On-line Courses – Private Service

If you cannot afford to break away from work for a couple of months, or afford the fees for training at a formal butler school, then an on-line or long-distance learning course becomes a viable option.

Copyright (c) Matt Buchanan

Copyright (c) Matt Buchanan

It is also an ideal way to increase the depth of your knowledge and gain another perspective and more skills to complement any training already done at a bricks-and-mortar school.

These courses are for:

  • Anyone who would like to become a butler.
  • Anyone currently in any position in private service, who would like to widen their skills base, improve their level of service, or move into the butler profession.
  • Butlers already in service, who may be long on experience but short on formal butler training and would like a credential.
  • Housekeepers in private estates.


  • An affordable way to learn or train;
  • Keep earning income while taking the course;
  • Train from the comfort of your own home;
  • Train on a schedule that suits you;
  • Train under the supervision of an experienced butler, who works with you one-on-one to help you master even the most complex of subjects;
  • Increase your skills and value to current and future employers;
  • Gain the ability to bring greater satisfaction to those you service and thus to yourself;
  • Increase the depth of butler knowledge / skills with formal training that you have missed.


The courses on offer are all based on the books Serving the Wealthy, Volume I and II.

In addition to the full course, the Institute now offers a number of shorter courses focused on specific areas and subjects, for people who want to polish their skills in just those areas.

All online courses include checklists detailing the reading and practical assignments, as well as projects to be done. Progress for students in the Western Hemisphere is supervised by Prof. Steven Ferry personally. Students in the Eastern Hemisphere and Spanish-speaking countries are supervised by Mr. Amer Vargas. The course in Management Skills is supervised by Prof. Richard Ratliff, co-author of Serving the Wealthy Volume I. All students have an open line via e-mail to their instructors for questions about their materials and assignments, and to receive guidance on professional matters.

The full butler/household manager course takes about 400 hours of full-time study – this is comparable to an 8-10 week course offered in a bricks-and-mortar school. But unlike a bricks-and-mortar school, each subject can be and is covered in more depth than one ever could in an 8-10 week course. In a traditional school, each student is surrounded by other students who all must share one teacher’s time & attention. One is forced to go at more or less the same pace as the rest of the class, whether one has fully grasped that subject or needs more practice or not. Whereas with the one-on-one tutor and open schedule you will have in our online courses, you will be able to spend as much time on a subject or practical application as you feel you need to master it.

The course costs US $2,500. Students must purchase their own course materials (books & DVDs) via Amazon.com or another provider, which will cost approximately US $350 depending on whether you purchase new or used books, plus the shipping and handling costs of said books (which will vary depending on where in the world you live). Students may pay in three installments as they proceed through this course, if preferred.

The Management Skills Course and Housekeeper Course each take about 200 hours (about 5 weeks full-time, longer on a part-time schedule) to complete and cost US $1,000. Four books and two DVDs must be purchased for each of these courses (similarly via Amazon) for a total cost of about $250 plus shipping. These courses must be paid in full before starting; there are no installment payments.

Full Private Residence Butler/Household Manager Course – $2,500
Private Service Management Skills – $1,000
Housekeeping Course- $1,000
Private Service Basics Course – $750
Fine Dining for Private Service Professionals – $600

Private Service Specialty Skills Courses:

  • Valeting & Looking After Guests – $300
  • The Bar and Wine Cellar – $200
  • The Culture and Ways of Cigars – $200
  • Security and the Oddjob Factor – $200
  • Moving House – $200

All graduates receive Certificates of Completion from the Institute upon successful completion of the course.

Visit the I.I.M.B. Shop to purchase your course of choice.

If you live in a country that is not serviced by PayPal or you are otherwise unable to use PayPal (which accepts credit cards) to make your payment, please contact the Institute to be guided through bank wire or other money transfer procedures.

Serving the Wealthy-Private Residence Butler On-line Course – course outline

Subjects covered on the full butler course include, among many others:

Module One

  • Outside Hollywood, What is a Butler?
  • From Slave to Servant to Staff: Changing Perceptions and Attitudes
  • The Many Faces of the Modern Butler

Module Two

  • Essence of a Butler
  • A Good Butler’s Basic Attributes
  • Butler communication skills

Module Three

  • Trappings and tools of the trade
  • How to set up and organize a butler pantry

Module Four

  • Butler Etiquette and How to Handle Various Tricky Situations with Aplomb
  • Predicting and Handling Others
  • How to Recognize and Avoid the Boss from Hell

Module Five

  • The Butler Administrator, Managing the Household
  • Keeping household accounts

Module Six

  • Staff Management, Dealing with Permanent Staff
  • Supervising, dismissing, disciplining Staff
  • Dealing with Temporary Staff
  • Dealing with Contractors, Suppliers and Services

Module Seven

  • The butler’s relationship with his/her employer(s)

Module Eight

  • Working with the Housekeeper
  • Making an Inventory
  • Silver-Cleaning, Storage and Purchase
  • Cleaning fine furniture and works of art

Module Nine

  • Working with the Chef
  • Running an Efficient Kitchen
  • Hygiene and Food Safety

Module Ten

  • The Bar and Wine Cellar
  • Pairing wine

Module Eleven

  • Cigars

Module Twelve

  • Keeping Inventory
  • Keeping Household Accounts
  • Home Safety and First Aid
  • Flowers
  • Driving and Cars

