Discover examples of jobs in the hospitality industry, needed skills and education, and hospitality courses you can take to advance your career.
Hospitality management involves all the tasks and aspects associated with managing a hospitality business. These businesses focus on welcoming customers and providing them with pleasant experiences, whether through dining, lodging, events, entertainment, or travel.
Take a closer look at how hospitality management is different from hotel management and examples of hospitality management career paths. You'll also discover the skills and education you may need to succeed in this industry, the job outlook, and how to get started.
Hotel management has to do with the lodging industry only, and hospitality management involves a variety of industries. Hotel management is a type of hospitality administration. You'll find that most hospitality businesses fall under one of five key categories:
Food and beverage
Meetings and events
Travel and tourism
A background in hospitality management may open a variety of job opportunities. Here are some of the career paths you can take.
*All salary data sourced from Glassdoor June 2022
Hotel general managers use business, management, and interpersonal skills to oversee the day-to-day operations of a hotel, motel, lodge, inn, or resort. The various hotel department heads report directly to them, and they must have knowledge of all areas of hotel management. Depending on size, the departments within a hotel might include:
Food and beverage services
Kitchen and food production
Maintenance and engineering
Marketing and sales
The level of education needed for a hotel general manager depends on the size of the business. If you want to work for a full-service hotel, you'll likely need a bachelor's degree in hotel management or hospitality. Smaller hotels will often hire general managers with an associate degree. Luxury hotels may require you to have a master's degree in hospitality management.
Average annual salary (US): $67,918
In addition to mechanical and engineering knowledge, property operations managers need good organizational skills, a knack for time management, and an ability to work well individually. This position may also be referred to as a property maintenance manager.
As a property operations manager, you'll conduct regular inspections on properties such as resorts or hotels. Inspections help ensure that the property’s appearance is up to standard and that all parts of the property are operating normally. You will either do maintenance and repairs yourself or supervise your maintenance staff members.
You can take a few routes to get a job as a property operations manager after graduating from high school. Consider getting an apprenticeship, going to trade school, or getting a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering.
Average annual salary (US): $51,004
Restaurant managers perform all the tasks that ensure a restaurant runs smoothly, such as:
Dealing with customer problems
Overseeing food prep and plating
Ordering food and restaurant supplies
Special skills that might benefit you in this job include the ability to work under pressure, flexibility with your schedule, and good communication skills.
To become a restaurant manager, you can get a high school diploma and work your way up to the position in a restaurant, or you can get a degree. Many restaurant management positions call for at least an associate degree in restaurant management or hospitality management.
Average annual salary (US): $49,789
Front office managers are responsible for the operation of a front office. In the hospitality industry, this might be the front office of a hotel, a casino, an event company, or an eco-adventure business. Some duties may include:
Overseeing the front office staff
Answering phone calls
Interacting with customers
Some workplace skills you'll need include an ability to communicate in person and in writing, good supervisory skills, and the capacity to work well under pressure.
You'll need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent to become a front office manager and some experience working in a front office. Or, you can get an associate or bachelor's degree in communications, business management, or human resources.
Average annual salary (US): $42,740
A director of housekeeping is in charge of the housekeeping department in a business that provides lodging like a hotel or resort. Some duties include:
Hiring and training housekeeping staff
Managing staff schedules
Overseeing housekeeping needs for regular business and events
Helping out with cleaning tasks
To get a position as a director of housekeeping, you might only need a high school diploma or a GED and significant housekeeping experience. However, some housekeeping director positions require an associate degree in hotel management or hospitality management.
Special skills needed for this job include:
The ability to work well alone or with a team
Superior customer service
Average annual salary (US): $55,266
Sommeliers have a deep knowledge of wine and understand how to recommend and serve it to customers. Their knowledge of wine might include:
Types of grapes used to make wines
Where wine grapes are grown
Select wine regions around the world
The proper way to taste wine
To become a sommelier, it helps to have experience in a fine dining restaurant as a front-of-house attendant. It's possible to work your way up to a sommelier position, but an educational program designed specifically for sommeliers can be an efficient way to learn what you need to know. Examples of two institutions that offer sommelier education programs include the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS). The time it takes to get these certifications typically spans from about 18 months to three years.
