Careers in the Hospitality Business

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in the hospitality business. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education information. Schools offering Hospitality Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is the Hospitality Industry?

In the hospitality industry, you'll be required to have strong communication and people skills since you work directly with the public on a daily basis. Of the various careers available in this industry, you might start as a food and beverage service worker, then advance to a job in lodging management. Food and beverage workers do everything from cleaning tables and dishes to preparing and serving food. They take food and drink orders and clear up any problems between customers and the kitchen. Lodging managers oversee the front and back offices of their institution while also monitoring staff. They can also greet customers, answer questions, assign rooms, receive payment and also make tourist site recommendations.

The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary for two careers in this field.

Food and Beverage Service Worker Lodging Manager
Education Required None No minimum; bachelor's degree is helpful
Education Field of Study N/A Lodging management, marketing, communication, human resource management
Training Required On-the-job training is typical N/A
Key Responsibilities Prepare and sell food and/or beverages; assist patrons in making orders Supervise, coordinate and train lodging personnel; purchase and track inventory; monitor competing businesses; oversee and operate electronic reservations system
Job Growth (2014-24) 10%*8%*
Median Salary (2015) $19,040 (for food and beverage serving and related workers)*$49,720*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Hospitality Careers Can I Pursue?

Hospitality careers range from waiting tables to running a large hotel. At every level, the main goal of hospitality professionals is to ensure a pleasurable experience for their patrons. The variety of hospitality businesses includes restaurants, hotels, spas, cruise ships, resorts and other places that cater to guests. The combined food and beverage preparation and serving industry alone employed more than 3 million people in 2014, making it one of the largest job-providing sectors in the country, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Meanwhile, hotel and lodging jobs tended to be concentrated in urban and resort areas (www.bls.gov).

Some of the possible hospitality positions you could pursue include bartender, housekeeper, manager, waiter or groundskeeper. Hotels often employ concierges to assist guests with selecting restaurants or calling taxis. You could also be a recreation director or work in fitness for resorts and other leisure establishments. Some hotels operate casinos, so you could also find work as a card dealer or other gaming worker. With education and experience, advancement to management and administrative positions may be possible.

What Education Do I Need?

The BLS reported that most entry-level service positions do not require a post-secondary degree; however, if you obtain a bachelor's degree you can enhance your advancement opportunities. You can find restaurant and hospitality degree programs at schools around the country. Undergraduate majors include food service, restaurants, lodging and event management.

If you pursue a hospitality degree, you can take courses in hospitality finance, marketing and personnel management. If your focus is on food service, courses typically include catering, menu planning and food safety. A culinary degree can put you on the path to becoming a chef. In these programs, you can take courses in baking and pastry arts, nutrition and food sanitation. Culinary arts programs offer a focused curriculum designed to teach you the techniques associated with preparing a range of dishes.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

According to the BLS, earnings in hospitality can be lower than in other industries. Many hospitality professionals, such as bellhops and waitresses, are paid in both tips and hourly wages. General maintenance workers earned the highest non-supervisory median wage at approximately $17.61 per hour in 2015, reported the BLS. Lodging managers earned a median of approximately $49,720 in the same year. Your salary could vary significantly depending on your level of education, your job and your location.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A career related to a food and beverage service worker could be in retail sales. These workers do not have an educational requirement and usually receive on-the-job training from how to stock shelves to customer service.

For those looking for a career in management, a human resource manager or sales manager could be a good fit. Human resource managers run the administrative functions of a company or business. They recruit, interview and hire employees. They are also normally a part of the executive echelon in meetings making recommendations and decisions. Sales managers set goals, hire sales teams, and develop strategies to successfully get a company's products or services out to the public for consumption. Both of these careers in management need a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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