A New Demand for an Old Industry

This subject would not have caught my attention had I not just read about how rich the executives of big companies were becoming…while everyone else was moving backwards. A recent article in the Huffington Post pointed out that the executives of S&P 500 publicly traded companies had pay increases of more than 28 percent in 2010, over 2009, while rank-and-file workers are at the same place they were in 1980. This doesn’t count all the other new millionaires made within partnerships, and non-S&P 500 big businesses.

So, I guess it should be no surprise that a nearly extinct (at least according to media attention) industry has been resurrected and made fashionable again. I’m talking here about “professional domestic service.” All of a sudden the domestic service industry in the U.S. is taking off to try and meet the demands of the new wealthy.

Butler School

Of course, the “domestic service industry” has a long and prestigious history dating back centuries. The industry is steeped in pride, because not just anyone can be a professional butler, chauffeur, housekeeper, governess, personal assistant, houseman, laundress, or chef (emphasis on “professional”).

That is why Christopher Ely, former butler and estate manager for the powerful figure of Brooke Astor, teamed up with Manhattan’s “French Culinary Institute (FCI)” to form the “Estate Management Studies” program. This new program is now a part of the FCI overall curriculum, and is directed by Christopher Ely.

The training is not cheap. They currently have five different special curriculums set up and they cost about $1,750 for each class. More detailed culinary training is more costly. However, Ely doesn’t think his school will have any problem attracting students, since the demand for “trained” people is rising so fast, because, in the words of professional butler, Charles MacPherson: “The rich just want to live like rich people.”

At the same time, the rewards can be substantial, Professionally trained domestic staff can make a very good wage. Ely says a “good” butler should make about $80,000 per year in base salary.

So, for everyone out there who is unemployed, maybe this is something to consider. Professional domestic service is an industry that prides itself in a long history of integrity, professional service and financial success.

For specific information on “Estate Management Studies” at “The French Culinary Institute,” click here. They have classes in both New York and California.

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