often vary depending on area of the country, skills required, responsibilities of the position, and how much any given family likes the applicant/employee and wants their services. Salaries listed do not include benefits or bonuses.
Hands-on Household Manager
Description & Qualifications:
Household Managers are found in American mansions and estates, caring for the country’s most upscale individuals and families. They are modeled after European butlers.
The Household Manager needs a pleasant demeanor, strong work ethic, excellent organizational skills, and a confident attitude to succeed. They must be able to be completely flexible in meeting any and all needs of the family. If their duties or responsibilities so require, they may need to have a knowledge of different styles of formal entertaining, protocol, purchasing high-quality items for the family’s use, vast resources to fit any occasion, etc. This person may be responsible for more than one home and provide continuity between homes or properties. Without the Household Manager, chaos could reign.
Household Managers ensure that the home runs smoothly. They may be the only staff in the house, which means they may clean, provide wardrobe and linen care, run errands, and cook; they may also schedule contractors, organize dinners and parties, and/or oversee finances.
If the Household Manager works in a home where there are only one or two other staff members, they usually assist with some hands-on services, such as cooking and cleaning, while providing supervisory and limited administrative responsibilities for the home and family. Their duties will be more varied and extensive.
In a home with a larger staff, the Household Manager will usually work in a more administrative position, but should always be ready to help out in case of staff illness, vacation, or vacancy. See the description for Administrative Household Manager for a sample list of responsibilities.
A Household Manager commands a salary between $60,000 and $90,000, which may include living accommodations.
Administrative Household Manager
Description & Qualifications:
Professional Domestic Services & Institute was the first to define the Administrative Household Manager position. These individuals are responsible for providing the ultimate in management and administration of the upscale homes of the wealthy and powerful. They will often have a college degree, understand the need for professional training, and will usually have previous household experience.
They are capable of providing continuity between multiple properties, have an excellent understanding of security measures for the home and family, are able to anticipate most needs of the family, have impeccable manners and understanding of protocol, and possess excellent administrative, computer, and management skills.
The Administrative Household Manager will be involved in a very close, tight-knit relationship with their employer. They must respect the sanctity of this relationship and keep all conversations and experiences confidential—essential when working with the rich and famous. They should do nothing to compromise it; above all, an Administrative Household Manager must be trustworthy.
Administrative Household Managers often work closely with their employer as his or her “right-hand person,” handling any request or need with the utmost in professionalism.
They may be in charge of directing correspondence to and from the employer; scheduling appointments with the employer and any maintenance work to be done on the home; tracking the family and household finances; making travel arrangements and developing itineraries; and any other personal request the employer may make of them. The Administrative Household Manager will recruit new staff, interview applicants, and present their impressions to the employer. They will train the new staff in procedures, schedules, rules, and so on. Finally, they would oversee the work of the staff, checking to make sure they are doing their work to the best of their abilities or deciding if any of the staff require further education. In order to supervise properly, they should have a good understanding of all the duties and responsibilities of any staff member.
If there is no Personal Assistant on staff, an Administrative Household Manager might also perform secretarial responsibilities, such as typing letters and memos, answering the phone and taking messages, opening, sorting and/or answering mail, setting up and managing files for letters and other important documents, scheduling appointments, or any other kind of clerical work. They could act as bookkeeper and manage the family budget, track expenses, manage records for tax purposes, research and keep track of investments, or obtain quotes on major renovations of the home. Their excellent computer capabilities enable them to maintain extensive warranty and inventory files, keep track of repairs, maintain a Household Management Reference Book, and create and Employee Manual for the home or estate.
A common task of an Administrative Household Manager is personal shopping for the lady or gentleman of the house. They should be well aware that the shopping habits of the wealthy are often far different from the average person’s shopping habits. A wealthy family has no problem setting aside a half-million dollars, or more, in the budget for their personal needs. They may think nothing of seeking out an antique chest of drawers and paying $80,000.00+ for it, purchasing multiple sets of fine china or an extensive silver collection, spending $5000.00+ on a single set of bed linens, remodeling any part of the home at a moment’s notice, or spending $100,000.00 on a Halloween party or $1,500.00+ for fresh flowers for the week. I know of one employer who purchased 250 of socks; kept 25; and returned the rest. That is also part of your job, handling returns.
