Official Beekeeper and Other Weird Jobs at the White House

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: The White House/Flickr

The inner-workings of the White House are often a mystery to the public. Behind those doors is a whole network of people in charge of everything from the drapes on the windows to the logistics of getting the president's groceries. Would you have guessed that the White House has a chief floral designer or an executive pastry chef? If you're curious about all the strange jobs the White House has to offer, then keep reading.

Chimney Sweep

While the title harkens back to earlier times, chimney sweeps are still indeed a thing in the 21st century. After all, chimneys do still exist. Because of its construction date, the White House has a whopping 35 of them, and eventually, someone has to clean them.

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Photo Courtesy: fotofixautomat/Needpix

The chimneys require cleaning once every two years, and the job is such a big one that a whole team is assembled to take care of it. The surprising part? These chimney sweeps work for free. Their voluntary work is a tradition started back in 1993.

Body Man

A president's body man has a complicated role, which is part of the reason why the title is such a strange one. They act as a personal assistant, valet and friendly companion all rolled into one.

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Photo Courtesy: kansasphoto/Flickr

The duties of the body man include serious business like paperwork and special documents, but also more unusual things like conveying the president's musical preferences or book selection. President Obama and his body man, Reggie Love, were a famously close pair, often shooting hoops together in what little free time they had.

Ethics Advisor

It shouldn't be surprising that the president runs up against plenty of ethical dilemmas during their tenure. For exactly this reason, the ethics advisor position was created to lend a helping hand in making difficult decisions. To qualify for the job, you must have extensive knowledge of government rules regarding ethics.

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Photo Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

You must also be willing to be at the president's beck and call, day or night. Obama's ethics advisor sometimes had to consult with the president over fifteen times a day! It's certainly no easy position.

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Executive Pastry Chef

One of the more whimsical job titles at the White House is the executive pastry chef. Don't be fooled, however, because the person in this role still has a lot on their plate. They are the one responsible for creating the famous White House gingerbread house.

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Photo Courtesy: Obama White House/Flickr

Every November, the gingerbread house is unveiled at a special showing to tens of thousands of people. It must go above and beyond in style, grandeur and deliciousness. Needless to say, this job is a highly respected one, even if it’s humbly compensated at under $60,000 a year.

Chief Data Scientist and Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy

Oof, this job title is a mouthful. The Chief Data Scientist and Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy, or CDSCDTODP for short, wasn't always a role at the White House. President Obama created the job for one man: Dhanurjay Patil.

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Photo Courtesy: TechCrunch/Flickr

Essentially, what Patil did was analyze data and improve the way the White House and general public were able to see and understand it. Patil stepped down from the role in 2017, and President Trump doesn't seem concerned about finding a replacement.

Usher

The White House usher runs the daily affairs at the president's residence, overseeing service staff and operations. The usher’s close proximity to the president's intimate life means that sometimes, they see things they might have preferred not to. One famous example of this is what happened to usher Skip Allen during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

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Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

As the story goes, Allen had to deliver some very important information. Reagan was just stepping out of the shower when Allen entered, and he witnessed the president wearing nothing but water. Reagan later teased him about it.

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Barber

Presidents need their hair cut, too! This job is an incredibly important one, considering how often the president's face appears on television and in front of large crowds. They need to look their best at all times, and that means hiring some adept hands. President Obama even chose to bring in his old barber from Chicago.

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Photo Courtesy: Pikrepo

One barber was so popular he became something of a celebrity. Milton Pitts served several Republican presidents and was known for his loud personality. He became so famous that he went on Late Night with David Letterman.

Portrait Artist

Another strange job to get at the White House is the role of portrait artist. Only the best of the best are selected to do the job, and the stakes are high — if the president doesn't like it, he might just rip it to shreds.

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Photo Courtesy: Pikrepo

That's what President Theodore Roosevelt did in 1902 when he thought Théobald Chartran's portrait of him was too effeminate. While it might be a difficult job, it's one that needs to be filled every time a new president is elected, and many would jump at the chance.

Stenographer

A stenographer's job description may sound like a simple one, but it is no easy task. They are instructed to record every single word the president says throughout the day. Getting things correct is crucial, as the smallest slip-up could lead to dangerous miscommunications.

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Photo Courtesy: Mike Gifford/Flickr

This high-stakes job pays handsomely for it's difficulty — almost $100,000 annually — and one ex-stenographer described the experience as getting paid to "stalk" the president. If you're a good listener and have great attention to detail, you might just be able to land yourself a job at the White House.

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Engineer

The White House engineers work in the same shop as the White House carpenters, which is located in the White House basement. Together, these workers are tasked with the upkeep and creation of White House furniture and equipment. These people are hidden away in the furthest corner of the building, and they work 24/7.

