Terms You Should Know Breaking Into the Domestic Industry

domestic industry terms describe each of these home staff workers.
Historic picture of Domestic staff. There are different terms and skill sets for each staff.

Know the Terms for the domestic industry


When I first started working in the domestic field I had no idea what certain domestic industry terms were or what the different roles were.  It took me a while to gather up and understand the terms and job description titles for certain positions.  http://lockedomestic.com/household-staff-job-descriptions-titles-salaries.  The main term I was hearing all the time was the word “Principal.”  I thought what a strange thing to say or use the word principal when you are working at someone’s home.  For example, “the principal is not in today.”  I was saying to myself, this is not a school, what does a principal have anything to do with my job working in a home?  So I’m here to inform the uninitiated of the different terms that could be helpful to know if you endeavor a career in the domestic industry.

Principal = Chief or head man or woman.  Basically it means the owner, but you can say in a more sophisticated way, the principal is out today or the principal has left the house.  Instead of saying the owner has left or the owner is over there.  It is more proper and correct to use the term principal in this field.

Estate Manager verses House Manager

The next terms and roles I want to clear up is what is an Estate Manager compared to a House Manager.  To the outside world these roles are the same, but they have such different capacities in the domestic realm.  An Estate Manager is the person who will take care of all the estate properties of the principal’s. This means an Estate Manager is over, could be, two or more large houses or manors. Running everything or making sure everything stays coordinated and working at all the properties.

Now we get the House Manager role.  A House Manager is running the day to day operation of the house.  Making sure everything is getting cleaned, stocked, running the staff, making sure schedules and budgets are kept.  It really depends the division of roles as to what is expected of the House Manager.  In general, an Estates Manager is responsible for the over all big picture.  A House Manager is just responsible for a single house and all of its details.  See my website for a list of duties and as an example of what a House Manager does, http://www.KellyQualityEstates.com

Personal Assistants

Usually there is a Personal Assistant.  A crucial element to keep everything in focus, rolling and accomplishing the goals of the principal.  Personal Assistants do everything from scheduling, to travel arrangements, to keeping track of all the finances.  It really depends on how the roles are divided up and what staff are there to share the load as to what the PA duties are going to be.


This is a role that seems to get to combine all the above described duties into one.  They get to be the catch all for every kind of duty that needs to be performed except or not usually housekeeping or taking care of the kids.  Any house to be considered an estate has housekeeping. Housekeeping is self explanatory, there is no need to delineate that role.  Nannies are a role everyone is familiar with.  A butler on the other hand is a bit of a jack of all trades.  Doing whatever the family needs to be done.  When a butler is employed there is definitely a more formal aspect to the house.    I suppose if the family does not want to hire a lot of staff they will just have a Butler do everything, except clean and take care of kids.


It really depends on the needs of the principal as to what staff and duties need to be performed and accomplished.  The modern domestic industry is interesting, expanding and evolving.  Steeped in tradition, some principals relish the formal lifestyle and yet others strike out to define their own rules and way of living.  It is interesting to be in this industry and see how it is changing and evolving. This is just a documentation from my experience and point of view.  https://kellyqualityestates.com/domestic-staffing-life-in-los-angeles/

This could be the look of todays modern domestic industry workers.
Image of modern domestic staff workers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *