The market for modern servants is booming, but some institutions that have regularly offered “butler training” are troubled by upstarts looking to profit from one of the few growing career niches.

Frances Robinson of The Wall Street Journal has this analysis:

The white gloves are on in the fight to serve the growing ranks of the superrich.

New academies for domestic staff are opening doors world-wide, while existing schools are busier than ever. But as the market for talent booms, some established types are fretting about the upstarts and their newfangled ways.

“I’ve been fighting against the many, many charlatans in this business forever, and I will do so for the rest of my life,” says Robert Wennekes, chief executive of The International Butler Academy. “There are too many out there who claim that they’re butlers when they’re not.”

Mr. Wennekes blanches at the thought. He isn’t overly impressed by technology, and he definitely doesn’t condone over familiarity.

Certain indignities bother him more than others. Mr. Wennekes recalls, for instance, one student who had been taught by another school to pull the toe of a sleeping principal if he wasn’t awake in time for his breakfast tray.

“If my butler did that to me, I’d kick him out,” says Mr. Wennekes.

After a career culminating in the role of head butler at the U.S. Embassy in Germany, Mr. Wennekes started a recruitment agency for domestic staff. Soon after, in 1999, he set up the school to train candidates himself when demand began to outpace supply.

Vincent Vermeulen, a former butler himself, sees things differently. He recently set up the School for Butlers and Hospitality in Brussels. The outfit’s four-week course, as outlined on its website, aims to “prepare students to face challenges of the modern international household.”

Students stay in touch on the school’s Facebook page, instructors keep teaching notes on iPads and a postgrad butling app is in the works. Mr. Vermeulen beseeches students to be of service in a 21st-century kind of way—ready with smartphone chargers and condoms, as well as shoeshine kits and hair pomade.

Others are on a similar wavelength. “Times are changing, and we’re using technology that we weren’t using back in the ‘Downton Abbey’ days,” says Sara Vestin Rahmani, director of the London-based Bespoke Bureau. “If somebody wants a super-modern, high-tech, Mac-ified, BlackBerry-fied 25-year-old female multitasker,” her agency can provide that, she says.