Hospitality Careers Job Opportunities and Salaries at Hotels and Beyond

Whether dealing with global jetsetters, staycationers, or simply everyday people on the go, the hospitality industry is all about customer satisfaction. There is a wide range of job opportunities in the sector, and if you’re a people-person who enjoys making sure others are having a good time, this may be the right path for you. Discover the various roles within hospitality, from hotel careers to food and beverage to events and entertainment.

Creating a Warm Welcome: Careers in Hospitality

The global expansion of the middle class in the last few decades has provided more disposable income to a greater percentage of the population, and they’re using it to see the world, as well as enjoy their local surroundings. When spending hard-earned money, travelers and customers alike expect top-notch service, be it a friendly front desk clerk, attentive porter to help carry bags, or the barista at the local coffee shop.

Lodging/accommodations is the biggest subsector within hospitality and offers the largest range of career opportunities. Below are some examples of positions within this sector, as well as a few other roles that fall under the larger hospitality umbrella.

Baggage Porters and Bellhops

Although their duties are straightforward, bellhops are an important component of the overall guest experience. These individuals greet guests as they are arriving, carefully remove luggage from vehicles, and safely transport it to the correct room. First impressions are crucial in the hotel hospitality industry, so attentive and industrious porters often get promoted to concierge or front desk jobs.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 8%

  • Minimum education requirements:

    High school diploma

Housekeepers

They rarely interact directly with guests, but housekeepers make a tremendous difference in how guests perceive the hotel. Guests love coming back to a room and seeing their bed has been made and their towels have been replaced. With multiple rooms and paying guests, housekeepers must be both detail-oriented and efficient.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 8%

  • Minimum education requirements:

    None

Hotel Desk Clerks

There are three basic functions of a clerk position: taking reservations, checking guests in, and checking guests out. In smaller hotels, clerks also serve as default concierges, handling requests by directing guests to the appropriate services. Employees who start as clerks gain valuable experience in attending to lodgers, a skill that puts them in a favorable position for management roles.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 9%

  • Minimum education requirements:

    High school diploma

Concierges

Not every guest request requires the assistance of a manager — or even a clerk. Concierges assist guests with logistical matters such as taxis to the airport, access to a printer, requests for maintenance repairs, or recommendations of local restaurants.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 10%

  • Minimum education requirements:

    High school diploma

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

These planners coordinate and oversee all aspects of an event or big professional meeting at hotels, convention centers, or other event locations. This includes securing venues, arranging transportation and accommodations for guests, and managing the event budget.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 10%

  • Minimum education requirements:

    Bachelor’s degree in a relevant area such as hospitality and tourism management or event management. Some employers may require 1-2 years of event planning or hotel experience.

Waiters and Waitresses

Part of the food and beverages subsector within hospitality, these workers serve customers in restaurants, bars, and other dining establishments.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 3%

  • Minimum education requirements:

    On the job training; no formal education needed.

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Sales Managers

Hotel sales involves not only assigning guests to rooms, but also overseeing the profitability of the hotel restaurant, laundry, and related services. All the services of the hotel must work in tandem to create a profitable enterprise that guests want to visit again and tell their friends about. Sales managers often gain initial experience through front desk jobs.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 5% (across all industries)

  • Minimum education requirements:

    Bachelor’s degree in a business or financial field

Food Service Managers

Whether working at a hotel, restaurant, or similar dining establishment, food service managers ensure all daily operations run smoothly by ordering food, managing the budget, and ensuring delicious food leaves the kitchen. Prior to being trusted with the great responsibility of this role, food service managers may have spent time as restaurant managers or assistants to event managers.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 5%

  • Minimum education requirements:

    High school diploma, but postsecondary education is becoming increasingly preferred, especially at upscale restaurants and hotels.