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Photo Courtesy: W. Eugene Barnett/Wright Patterson AFB

One of their most important duties is to maintain temperature control. When you think about it, the White House is like one big museum, and the right temperature is necessary to protect the priceless pieces inside.

Presidential Correspondence Team

If you've ever sent a letter to the president, chances are a member of the presidential correspondence team looked at it. These are the people that sift through, read and sometimes respond to letters from the public. Oftentimes, they're letters from kids written for a class assignment.

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Photo Courtesy: Free-Photos/Pixabay

Depending on the specific president's wishes, the team might select a handful of letters for the president to read personally. In President Obama's case, he asked to read ten letters every night. That's a lot of importance given to the voices of the people.

Records Management Analyst

The records management analyst is hired to be an organizer. They're the ones that deal with the huge influx of documents to and from the White House and decide where things go. Scanning, indexing and analyzing important papers are all a part of the job description.

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Photo Courtesy: Pxfuel

Needless to say, you need to have a keen eye for detail to pull this off. You also have to be able to track documents on their winding circulation throughout the government. If it sounds easy, it's because you've never seen the amount of papers generated by the White House!

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Calligrapher

This is one of the more fun job opportunities at the White House. Calligraphers are employed year-round to artfully write the plentiful invitations the White House sends out on a regular basis. This handmade touch is classier and more personal than creating something digitally.

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Photo Courtesy: Joyce N. Boghosian/Official White House Photo

The top calligrapher at the White House makes around $100,000 a year, which may sound like a lot, but it's not without reason. It's their handiwork that is shown to the most respected leaders in the world, including kings and queens.

Uniformed Division

Given that the White House is the central hub of the country's executive branch, it can attract some unwanted attention. Unfortunately, all presidents receive death threats and attempts on their lives, no matter their stance on political matters.

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Photo Courtesy: Gabriel Silva/Wikimedia Commons

This is where the uniformed division of the secret service comes in. These people patrol the White House grounds and periphery and are the ones in charge of stopping direct attacks from the outside. They deal with any crazy bystanders trying to scale the fence or enter in their car.

Social Aide

Social aides do exactly what you think they do: aid in social functions. These military volunteers show up to swanky dinners or celebrations and are on a mission to make others feel comfortable and welcome so that they enjoy themselves. The position is unpaid, at least monetarily-speaking.

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Photo Courtesy: The U.S. National Archives/Flickr

Instead, social aides earn themselves high-up connections they make at these parties. Celebrities and royalty are often in attendance, and they get to rub elbows with the elite. Any social aide you come across is sure to have countless stories about the famous and powerful.

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Director of Oval Office Operations

Everyone knows about the Oval Office. It's where big meetings take place and where the president spends a lot of time while on the job. You might not be aware, however, that there's someone in charge of this room besides the president. This would be the director of Oval Office operations.

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Photo Courtesy: The White House/Flickr

Not only do they oversee everyone that steps into this sacred area, but they make sure the president is prepared to attend to them as well. They make sure the guest's favorite food and drink are available and prep the room beforehand.

Director of the Presidential Gift Office

Just like thousands of people want to send the president letters, many also want to send the president gifts. There are plenty of strange gifts past presidents have received, including a giant wheel of cheese, but the president doesn't actually get to keep these gifts.

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Photo Courtesy: Piqsels

The director of the presidential gift office keeps track of all the gifts coming in and makes sure they are sent to the National Archives. That's right — any gift to the POTUS gets locked away unless the POTUS decides to buy it from the sender.

Beekeeper

You may be surprised to learn that the White House has its very own beehive on the grounds — and every beehive must have a beekeeper. The bees haven't been around forever, though. It was Michelle Obama who had the idea of bringing them in to help pollinate her garden.

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Photo Courtesy: Ivan Radic/Flickr

The bees remain at the White House to this day, and the chief pastry chef now doubles as their beekeeper. It's not necessarily an occupation you'd think the White House would employ, but a beekeeper is indeed necessary to daily life.

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Director of Comment Line

Even though it's hard to get your voice heard by the president, you might be able to get it heard by the director of the comment line. This position includes manning phones and listening to public input on a daily basis .In other words, it’s one of the more difficult jobs to deal with.

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Photo Courtesy: Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Department of Defense

Imagine having to receive all the hate, love and everything in between that citizens of the United States have for the president. It's exhausting, and in addition to this, the director controls greetings and voluntary work related to the White House.

Head Gardener

Where there's a garden, there's a gardener! The head gardener for the White House isn't just in charge of the flowers and veggies growing in the garden; they also maintain the glossy green lawn. After all, those shrubs don't remain picture-ready all on their own.

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Photo Courtesy: PhotoAC/Pixabay

Some past gardeners have devoted the majority of their lives to caring for the White House property, and it's a position that's highly respected in the profession. No one is quite sure how much money they make, but the honor of the position alone is impressive.

