Hospitality Careers

Hospitality and tourism careers span hotel and resort management, restaurant management, and travel industry jobs. If you're looking for a career in the hospitality industry, review the many types of hospitality careers available to determine which is right for you.

Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry includes tourism, travel, and other leisure services, from hotels to cruise ships to restaurants. This broad industry employs millions of workers and brings in billions of dollars annually. There are many careers in the hospitality industry, ranging from entry-level positions like housekeepers and cooks, to senior and executive positions such as hotel controllers and executive chefs.

Many of these careers involve standing or moving for long periods of time and long working hours, and since many leisure activities take place at night or on the weekend, a typical 9-to-5 work schedule should not be expected in these careers. That said, many occupations in hospitality allow for travel and many careers can be started without a college degree.

Hotel Hospitality

The umbrella of hotel hospitality covers everything in the operation and management of a hotel. Personnel in this field work to improve the hotel guest experience by keeping the premises clean and presentable; answering guest questions or fulfilling requests; hosting parties, comedy shows, and music performances; and providing restaurant, bar, and in-room food and drink service. There are several hospitality careers within the hotel hospitality industry. Some common careers to consider include:

  • Hotel Housekeeper: Hotel housekeepers are an integral part of the hospitality industry. They clean and maintain the areas of a hotel where guests may be, including guest rooms, common areas, and conference halls. This may involve changing sheets and towels, restocking consumables, and vacuuming/mopping floors.
  • Hotel General Manager: The general manager of a hotel oversees all hotel operations. They oversee personnel and services to make sure guests have a great experience and want to return. This may involve checking the quality of provided services and handling customer questions and complaints. While it is possible to work your way up to this position from an entry-level hotel job, a bachelor's or master's degree in hotel management or hospitality management will open more opportunities for advancement.
  • Hotel Controller: Hotel Controllers manage the financial needs of a hotel or hotel management company. They approve budgets, oversee tax preparation and reporting, and supervise financial policies in the organization. Hotel controllers are required to be licensed as CPAs (Certified Public Accountant) and therefore typically hold a bachelor's degree or higher in finance or accounting. This is usually an executive position reporting to the top decision-makers in an organization.

Interested in other hotel hospitality careers? Explore these additional positions in the hotel industry:

Restaurant Hospitality

Hospitality restaurant jobs include all positions needed to run a full-service restaurant. Cooks, waitstaff, bartenders, accountants, and chefs all work in this field. While food service often runs late into the night, kitchen preparation may begin much earlier in the day. Careers in restaurants are typically fast-paced and customer-facing, with many hours spent on the move. Some common career options within the restaurant hospitality field are:

  • Bartender: Bartenders prepare and serve drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Bartenders may also accept payment from customers and check identification to avoid serving to minors. While the BLS reports a below-average growth of 2% between 2016 and 2026, they also note that outlook for this job is good because of high turnover in the workforce.
  • Cook: Cooks are responsible for preparing food for customers in a professional kitchen. They may have expertise in a specific station (such as frying, baking, etc.) or have knowledge of various stations in the kitchen. Cooks also spend time cleaning the kitchen and preparing food before the main service. This is a fast-paced job that demands physical stamina.
  • Catering Manager: Catering managers handle both customer-facing and business-facing tasks in a catering service. They may work with clients to establish orders, review finances and payments, and oversee the work employees under them. To become a catering manager , you'll need some experience in the food service industry and/or management.
  • Executive Chef: Executive Chefs do a lot of the administrative work to keep a kitchen running in top form. They help design new dishes, ensure quality of service, and hire new workers. Executive chefs need years of work experience in a kitchen and often work long days.

There are many more career options in the restaurant industry, such as:

Tourism Industry

Many careers exist within the booming tourism industry, including some travel industry jobs that pay well. Positions in the tourism and travel industry involve attracting tourists to a location and enhancing their experiences while traveling. This includes air travel, accommodations, tours, transportation, and food. Those within the travel and tourism industry may deal with customers traveling for work, leisure, or for personal reasons. Some potential tourism industry careers include:

  • Travel Agent: If you've ever been frustrated with the complexity of scheduling a fun and adventurous trip, you'll probably understand the importance of a good travel agent. Travel agents coordinate every aspect of a trip, from scheduling travel accommodations to advising travelers about local attractions and norms. Travel agents may need to be licensed to sell travel services, depending on the state they operate in.
  • Cruise Ship Captain : The captain of a cruise ship is the highest-ranked person aboard. They are responsible for general operations and safety of the ship, cargo, and passengers. Typically, cruise ship captains are required to be licensed and need extensive experience in and knowledge of maritime activities. They also interact with passengers to ensure they are having a positive experience.

Other possible career paths in the tourism industry are:

Hospitality Management

While hospitality is a service-based industry by nature, there are many paths to management positions in hospitality. In many organizations, it may be possible to start at an entry-level position with little or no college education and work your way up to a managerial position. However, management opportunities often require a bachelor's or master's degree.

As with most positions, experience and education are often the major factors affecting salary for hospitality managers. Hotel General Managers typically earn a median salary of $51,800 per year, but the highest earners were reported at $98,370 annually. Financial Managers, a more general position akin to Hotel Controller, earned a median salary of $125,080 in 2017. The top 10% of this occupation earned over $208,000. Executive chefs earned a median salary of $45,950, with the top earners making $78,570 or more annually.

Career Median Salary
Hotel Manager $51,800*
Gaming Manager $72,930*
Food and Beverage Director $65,831**
Meeting/Event Planner $45,410**
Restaurant Manager $43,953**
Catering Manager $44,066**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017); ** (2018)

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