Household Staff Job Definitions

Estate Manager

Often Estate and Household Manager jobs are thought of as being the same. A job title is what the employer wants to call it. For purposes of our definition, these two jobs are not the same. When taken to a greater range of responsibility the title Household Manager gives way to the Estate Manager who has all the same skills and more. They will have more property, staff and issues to take care of. Management often includes careful financial oversight, policy making authority and use of executive level communications skills. There may be a very large estate involved with significant auxiliary features such as stables, golf course, vineyard and so forth. There may be private aircraft and yachts and perhaps multiple homes to oversee. There may be an involvement with the employer’s business. As with the Household Manager, the Estate Manager needs to understand the jobs of all staff that he or she oversee.

Household Manager

Household Managers take care of the daily details of managing a home thereby freeing up time for the employer to do other things. This is a rather general job title and actual duties will vary in each situation. The more complex the residence and the standards of the home, then the more sophisticated and professional the House Manager should be.

Being the do-it-all person is not the aspiration or best utilization of all Household Managers. By virtue of training and experience more sophisticated Household Managers can utilize a broader range of talents and skills to save employer time and money. Managing staff, anticipating employer needs, being able to think the way the employer thinks, understanding pro active property management, event planning, security, understanding luxury items, and more are in the play book of these professionals. It is understood that there is always some hands on involvement and this level of Household Manager will know all the domestic tasks in order to properly supervise, train and fill in if necessary.


The British style Butler is often in uniform and primarily charged with managing the household staff, reception of guests, serving of refreshments and meals, maintaining the fine silver and china, the valet of the employers clothing and various other duties. The Butler reflects a formal image. Generally duties would not include cooking and cleaning duties other than as trainer or fill in.

The current perception of the USA Butler combines the duties of the Household Manager with a more formal attitude and mindset of the formal Butler. As with the House Manager job definition, there is a wide range in the actual job duties depending on the particular residence and also on the quality, experience and skill of the individual providing Butler service.

Personal Assistant

As with Household Manager, the Personal Assistant duties will vary with every employment situation. From being a home based secretary to performing duties similar to the Household Manager, the P/A is usually very flexible and coordinates many important activities in the home. Often the Personal Assistant works closely with the Household Manager to synchronize information and quickly handle requests of the family. Job duties can include keeping the family calendar, managing the House Book which documents important household information, along with all types of errands, shopping, and special projects and sometimes helping other household staff with special projects.

Housekeeper and Houseman

These important positions are primarily responsible for the cleaning tasks in the home. They will usually follow a daily routine and have good knowledge of cleaning methods and the proper use of cleaning supplies and equipment. Good organization and ability to prioritize are important. Depending on the specific home other duties such as light food preparation, shopping and errands may become part of the job. At a certain point when duties become more complex the position title might become Executive Housekeeper or Housekeeper / Family Assistant.

Private Chef

Besides the training and talent required for preparing food that pleases the palate of the employer the Chef needs to have a temperament that is very flexible to last minute changes, special requests and the differing personalities of the family and friends being served. Private Chefs should have a good understanding of various styles of table service, party protocols and the job duties of other staff. The ability to maintain a record of family and guest preferences is important as well a willingness to be alert to requests to try different things. Abilities to shop carefully for quality and to manage the kitchen for efficiency, cleanliness and cost effectiveness are valued by employers.


Couples are two people who can individually fill a staffing need in the home. Often these couples can handle all the domestic work in a smaller residence themselves or with a housekeeper. Most couples enjoy working together so that both might be involved in the various domestic tasks, splitting up as they decide themselves for best efficiency.

Caretaker couples are two people who prefer taking care of properties that are only used on a part time basis. They can rise to the occasion when the owners are in residence, but generally prefer a more relaxed pace that allows them more time for themselves while providing a presence on property that is valued by the employer.


The care and nurturing of children is probably the most important task that is hired out in a private home situation. From simple babysitting to more complex child care involving multiple children, educational programming, travel, special education, the range of duties can be wide. Usually the childcare provider may have other duties for the children, such as light housekeeping, some cooking and laundry duties. Governess, Governor or Manny are related job titles that involve the same duties at a higher level or are gender specific.


Often called Companion / Personal Assistants, this position provides a variety of services to an employer who may be older, or have some special needs but is not in need of more complicated medical care. Duties might involve cooking, companionship, help with dressing and home management.

Persons with Special Talents

Candidates who have skills as personal trainers, life coaching, herbal medicine therapists, are just some of the more unique skill sets that we come across or are asked to recruit for. Our staffing consulting services can involve any type of legitimate service performed in the home and generally on a full time basis.