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What Is a Household Manager?

Gillian Burdett
Feb. 26, 2018

Learn about household managers -- include their roles, training and salary.

The term "certified household manager" was created by Mary Louise Starkey of Starkey International Institute in 1981. “At the time, terms like butler and majordomo existed, but there was no way for women to enter the management aspect of private service,” she says. “The term 'butleress' didn't work for me.”

According to Starkey, most people think that household management is all about technical skills like cleaning and serving. But in the end, real household management is the overall management of a home. Most large homes (5,000 square feet or more), require a full-time household manager.

Barbara Allred of the UK-based training and consulting firm The English Manner, who also worked in the royal household, identifies the household manager as the individual who is, “the senior of all domestic staff, who takes orders from the owner, gives directions to all other staff and is responsible for the smooth running of house and staff.”


What Does a Household Manager Do?

“The duties of a house manager will be different in each establishment, depending on the size of the house, how often the owners will be in residence and what level of family, guests and functions take place,” shares Allred.

In a large, staffed home, the household manager supervises and trains the private-service employees and oversees the work of service contractors. This requires in-depth technical knowledge in the areas of house maintenance, cleaning, entertaining, clothing, food and menu planning. You could be doing even simple things like feeding the dog, making coffee in the morning and putting the home back in order.


Is a Housekeeper a Household Manager?

Sometimes there is confusion about what a household manager actually is. Starkey reiterates that the position is an administrative one. “The idea that families are now calling a household manager somebody who cleans is not fair.”


What Training Is Required for Household Managers?

You can get certified in household management through programs like Starkey's. But while a formal education, such as coursework in food, wine, hygiene and protocol, is necessary, “The best training for a house manager will be through experience of working in a large house, where they would learn from experts in all departments,” Allred says.


What Are Household Manager Salaries?

The position of household manager is a professional one that demands annual salaries ranging between $50,000 and $100,000, plus benefits, according to Starkey. Other household employees may be paid an hourly wage and hired on a part-time basis. The size of the house, the number of staff to be supervised and the amount of responsibility undertaken are all factors to consider when determining a household manager’s salary. The position often includes housing and meals.

Gillian Burdett is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found here.

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