The Administrative Household Manager will be responsible for any special projects for their employer. They may help to design an in-home beauty salon, or research and implement new security needs for the home. They may not only plan the family vacation to Italy, but also go along. They may simply listen attentively and sympathetically—with open ears and a closed mouth—as celebrity employer vents regarding their difficulties of any particular day. They may have their days filled with life’s little details: arranging dinner reservations, having medication delivered, calling the insurance agent, or bailing out the wayward nephew.
Administrative Household Managers earn approximately $85,000 to $150,000+ a year and are often provided living accommodations and corporate-style benefits.
Description & Qualifications:
The duties of an Administrative Household Manager and a Personal Assistant often look very similar. Both are administrative positions within the household, and both positions require a close relationship with his or her employer. The Personal Assistant is a very trusted member of the household staff team, handling all confidential responsibilities for their employer.
Frequently Personal Assistants interact with just one person within the home: their employers. Other times, Personal Assistants may answer to both their employers and their supervisor, the Administrative Household Manager or the Estate Manager. Still other employers give their Personal Assistants the responsibilities of the household normally associated with Administrative Household Managers, including the supervising of staff.
In order to best serve their employers, they should have experience equal to the subject matter offered in our training program.
The Personal Assistant could be in charge of hiring, training and supervising staff; directing correspondence to and from the employer; scheduling appointments with the employer and any maintenance work to be done on the home; making travel arrangements and developing itineraries; and any other personal request the employer may make of them.
Personal Assistants may also perform only secretarial responsibilities, i.e., typing letters and memos, answering the phone and taking messages, opening, sorting and/or answering mail, setting up and managing files for letters and other important documents, scheduling appointments, or any other kind of clerical work. They may also act as bookkeeper and manage the family finances, track expenses, manage records for tax purposes, research and keep track of investments, or obtain quotes on major renovations of the home. Their excellent computer capabilities enable them to maintain extensive warranty and inventory files and/or a Household Management Reference Book.
A common task of a Personal Assistant is personal shopping for the lady or gentleman of the house. They should be well aware that the shopping habits of the wealthy are often far different from the average person’s shopping habits. A wealthy person has no problem setting aside a half-million dollars in the budget for their personal needs. They may think nothing of redecorating any room of their home and spending a quarter of a million dollars to do it, purchasing multiple sets of fine china or an extensive silver collection, spending $5000 on a single set of sheets, or spending $250,000 on a Halloween party.
The Personal Assistant will often be responsible for special projects for their employer. They may help to design an in-home beauty salon or research any item that the family is considering purchasing. They may not only plan the family vacation to Italy, but also go along. They may simply listen attentively and sympathetically—with open ears and a closed mouth—as their employer vents about their difficulties of any particular day. They may have their days filled with life’s little details: arranging dinner reservations, calling the insurance agent, having a piece of art work shipped to a conservator for repair, or bailing out the wayward nephew.
The typical range for a Personal Assistant is $50,000 to $150,000 a year.
Housecleaners are the backbones of America’s fabulous mansions and estates. A beautifully cared-for home is the work of one or more Housecleaners. A Housecleaner’s tasks entail all the facets of serving a wealthy employer and keeping a home in such a way that it will not just be clean and neat, but will also shine in a way that only a well-cared for home can and be protected from damage.
Excellent housecleaners will have at least 5 years of experience or professional training at our Institute (the only one in the country for training Estate Housecleaners).
The Housecleaner does anything necessary to maintain an impeccable appearance in a home and to ensure the value of the possessions trusted in their care. They should know how to care for the many expensive, if not priceless, materials and possessions in the home, as well as what should be cared for only by professional experts. Some of these items could include silver, crystal, marble, granite, leather, hardwood, silk, exotic fur, and more.
They will usually follow a daily schedule and will understand the need for quartering or zoning a home, knowing which rooms must be detail-cleaned several times a month and which ones may be detail-cleaned only once a month, in order to ensure that the entire home is cleaned in the most efficient and effective manner. They should also know what supplies, products, and equipment should be used.
A very experienced and/or professionally-trained Housekeeper will normally earn $15 to $30 per hour or $35,000 to $60,000 year. Their benefits package may also include housing, automobile, insurance, and other rewards.
The Estate or Executive Housekeeper may oversee other Housecleaners. They have specialized knowledge in the cleaning of wealthy, fabulous homes, and they know how to organize their time and the time of others. An experienced Estate Housekeeper will be able to supervise and train others, coordinate work schedules, and organize their and others’ time for the most effective, efficient cleaning. They are completely trustworthy and able to complete any cleaning and caring task laid before them.
