While it's not always mandatory, many hotel managers earn some sort of postsecondary education in the hospitality and management field before gaining positions in the industry. Undergraduate programs include coursework related to food service and general business and prepare students for positions as restaurant or hotel managers. Students learn to manage an establishment's finances, effectively market products and services, manage staff and provide customer service. Applicants to undergraduate programs need a high school diploma.
Candidates who aspire to become general managers or hotel executives may pursue a master's degree in hotel management. These candidates must have a bachelor's degree in hotel management or a business related area. Programs require that applicants submit transcripts, GRE scores and letters of recommendations. Many programs also encourage students to have prior hotel experience before enrolling. It's often common for bachelor's and master's programs to require students to do an internship at a restaurant or hotel.
Associate of Applied Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management
An associate's degree program in hotel and restaurant management provides individuals with the practical skills and technical business knowledge necessary to oversee the day-to-day operations of a hotel or other lodging establishment. Many community and vocational colleges offering these programs require incoming students have basic computer technology skills and a strong command of the English language. Enrolled students learn how to manage a crew of employees, handle front desk responsibilities, organize marketing initiatives and operate food services. Many of the courses found in an associate's degree program cover the basics of the hospitality industry as well as practical business and management principles. Some of these courses might include:
- Hotel management and supervision
- Organizational management
- Food preparation
- Purchasing and cost control
- Front desk operations
- Hospitality financial operations
Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management
A 4-year bachelor's degree program in hotel and restaurant management offers students an opportunity to manage a lodging establishment while also providing them with a general liberal arts education. Students enrolled in such a program learn about the practical and theoretical aspects of the hospitality industry while also studying business principles, management concepts and general education courses. A bachelor's degree program in hotel and restaurant management has many of the same basic, practical courses as an associate's degree program in the field. It also carries courses related to hospitality and management law, theory and strategy. Common courses include:
- Hospitality and legal issues
- Lodging operational management
- Financial management
- Professional development
- Strategic hospitality management
Master of Science in Hospitality Management
A master's degree in hospitality management combines academic coursework with field experience to prepare students for high-level positions within a hotel management company. Students learn advanced concepts in marketing, management, operations and technologies. Internships within this program allow students to learn and observe in a professional environment under the supervision of an experienced hotel management executive. The courses within a master's degree program in this field focus specifically on management, leadership and development within a hotel corporation. The curriculum includes courses in:
- Hospitality operations analysis
- Organizational behavior
- Financial management in hospitality
- Restaurant development
- Strategic management for hospitality
Popular Career Options
Graduates with a master's degree in hospitality management can find high-level careers with hotel and restaurant organizations. Careers may be available as:
- Hotel executives
- General managers
- Hotel managers
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in hotel and restaurant management have the same career opportunities as graduates of an associate's degree in the field. A bachelor's degree can provide graduates with the opportunity to move up the career ladder at a faster rate and earn higher salaries in the industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), lodging managers, including hotel managers, held about 48,400 jobs across the United States in 2014 (www.bls.gov). The median annual wages for the lodging management profession in 2015 was $49,720, as reported by the BLS.
Continuing Education Options
Many schools offering associate's degree programs in hotel and restaurant management allow students to transfer credits to a 4-year bachelor's degree program in the field. Such an education can prepare students to move up the ladder into advanced management positions in the lodging industry.
While there is no national certification designation for hotel managers, many professionals have opportunities to participate in classes offered by hotel chains. These courses cover new technologies and procedures in the field and can also be leveraged for career advancement in the industry.
Degrees in hotel management are not required but do prepare students for the industry by providing coursework in management, business and food service. There is no specific certification available and most graduates work in a number of environments.