Domestic Staffing Descriptions ~ Call: 646-290-8891
Abbreviated Descriptions – Please click on the links for more detailed descriptions
An administrative assistant is a person, whose work consists of maintaining calendar, files, operating telephones, typing letters and other clerical functions. Some administrative assistants focus on planning travel, scheduling meetings, and expediting routine emails. Others act as project leaders or office managers and undertake complex tasks including, managing budgets and doing bookkeeping, maintaining websites, and making travel arrangements.
An au pair is a domestic assistant working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, au pairs take on a share of the family’s responsibility for childcare as well as some housework, and receive a small monetary allowance for personal use. They are often foreign-nationals of the country in which they are working.
A baby nurse is a seasoned professional who comes to your home and helps care for your newborn, usually right out of the hospital. A baby nurse does not have to be a Registered Nurse, but has extensive hands on experience and knowledge of infant care.
A bodyguard (or close protection officer) is a type of security guard who protects a client when home or in public, and helps maintain their privacy—usually a famous, wealthy, or politically important figure— assuring safety from assault, kidnapping, assassination, stalking, loss of confidential information, terrorist attack or other threats.
A butler is a servant in a wealthy, large household or estate. In great houses, the household is sometimes divided into departments with the butler in charge of the dining room, wine cellar, and pantry. Some also have charge of the entire parlor floor, men’s wardrobe, and housekeepers caring for the entire house and its appearance. The butler, as the senior servant, typically has the highest servant status. The butler is in charge of food service, wine, spirits, and silver, supervises other servants, and may perform a wide array of household management duties.
A caretaker is a person that has the responsibility of the maintenance of the property, buildings, and the smooth running of an estate, especially when done in the absence of the owner. This includes making sure the heating/cooling system is working, painting, gardening, plumbing, carpentry, car maintenance, cleaning, portering goods, moving furniture, doing repairs, ordering materials, and charge of maintenance equipment. A caretaker may be asked to assist with heavy cleaning duties within the house.
A chauffeur is responsible for driving clients, family members, and guests to social and professional appointments. Chauffeurs are expected to care for the vehicle(s) cleanliness & maintenance, and ensure the vehicle(s) are operating properly. A Chauffeur may also be required to run errands as the client desires.
Chef/Personal Chef/Private Chef
A chef prepares menus and food for the client/family, social events, and sometimes other staff. A chef is in charge of all things related to the kitchen which usually includes menu creation; management, scheduling kitchen staff; ordering; and plating design. Chef de cuisine is the traditional French term from which the English word chef is derived. The household Chef is responsible for anything food or kitchen-related, including organization, clean up, shopping for all food-related supplies and menu planning.
Companion/ Elder Care
A companion, sitter, or private duty may be a nurse, nurse assistant, or similar professional who is hired to work with one patient (or occasionally two). An aide providing care to one or more persons in a private home is generally referred to as a home health aide.
A cook is a household staff member responsible for food preparation. The term can refer to the head of kitchen staff in a large house, or to the cook-housekeeper entailing additional household duties outside of the kitchen.
Couple/ Domestic Couple/ Estate Couple
A domestic couple can range from high end experience, where one or both is capable of managing multiple properties, to those who prefer, by nature or experience, to just clean and cook. Most couples are married with the traditional roles of the woman caring for the interior of the home and the man performing indoor/outdoor maintenance and grounds keeping and periodic chauffeuring.
Estate Manager/House Manager
The estate manager, or household manager, usually the chief administrator serves in the primary role for managing the staff & services for one or more homes/estates.
An executive assistant differs slightly from a personal assistant or administrative assistant in the connotation of supporting an officer of a company, either public or private, who carries the authority to make crucial decisions affecting the direction of said organization, and is therefore a sought-after resource in decision-making and policy setting.
A gardener is an individual who manages the staff of a large garden, landscape, such as a residential garden, botanical garden, or estate garden. A Gardener may possibly have a degree in horticulture, and cares for formal gardens, lawns, shrubs, flowers and other greenery. The gardener also supervises any outside vendors who come on the grounds and orders supplies & equipment for the estate.
A gentleman’s gentleman or valet is a gentleman’s male servant, the closest male equivalent to a lady’s maid, who acts as a personal attendant to his employer. The valet performs personal services such as maintaining his employer’s wardrobe, running his bath, organizing drawers & closets, packing for travel, lay out clothes, and care of all personal items. In a bachelor’s household the valet might perform light housekeeping & personal assistant duties as well.
A governess is a nanny with formal education related to childcare or education that may home school / tutor children or be responsible for all aspects of childcare. Governesses are highly educated individuals who fill the role of both teacher, and academic & social mentor for the children.
A housekeeper performs typical domestic chores such as cooking, ironing, washing, cleaning the house, table service, grocery shopping, doing the laundry, ironing, dusting, silver polishing, vacuuming, running errands, walking the family dog, and taking care of children.
A Houseman, often the male version of a housekeeper, may have the additional duties of chauffeur/driver, cook, and valet. The houseman is usually responsible for the heavy housework, such as cleaning the hardwood and marble floors, vacuuming, polishing, vehicle maintenance, and repairs. Caretaker duties may also apply.
A lady’s maid is a female personal attendant who waits on the lady of the house. The position is very similar to a gentleman’s valet. The lady’s maid performs personal services such as maintaining her employer’s wardrobe, running her bath, organizing drawers & closets, packing for travel, lay out clothes, helping with her make-up, hairdressing, jewelry, shoes and care of all personal items. The lady’s maid may be the head-housekeeper & engage in personal assistant duties as well.
A laundress is charged with the maintenance and cleanliness of all garments. An understanding of fabrics, including household fabrics & couture fashion is a must.
Maids traditionally have a fixed position in the hierarchy of the large households, and although there is overlap between definitions (dependent on the size of the household) the positions themselves would typically be rigidly adhered to. The usual types of maid are:
- Lady’s maid (personal attendant to the employer)
- Chamber maid (specifically cleans and cares for bedrooms)
- Kitchen maid (reports to the chef/cook)
- Parlor maid (answerable to the housekeeper or butler)
- Nursery maid (specifically for looking after children; reports to governess/nanny)
- Upstairs maid
- More common in larger homes, these positions are usually responsible for assisting, cleaning, and maintaining in one particular area of the household.
The majordomo (or head butler) is responsible for the management of a household and staff, and sometimes acts as valet (gentleman’s gentleman) to the master of the house. Typically, the term refers to the highest (major) person of a household (domo) staff, one who acts on behalf of the (often absent) owner of a typically large residence.
A manny is a male nanny. Mannies are sometimes employed rather than a nanny where there is a need for a significant male figure in the life of a child.
A nanny is in charge of organizing and coordinating the children’s activities, preparing their meals, and keeping their rooms and play areas clean. He or she may have several years of college or a degree, and ideally a CPR or First Aid Certificate. Many nannies serve as house manager or personal assistant to the employer.
Personal Assistant – (PA)
A personal assistant or personal aide (PA) is someone who assists in daily business and personal tasks. A personal assistant would help with time and calendar management, scheduling of meetings, correspondence and note taking, keeping track of the family agenda, arranging for reservations of various events, travel bookings, event planning, secretarial responsibilities, shopping and running errands. The title of a personal assistant is often shortened as “PA”.
A steward directs, instructs, and assigns personnel performing such functions as preparing and serving meals, managing all aspects of the interior of the yacht, training staff, and silver service. Moreover, the steward oversees cleaning and maintaining quarters and steward department areas; receiving, issuing, and inventorying stores.