No homeowner needs to worry that their fine home furnishings and valuable home accessories will be damaged with an experienced and professional Estate Housekeeper working for them. They know how to care for fine linens, marble, crystal, silver, and other valuable materials. They also constantly update their knowledge through periodic research. Thanks to this research, they know which products will do the best job of maintaining, cleaning, and disinfecting, and which products could destroy their employer’s possessions. Not only will they know when an item needs specialized cleaning or repair by a professional, but they will know whom to call. They know the right tools and equipment for every job, and a wealthy employer may have complete confidence in having them purchase the supplies and equipment needed for the home. They are also knowledgeable in caring for artwork and are familiar with many types of conservation methods.
Estate Housekeepers’ salary may range from $45,000 to $70,000 a year.
The Laundry Specialist will know how to care for any kind of clothing materials like linen, silk, rayon and other blends, wool, leather, suede, and fur. They will be well-versed in stain removal and ironing settings. They will know how to properly store and pack all clothing and accessories, and are experts in the use of all types of equipment. They will be able to care for fine bed linens and table linens. Their handiwork in ironing and folding linens will make them look like they came straight from the pages of a Neiman-Marcus catalog.
The Laundry Specialist may be employed by a family that wants their clothing, shoes, accessories, and linens cared for in the most artful and knowledgeable manner possible.
They should be capable of using both domestic and commercial laundering equipment, pressing machines, and rotary irons. They can care for shoes, purses, and coats in addition to clothing. They know which clothes could be damaged by hanging and should be folded. They will be familiar will the different types of hangers and storage systems for clothing.
Any rip, snag, or worn-through area will be no problem for the Laundry Specialist, as they will know how to repair anything—or when to call a professional. They may even be able to monogram clothing or accessories.
For the privilege and responsibility of caring for the most exquisite wardrobes of the rich and famous, they may be paid from $40,000 to $60,000 a year.
Description & Qualifications:
Good food is essential to making any house a home, and this is especially true in the lives of busy, upscale families. The family Chef understands this most basic of all needs and is able to make it a reality. They should be flexible enough to work with kids or pets under their feet or to work in coordination with a caterer. Indeed, flexibility is key for a good Chef.
Chefs are responsible for all family meals and everything this entails: menu planning, proper selection of the freshest produce and meats, pantry shopping, kitchen clean-up and organization, and care and purchase of any necessary equipment and supplies.
The best Chef is one who can meet any of their wealthy employer’s wants and needs. They are able to prepare food according to special dietary needs, anything from homestyle to gourmet meals, or special occasions, formal dinners, and cocktail parties. They will be proficient in food presentation and be able to set an “inviting table.”
A Chef’s salary may range from $45,000 to $110,000 a year.
Description & Qualifications:
Wealthy individuals and families frequently hire couples because they have one another for company and often tend to stay at a position longer than individuals (who sometimes become lonely). The Couple works together as a team to provide most if not all of a family’s domestic needs. Couples usually have a wide range of skills and life experience. Ideal couples are nonsmokers and live without pets or children for optimum ease of housing accommodations.
One half of the Couple usually provides cleaning services for the home and possibly light cooking. The other may act as a groundskeeper, chauffeur, maintenance worker, and possibly a server. Couples may also have more administrative responsibilities, such as supervising housekeeping staff, hiring contractors, and overseeing entertaining and renovations.
A Couple’s salary may range from $60,000 to $120,000, but it could be higher if either or both have culinary arts training, household management training, or any other especially beneficial skill or knowledge.
Description & Qualifications:
When a wealthy homeowner has several different properties, an Estate Manager is necessary to maintain continuity between all the households. This is an entirely administrative management position. This person will have expert knowledge of personnel and home management, property care, and grounds expertise.
The Estate Manager often holds (and requires) a degree in business, accounting, or MBA, and would understand and appreciate the need for Professional Household Training and have an excellent understanding of the politics of a home. They would have excellent people and negotiation skills.
The Estate Manager supervises many different properties that are fully staffed, possibly making final decisions in hiring and firing staff, and will undoubtedly be called upon to set the standards for service throughout the home(s).
They will usually be responsible for any renovations on the properties, hiring contractors, and researching and making recommendations for any major purchases, i.e., investment antiques, yachts, airplanes, polo ponies, the design of the expansive new water garden, stables, or the wiring of the entire house to make it a Smart Home.
