On-line Courses – Hospitality

Learning to Pack
Learning to Pack

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 (which do not train hospitality butlers at this time, only private service butlers), then an online, long-distance learning course becomes a viable option.

These courses are for:

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


  • 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 Institute currently offers a course developed especially for Hospitality Butlers, as well as a course for Hospitality Housekeepers, which is adapted from the butler course.


Both 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. All students have an open line via e-mail to their instructors for questions about their course materials and assignments, and to receive guidance on professional matters.

The Butler course takes about 400 hours of study (8-10 weeks full-time, longer on a part-time schedule). This is comparable to an 8-10 week course offered in a bricks-and-mortar school. But unlike a bricks-and-mortar school, or even an on-site course at your hotel or resort, 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 fully master it.

The course costs US$2,500. Students must purchase their own course materials (books & DVDs) via Amazon.com (or other suitable providers), which will cost approximately US $250-$300 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). As a note, from experience we’ve learned that shipping to foreign locations may cost as much as US $300 in addition to the costs of purchasing the books and DVDs.

Students may pay in three installments for this full Butler course.

The (Hospitality) Housekeeper course takes about 200 hours of study (5 weeks full-time, longer on a part-time schedule), and costs US $1,000, which must be paid in full before starting the course. Four books and two DVDs must be purchased for this course (similarly via Amazon.com) for a total cost of about US $150 plus shipping.

Students within the US can pay using a credit card, PayPal or Western Union. Students outside of the US may use PayPal, Western Union or a money service such as Wise.com.

If you live outside of the United States, and do not have a credit card or access to PayPal, please contact the Institute to be guided through bank wire or other money transfer procedures.

Visit the I.I.M.B. Shop to purchase your course of choice, or email the Institute for assistance.

The Institute offers discounted rates for hotel butler students living in regions with wage scales that might put paying for the course beyond their reach as individuals. Contact the Institute to find out if you qualify. You will be required to provide evidence that shows you qualify for a discount based on your income.

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

Hesitating about what sort of training is the best for you? Read the IIMB chairman’s article on the Training Path Choices here.

The Institute is a Founding Member of the International Luxury Hotel Association and the Alliance of Professional Butler Trainers (https://www.butlersalliance.com/).

Hospitality Butler Online Course – subjects covered include:

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

  • 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 Four

  • The Butler Department and How to Run It
  • Acceptance of a New Idea Does Not Just Happen
  • The Organizing Chart for the Butler Department
  • Managing Work Load
  • Communication and communication systems within the Butler Department
  • Working with the Housekeepers
  • Working with the Kitchen/Food & Beverage Department
  • Butler’s Etiquette, Comportment and Walk
  • Daily Duties/Graces
  • The Greening of Butlers
  • Some General Pointers Concerning Personal Etiquette and Professionalism

Module Five

  • Looking After Guests
  • Customizing
  • Day of Arrival
  • Welcoming the Guest
  • Typical Butler Services
  • Shopping
  • Showing Interest
  • Some More Pointers
  • Accepting Tips
  • Visitors’ Book

Module Six

  • 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 Seven

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

Module Eight

  • Other Social Occasions, How to Manage

Module Nine

  • The Spa Butler
  • Types of Guests
  • Preparing for Guest Arrival
  • In-Suite Spa Services
  • General Guidelines for Drawing a Therapeutic Bath

Module Ten

  • Dealing with Security Issues

Module Eleven

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

Module Twelve

  • The Butler as a Toastmaster
  • Making Toasts
  • Keeping the Occasion on Track

Module Thirteen

  • New Ideas for an Old Profession

Training Path Choices

Training at the front end of any career, and ongoing until the day we retire, at least, is a given for butlers and household or estate(s) managers today. In the old days, the only training route was on-the-job training and apprenticeship that was hands-on heavy, light on theory, and limited in scope. The results were narrowly focused manual skills and not much in the way of managerial expertise.

Today, we have two additional avenues: bricks-and-mortar butler schools providing anything from 2-8 weeks of training with varying degrees of effectiveness and for prices ranging from a couple of thousand to $15,000. The advantages include working with peers, face-to-face tutorials, and field trips, and often, preferential placement efforts upon graduation. 

The other avenue, perhaps more in tune with the digital world in which we live, is online courses. Their weaknesses are the very strengths of the bricks-and-mortar schools; whereas the strengths of online courses include a significantly lower fee (typically $2,000 – $3,000 for study hours on a par with an eight-week residential course); zero costs for travel, room and board; and for those currently in the work force, neither loss of income for the trainee nor interruption of service for the employer during the training. Additionally, because more subjects are covered, the training tends to be deeper, or can certainly be made far deeper by the student taking ancillary courses locally on such as wines, cigars, flower arranging, advanced driving, firearm and security, etc.

An independent survey was conducted recently into preferred training methods, which is well worth reviewing. Key points established were:

Ø  Only about 50% of people feel they have the learning opportunities they need in their work;

Ø  People like to learn at home more than anywhere else;

Ø  If they have a choice between learning on computers, tablets, mobile phones or reading a printed document, they pick a computer. Mobile phones came last;

Ø  The preferred duration for learning is 16-30 minutes, by a very large margin;

Ø  Learning opportunities are critical to job satisfaction.

Furthermore, according to the survey results, people most desire self-paced learning and to put information into practice immediately. Anyone who has done any of the Institute’s online courses knows that’s exactly the way their Institute training was conducted. The courses were designed and written by the Chairman, who has worked for decades as an educator, specializing in cutting-edge education methods, as well as by Professor Ratliff, likewise an educator for decades. Where an employer is paying for the training (as opposed to self funding), a visit to the estate by Institute personnel at the conclusion of the training can ensure full application of the materials and certainty on the part of the trainee, which are, after all, the ultimate purposes of any training.

Bricks-and-mortar schools and online courses appeal to different groups with different needs, goals, and barriers, so one cannot say that one is better than the other: only that it is a blessing for the profession that we have choices. Even the old hands-on training on the job is still available in a few stately homes and such as Buckingham Palace for those who want authentic and traditional training. Certainly in combination with the other two forms of training, they are valuable experience and CV/resume builders.


“I just completed my training as a Hotel Butler via the International Institute of Modern Butlers’ correspondence course. 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 and on private estates. I will continue to work, as I have done during my training, in the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Rome, Italy. I plan to promote our profession more and more and keep the Institute’s name at the high level it deserves.

Today, the International Institute of Modern Butlers is one of the most renowned Butler training centers for one simple reason: the service they offer is on a par with the respect they have gained in both the hospitality and the private service markets.

The Institute facilitated payment for the course and made it easy for me, providing me with a choice that helped me reach my objective, which was to obtain certification with them.

I want to give a special thanks to Mr. Frank Mitchell, who, as my trainer, was a great support to me for several months, and helped me overcome the challenges I faced during the training period. Mr. Mitchell is a real emissary and example of a Modern Butler. He made me write many lines about integrity in this profession. Reading his comments on my essays, I was able to observe that all of the components that make up our professional Code of Ethics form an essential part of his own daily life. As such, he provides one more steel pillar for our profession and so helps Mr. and Mrs. Ferry, and all of his colleagues in the Institute, to further enhance the reputation of The International Institute of Modern Butlers.” HJL

“I have been a head butler for many years at a world-class resort and tried for a long time to find the right butler school to improve my knowledge. I finally found it in IIMB. I believe the Institute will become the best butler school in the world and am very proud to be one of its graduates.” BP