Average annual salary (US): $60,908
Catering assistants work for catering companies, which prepare and serve meals for events. Special skills needed for this position include knowledge of food preparation, food service, and food safety. You'll also need good time management and customer service skills.
Catering assistant duties include:
Loading and unloading food and catering supplies
Washing, cutting, and peeling foods
Preparing salads and sauces
Setting up dining areas and buffets
To become a catering assistant, you'll usually need a high school diploma or the equivalent and some experience working in the food industry.
Average annual salary (US): $32,671
Travel agents plan different aspects of trips for travelers. Duties typically include conducting research and consulting with customers. They’re also responsible for booking flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels, tours, restaurant reservations, and event tickets. Special skills useful to travel agents include good verbal communication, time management, and the ability to work under pressure.
To become a travel agent, you'll need a high school diploma or the equivalent and at least a few courses in travel planning from a community college or a vocational school.
Average annual salary (US): $39,189
As a tour guide, you'll provide visitors or travelers with information about a particular place or a group of places. Examples include museums, government buildings, historic sites, parks, neighborhoods, and whole towns or cities. Additional job duties might include:
Providing maps and brochures
Translating for foreign visitors
Giving briefings on safety procedures
Special skills that benefit tour guides include:
An engaging personality
Comfortable at public speaking
The ability to stay organized
Foreign language skills
Average annual salary (US): $33,312
When you're an event planner, you're responsible for the activities that ensure an event goes smoothly. Your duties often include:
Booking event sites
Hiring caterers, entertainment, photographers, and other vendors
Consulting with customers
Negotiating vendor contracts
Supervising event setup and breakdown
Important event planner skills include time management, the ability to work under pressure, and attention to detail.
While some event planning jobs require an associate or bachelor's degree in hospitality management. Several certifications may also help you qualify for more positions. A few examples include Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM) or Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP).
Average annual salary (US): $41,189
As a marketing manager at a hotel, you're responsible for maximizing profits by boosting customer awareness and satisfaction. Duties typically include:
Managing hotel marketing staff
Promoting the hotel through print, radio, video, and online marketing
Conducting market research to determine the needs of customers
Building good customer relations
To become a hotel marketing manager it's common to have a bachelor's degree in marketing or hotel management and have some experience in sales or marketing.
Average annual salary (US): $54,579
Whether or not you need a degree to work in hospitality management depends on the job. While a tour guide may not need a college degree, a hotel general manager often requires a master's degree.
Having good communication skills, attention to detail, and proficiency in the technical skills specific to your job may help you succeed in hospitality management. Here's a look at the workplace skills and technical skills you will typically need.
Since jobs in the hospitality industry focus on giving customers enjoyable experiences, certain people skills are valuable. These often include:
Ability to multitask
Attention to detail
A positive attitude
The types of technical skills you'll need for a job in the hospitality industry depend on the particular job. For instance, if you have a position as a front office manager, you may need to be good with numbers and have familiarity with accounting software. For an event planning position, you'd want to know about design, and as a hotel marketing manager, you would benefit from having a strong grasp of social media.
The coronavirus pandemic greatly affected the leisure and hospitality industry. In April 2020, jobs in the industry decreased by 48 percent, but employment has steadily risen since January 2021 and the industry has made a significant rebound to recover almost all of that employment loss as of March 2022 . This is especially true for the private industry, as opposed to government employers. Therefore, the job outlook appears relatively bright.
To pursue your interest in a career in hospitality management, here are a few ways to get started:
Consider an internship or an entry-level job in the hospitality industry to determine if it's a good fit for you.
Identify if you have special knowledge or skills that would transfer to a hospitality management position.
Get a better understanding of the industry by taking a few hospitality courses.
If you're interested in being a general manager, front office manager, or marketing manager in a hotel, check out this hotel management specialization offered by ESSEC Business School on Coursera. If the travel and tourism industry is more to your liking, you might be interested in a course on sustainable tourism from the University of Copenhagen.
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1. US Travel Association. "Leisure and Hospitality Employment Update, https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/2022-03/leisure-hospitality-employment _march-2022-update.pdf." Accessed March 30, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.