I’ve covered the big why of butler school and some other thoughts, and mention it frequently, but I relatively frequently hear from people interested in starting the course (the International Institute of Modern Butlers’ Full 400 Hour Private Residence Butler/Household Manager Online Course) who want more information, and often a recommendation on if I think the course is right for them. I thought I’d lay out my most frequent answers here.
To recap the positive, the obvious pro to taking the course is the education. I have learned a lot, and a lot of it has been very applicable for me as a service slave. Other parts may come in handy later, are just interesting, help me answer questions when I teach/etc., or get used in my writing. I think pretty much anyone could learn a lot from this course that they would find applicable, though exact levels will vary. If you are not seriously interested in service, I think the course might be boring. I find a lot of the types of hard skills I’ve learned in the course to be somewhat missing within kink education, so it’s filled in a lot of those for me.
Another good thing about a professional course is the confidence it gives you. It sets a clear bar that you will reach by the time it’s done, and gives you a highly qualified instructor and a piece of paper to tell you that you know what you’re talking about (once that’s true), on a professional level. That’s a feeling it can be hard to get out of attending large kink classes, and asking personal partners for feedback, and is very valuable for some people. If you’re shrugging at this, it might not be as valuable for you emotionally.
Those are what I consider to be the big pros. Now, let’s reality check.
Firstly, there’s the money (always the buzzkill, I know). The course itself currently costs $2,500. This is just for the course itself. This does not count the course texts/resources (those are several hundred dollars more—many are pricey, hard to find locally, hence shipping costs, and you’ll need several of them on demand throughout the course, hence, hard to borrow, even if you can find them at your library). They currently estimate about $350 for books, and I think that is on the low end of what you could reasonably pull off, buying local/used, borrowing where you can, etc. This also does not count literally anything else you’ll need for the course, including required in person experiences, course appropriate clothing for pictures and videos, needed tools and supplies, basic technology, so on, as they come up. Be prepared; it would suck to get stuck on an assignment because you don’t have money for supplies, or are waiting on a book to ship. I know a lot of kinksters are on a budget. I was able to set aside part of my inheritance for this course.
Secondly, there’s the other logistics. The time, focused space to work, the people in your life respecting those things, so on. The course says it takes four hundred hours to complete. I haven’t time tracked the course in detail, but… suffice to say, personally, it took me about two years to get about halfway through the course. You will be putting a lot of time in, that time will demand a lot of your energy, and this course will probably be A Part Of Your Life for quite a while, as actually doing it full time is, I think, very unlikely, due to the energy involved and also waiting on your instructor, in person experience opportunities, buying supplies, etc. Planning out your coursework time in advance can be difficult—I’ve tried many ways of doing it—due to that waiting, and because modules vary wildly in length, assignment types, so on, and you can only see the module you are currently on. So, be flexible in your approach.
As far as space: it will come down to your preferences. Some assignments will demand a space where you can take pictures/video or do certain practical assignments in the household, and then there are specific field trips. For the reading/written assignments, things where you’ll mostly need textbooks and a computer, anywhere you focus best works. The textbooks are large, heavy, and numerous if you get them in physical form (and several of them only come in physical form), and don’t always travel well. Working at home if you can, or really setting up camp somewhere with enough surface area, for a while, will probably be best. I’ve found working in cafes with plenty of seating or coworking spaces best when I want to get out of the house.
Next, you’ll probably want a cover story. While generally I believe honesty is the best policy… I have found the course to be very conservative. As in, the fact I’m a young, American woman seems out there enough. Personally, I can get away with a few terminology swaps (“Mistress” and “employer”), omission, and tiny detail tweaks. To get the most out of the course and keep your story straight, though, I recommend being as honest as possible. If nothing else, feedback based on largely the truth is going to be much more useful to you than feedback based on lies. How close to the truth you can stick is going to depend on your exact situation.
Let’s talk about the energy, effort, and emotions involved. This course is a lot of work. Mental work—several thousand pages of reading. There are single assignments that call for reading a dry, eight-hundred page book. (And, yes, too many detailed, related assignments to fake it—and besides, if you’re going to fake your way through applicable reading, why take this course?) There’s also an emphasis on written assignments at times (including long essays on how to clean every material known to humankind). Be ready to use your verbal energies. Personally, this is a strongsuit of mine, which helps a lot.
If you keep up with applying the standards of the course, there’s a lot of physical work—cooking, cleaning, and many forms of serving are all manual labor, and the course assumes you are doing this on a full time basis, before extra coursework. This may or may not actually be the case for you, and I do think you should make what you learn work for you, the person you’re serving, and your dynamic in terms of what you apply long term, but I do want to point out what the course calls for. I’ve definitely had to work on my health to keep up.
This all can bring about a lot of emotions. The course will ask you early on to really take a look in the mirror and really evaluate your goals, your feelings, your reality, your strengths and weaknesses (and really work on them). You will probably have to conquer some small fears, and definitely work hard, beyond your comfort zone. You’ll almost certainly try new things (whether you like it or not, if you want to finish the course). You will generally have to get/keep yourself and your household together. You’ll learn how to serve with compassion in situations that sound ridiculous right now, how to always communicate efficiently with both transparency and respect. You’ll have to make a fool of yourself on camera until you get it right (and you will be asked to redo it again, and again, and again). You’ll learn how to polish silver and arrange flowers and pour wine down to details you’ve probably never heard of. In short, there will be growing pains. And that’s okay. But you have to be ready. If difficulty demotivates you, you might not be.
Be aware that your instructor is someone you will have a professional relationship with. Expect that assignment you had all those emotions over to be met with “fine, pass” if you did well, and tough feedback and “redo” if not. (Yes, sometimes you will get enthusiastic praise—but it’s infrequent.) If you need a lot of positive reinforcement and reassurance to stay motivated, you might want to arrange for that with yourself, the person you’re serving, a friend, so on.
Personally, I’ve found that, to generalize: the harder something is, the more I want it—so this all helps keep me motivated to do my best at coursework.
So, is butler school right for you? Maybe. It’s not something I would recommend to everyone. It’s not something I would recommend to most people, to be honest. But it could be very valuable for the right person. I’m not trying to scare anyone off of it—I decided it was right for me, after all—but I do want to be honest about the difficult parts, given the investment it is. Ultimately, the decision is yours. But since I get the question and requests for more details fairly often, I wanted to lay more information out here to refer to.
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