The Estate Manager may also the employer’s Personal Assistant, acting as the “right-hand person,” which would entail the usual errands, money management, personal shopping, and anything else the employer desires.
This administrative position is the highest level in the home and generally commands between $85,000 and $250,000 a year, with the usual corporate-style benefit package included.
Description & Qualifications:
Many wealthy and powerful celebrities own more than one home. They may have summer, winter, or vacation homes, or all of the above. A Caretaker’s responsibility is to provide general care and security for the home and property while it lies vacant, or general maintenance or property care while the owners are in residence.
The Caretaker position involves a heavy responsibility. Their employer relies on them to keep their house safe, well-maintained, and well cared for. An individual unwilling to continually be on the lookout for problems and be ready to call repair workers when they spot trouble should not be a Caretaker. The full-time employee must actively care for the home and property, not just passively sit in front of the TV or think that someone will support them just for occupying an employer’s home or cottage.
The perfect Caretaker is someone with a strong work ethic who is willing and able to work unsupervised on a beautiful, remote, and many times solitary property.
The top priorities of a Caretaker include home maintenance and security. Home maintenance includes general contracting of electrical work, appliance repair, carpentry, snow plowing, septic care, roof work, pest control, plumbing, chimney sweeping, and painting. It may also involve some minor housekeeping or lawn care.
As the Caretaker will usually live on property, they will provide a deterrent from theft or vandalism that a vacant house cannot offer. If, for whatever reason, the Caretaker does not live inside the house, they will be responsible for house checks (however frequently the employer desires), as well as checks for property damage after storms or extreme weather, and will have personal contact with the alarm company should the security system be activated. They should be well-equipped to handle such a possibility.
When it comes time for the employer to come to the house for that long-awaited vacation or seasonal residence, the Caretaker is often responsible for preparing the house for the “homecoming.” They may arrange for a part-time housecleaner or carpet steam cleaner, wax floors, polish silver, clean or replace windows, arrange for fresh flower arrangements, grocery shop, trim outside foliage, and anything else required to allow their employer to feel relaxed and refreshed from the moment they step foot on the property.
Caretaker salaries usually range from $15,000 to $60,000 varying according to the size of the house and property and the responsibilities involved. Those who care for the property part-time while living their own lives may receive no salary, only free room and board.
Description & Qualifications:
Any parent will tell you that their children are their life. Therefore, the Nanny has in her care the most precious of all responsibilities. Professional childcare providers take care of the children’s physical, developmental, emotional, and behavioral needs.
Nannies should have a great deal of practical childcare experience and should have a degree in early childhood education, elementary education, or a related field. Nannies may have attended a year-long nanny school or a two year vocational program. Above all, they should be completely above reproach, with clean background checks and driving records, and no destructive habits or emotional problems.
A Nanny must be completely devoted to the children in her care. The children’s needs and safekeeping must come before anything else. Therefore, they should not be given other responsibilities that would detract from the quality of care given to the children. They are the most intimate staff member in the home, as they must develop loving, close relationships with their charges—unlike other staff, who should keep a professional distance from the family.
Nannies are responsible for feeding children nutritious meals and providing adequate exercise, preferably in the form of invigorating play! They are responsible for encouraging the younger children’s developmental milestones in movement, such as reflexes and locomotion; emotions, such as attachment and object permanence; and intellect, such as talking and comprehension. They must give their charges unconditional love and support, no matter how challenging that may be, and they must instill proper discipline, which should include celebrating good behavior in addition to correcting misbehavior according to the parents’ instructions.
A Nanny may live in or live out, and they typically receive salaries of $350 to $1000 or more a week.
Description & Qualifications:
A Governess offers many of the same services as a Nanny. But the Governess is also a professional educator who is responsible for giving the children formal lessons inside the home, away from the prying eyes of a public curious about the children of upscale, and often famous, parents.
Governesses should have a degree in education, usually live-in, and be on call 50 to 70 hours a week.
Governesses instruct children of all ages in all subjects. They may also be asked to provide etiquette lessons to their charges. A good Governess will also seek educational opportunities outside the home—in public school terms, “field trips”! They should also give children exposure to the fine arts and will accompany them on social outings.
To touch children’s minds as well as their hearts, the Governess will receive a salary ranging from $45,000 to $85,000 a year.