Digital Content Producer

When the presidency first started, there wasn’t a digital content producer, for reasons that should be as self-evident as the truths in the Declaration of Independence. As technology has improved, however, an online presence has become necessary even for U.S. presidents. Every time the president makes an official appearance or presents a speech, the digital content producer gets it up online.

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Photo Courtesy: Piqsels

Essentially, anything related to the internet goes through this individual first. While this official’s work is vital, their pay is only modest — under $80,000. However, those who take the position gain a truly impressive point on their resume.

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Director of Video Production

Just as the White House needs people to manage their online presence, they also need someone in charge of the cameras. The president and his staff are constantly being filmed, and the director of video production makes sure those videos meet the highest standards.

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Photo Courtesy: Barack Obama Presidential Library

The director is in charge of leading a whole team of videographers. Strong leadership abilities, good improvisation skills and of course, the ability to use a camera well are all prerequisites. Land this job and you'll see a paycheck over $80,000.

Travel Manager

If you think planning your vacation to Europe is stressful, imagine being a travel manager for the president. The POTUS is almost always traveling from one place to another, hopping between countries and paying visits to the government of each.

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Photo Courtesy: Kat Lynn Justen/Joint Base Andrews

Travel managers are part of a whole travel team that arranges the logistics of international plane flights, car rides, lodgings and cross-country bus trips for the White House. They make sure that any White House-related travel goes off without a hitch — and that the president stays safe the entire time.

Housekeepers

You might not think that being a housekeeper is a strange job, but things are different at the White House. These maids and footmen are the absolute best at what they do, and they're made up of roughly 90 employees cleaning a total of 132 rooms.

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Photo Courtesy: Obama White House/Flickr

Housekeepers are paid to keep a low profile. They discreetly wait for the family to leave a room before cleaning up behind them to avoid impeding their personal lives. Even so, White House housekeepers are privy to intimate secrets the general public can only guess at.

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General Service Staff

The general service staff at the White House pulls off feats that other White House employees can only imagine. Most famously, these miracle workers turn over the entire White House mansion when a new president moves in — and they do it all in under six hours.

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Photo Courtesy: The U.S. National Archives/Flickr

The former president's things are packed away, their portrait is taken down and a new one is hung, and the carpets are cleaned and furniture swapped so that everything is sparkling new for the next president. It's an all-hands-on-deck moment when this day rolls around, and everyone is necessary for the successful transformation.

Speechwriter

One of the hardest jobs at the White House is that of a speechwriter. When done well, it can result in marvelous speeches that ingratiate the president with the public. When done wrong, well, things go a little haywire. The most important factor in a successful speechwriter is their understanding of the current president.

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Photo Courtesy: Obama White House/Flickr

Each president is different, so a speechwriter must get used to their mannerisms and personality quirks before they can write something in their voice. Their job is essential, however, since the president is often too busy to write speeches from scratch.

Chief Official White House Photographer

Before the position of the chief official White House photographer became a thing, photographs of the president were taken by any old military photographer. For eleven years, though, this new job opening has been filled by prestigious civilian photographers that capture the day-to-day events in the president's life.

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Photo Courtesy: The White House/Flickr

Landing this job as a photographer means you're pretty much set — and that your reputation has reached its peak. As with every job at the White House, only the most talented are awarded the job. Aspiring photographers look at this gig as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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Secret Service

Even though everyone knows about the existence of the secret service, their job is still a pretty strange one. After all, they devote their entire careers — and sometimes lives — to protecting one person, whether or not they agree with their policies.

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Photo Courtesy: Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons

It's the secret service that screens the president's food before he consumes it to make sure no poison is present. They’re on high alert 24 hours, seven days a week for any threat to the president's life. Without them, the White House would not be able to function.

Head Chauffeur

If there's one worker at the White House likely to know details about top-secret information, it's the head chauffeur. The driver of the president has a big job; they have to ensure the president's safety on the roads and get them where they need to go.

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Photo Courtesy: Obama White House/Flickr

They also have the privilege of being mere feet away from the POTUS while important phone calls take place and when guests accompany the president on a drive. Needless to say, they must overhear some juicy gossip during their career, though they would never share.

Chief Floral Designer

Did you think immaculate flower decorations simply appeared at the White House? Or that any old party planner picked them out from a florist? Well, you would be wrong. There is one individual whose job it is to plan and arrange the floral decorations for all White House events: the chief floral designer.

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Photo Courtesy: Obama White House/Flickr

They take all the credit when it comes to flowers, and rightfully so. No petal can be brown or wilted, and every flower must be perfectly in place before the festivities begin — and the floral designer takes this responsibility very seriously.

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