Module Thirteen

  • Looking After Guests
  • Overnight Guests
  • Tips
  • Visitors’ Book

Module Fourteen

  • Valet – The Gentleman’s Gentleman
  • Packing a Suitcase
  • Care of Clothes After They Have Been Worn
  • Cleaning Clothes
  • Know Before You Iron!
  • Purchasing Clothes

Module Fifteen

  • The butler as personal assistant

Module Sixteen

  • The Orchestration of Fine Eating Experiences
  • Meals to Remember
  • English Afternoon Tea
  • Setting the Table
  • Serving the Meal

Module Seventeen

  • Organizing other events and occasions

Module Eighteen

  • Moving House
  • Preparations at the Old House
  • Preparations at the New House
  • The Actual Move

Module Nineteen

  • Handling Security

Module Twenty

  • The Twenty-first Century Butler
  • How a Butler Should be Managed and Remunerated
  • Future Markets for Butlers

Module Twenty-one

  • For the Beginning Butler
  • The Tools of the Trade for the Twenty-first Century Butler
  • The Hiring Process
  • The Interview
  • Where to Start once You Arrive on Duty

Module Twenty-two

  • Butler as Toastmaster
  • Keeping the Occasion on Track





Ocean House, Rhode Island

Ocean House, Rhode Island

“I recently landed an Estates Manager position in France with one of the wealthiest Russian families of our times. My role includes managing a €60 million refurbishment at one of their sites in Côte d’Azur, while overseeing a Chalet in another region of France, including coordination of staff work, acting as a PA, and working very closely with the family office in London. This position utilizes all my previously gained skills, such as those related to service, sales, languages, and those I picked up at the university. Nevertheless, there is something that truly makes me feel confident and more comfortable when dealing with the Principal and his family—I am referring to the understanding of my role acquired during the course you took me through. It is definitely one of the most important things to have, as it already proves to be a big “service differentiator,” as you put it. I do consider this position to be a great success, not only because there is a big and interesting challenge involved, but also because the family itself is so respectful and diligent, they make you enjoy working for them. On top of that, they tripled my salary and provided me with a stunning, two-story apartment by the seaside.” OS

“This is to notify you that I have received my certificate via mail yesterday.
To say I am happy is  an understatement. I am filled with joy and most proud to have been able to complete the process against all odds.
I sincerely  want to thank Ms. Monica Ferry for refusing to let me stop and for not given up on me in the face of my many shortcomings due to diverse challenges I encountered.
Thank you, Mr. Vargas for seeing me through the program. I appreciate your keen eye to detail, you made me more focused.
I also want to thank Mr. Frank Mitchell; to my mind he is the most patient and wonderful tutor who saw me through the dark years of my studies which ordinarily would have been a study for just a few months. I am blessed to have had him teach me the excellent art of service.
Above all,  my thanks to Professor Steven Ferry who supervised my every course work and accessed me worthy to bear the seal as a certified Bulter from his prestigious institute. I am hopeful I will have more to learn from the institute in terms of further studies.
Thank you all, God bless you all.”

“I am writing to express my gratitude for your utmost professional guidance and for the fantastic materials that you have created in the Correspondence Course.”

“From the moment I opened the Butlers & Household Managers book there was no way back for me. At that stage, I did not have any service background whatsoever, and it was a magical experience to discover my interest in the content of the book, enough even to prompt me to learn English. Beginning then on the course, I was amazed at the thoroughness of the materials—I understand the importance of every single Module.”

“No other butler school concentrates as much on the mindset of the butler, the understanding of which is paramount. I simply cannot think of a better idea than structuring the course on the butler mentality fundamentals. Everything else simply flows naturally from this understanding, which makes the studying process really enjoyable! The skills and knowledge I have gained are helping me in everyday life.”

“Some assignments were really challenging, but it was a pleasure to accept these challenges and broaden my capabilities in these fields.”

“I honestly think that you are the best teacher that I have ever had (!), and your personal approach and expertise is what makes the studying process interesting. Without doubt, your personal example will serve as a reference point throughout my career and beyond!”

“The value of what you give to people like me cannot be assessed with money. To summarize my experience with the Private Service Butler and Household Manager course, I feel that it can offer as much for beginners as it does to people with work experience in the service industry. Absolutely sterling!”

“The correspondence course gave me the entire scope of the duties and responsibilities of the multi-skilled butler in meeting the differing needs of employers around the world.
I now understand the butler’s frame of mind and his intention to achieve remarkable service. My great gratitude to my teacher for his guidance.”

“I want to thank the Institute for the excellent training they provided. I am very proud to now be one more butler with a certificate from this reputed training center, able to offer my services in hospitality venues as well as private estates.”

The following comments from a university professor as he progresses through the course:

“I hope all the assignments in the course are this much fun.”

 “This is a wonderful module, very thought provoking.”

“I have most enjoyed Module 1.  I didn’t expect to enjoy the videoed programs quite so much as I actually do; and pondering the questions after gives me extra insight it the videos themselves.  Great job on Module 1!”

“I look forward to the new assignments.  This set was thought-provoking, instructive, and fun.”

“Thank you for your prompt and very kind review.”

“I can’t thank you too many times, nor overstate my gratitude, for your help through this material.”

“This whole set of modules from section five of the course has been most instructive and great fun.  As always, should you require changes, I shall be happy to try again.  I have come to enjoy and trust your comments on my work.  The times I have needed to do things again, I have been better off for it.”

“Thank you for your very prompt and very helpful reply, as always. I have observed in life that there are few truly dependable people.  You are proving  to be one of them.”