Lodging Managers

Although hotel managers’ offices are at or near the front desk, they can often be seen buzzing around the property to ensure everything is running effectively and guests are happy. Clerks are responsible for most of the frontline guest interaction, but managers stay close by in case they need to resolve problems or make sure employees are maintaining the hotel’s standards.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 8%

  • Minimum education requirements:

    High school diploma

Executive Chef

The executive chef is the person in charge of all activities in a restaurant’s kitchen. This includes menu creation, inventory, and kitchen staff management.

  • JOB OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 9% (under Chefs and Head Cooks in BLS)

  • Minimum education requirements:

    A postsecondary education isn’t required, but many chefs do pursue two- or four-year degree programs. Several years of experience is needed to earn the executive chef title.

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Operations Managers
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 7%

  • Education and Training:

    Bachelor’s degree

Property Managers
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 8%

  • Education and Training:

    High school diploma, although licensure is required in some states

Receptionist and Information Clerks
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 7%

  • Education and Training:

    High school diploma plus brief on-the-job training

Tour Guides
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK (2014 to 2024): 5%

  • Education and Training:

    High school diploma plus on-the-job training

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Experience Matters: Salaries for Hospitality Workers

Hospitality and hotel careers include a wide range of jobs, which means salaries can vary greatly. The graph below provides a rough indication of average annual incomes for some of the most common jobs in the sector, but remember that there is always room for go-getters to earn more – the hotel and hospitality world is a place where exceptional service is monetarily rewarded.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

Who Does Well in Hospitality and Hotel Careers?

At first glance, it may not look like it, but working in hospitality can be tough. Some day-to-day tasks can be monotonous and you’ll encounter all kinds of people, both friendly and not-so-friendly types. Also, unlike office workers who typically control their schedules, working hours for some hotel careers are determined by the needs of guests. The following list of traits should help you determine whether you have the personality and skills to not only land a job in hospitality, but also truly enjoy it.

Can you accommodate demanding people?

Whether working at a hotel, restaurant, bar, or convention center, you’ll interact with people all the time, which means you’ll have to like people; a lot. Guests come in with a wide range of expectations and you have to be able to ascertain their needs and meet them quickly. Also, remember, in hospitality, the customer is always right.

Are you a good listener?

The hospitality industry demands a client-centered approach. In order to be an effective professional in this field, guests need to feel that you’ve heard their needs and empathize with their situation.

Do you mind working unconventional hours?

If you’re working at a hotel, guests will arrive and depart at all hours. New employees shouldn’t expect to land the day shift right away; instead, expect to work nights and weekends.

Can you switch gears?

Guests and customers call the shots and determine how your shift goes. In the span of five minutes, you may be required to move between checking in a late arrival to answering phones to giving directions to calling maintenance.

Are you a good brand ambassador?

Hotel staff are ambassadors for a company. They wear uniforms and nametags, but they also must be courteous and quick to act, lest the hotel receive a bad review on TripAdvisor or Yelp.

Can you relocate?

Although not a must, many hospitality and hotel employees who are serious about advancement with their company can typically do so much faster if they are willing to relocate. For instance, assistant managers can move into general manager slots that have opened up elsewhere in a chain.

Required and Preferred Hospitality Skills

Perceptive

Guests want to feel valued and understood, so hotel staff must read the situation. As an example, an attuned concierge probably wouldn’t direct honeymooners to a dive bar.

Adaptive

Hotel jobs require staff to adjust quickly based upon guests’ needs without losing sight of other duties.

Attentive

A hotel is an expensive home away from home. Front office staff who don’t acknowledge waiting guests may justifiably draw their ire. Attentiveness is also a must at restaurants where customers grow impatient if waiting for service too long.

Excellent communication

Interacting with people — some of whom may be difficult —requires diplomacy and graciousness. Being personable and paying attention to what you say is an essential attribute for staff who hope to advance.

Private automatic branch exchange system (PABX)

A PABX is a switchboard for handling calls from rooms to other parts of the hotel and vice versa. Front-desk staff will get to know it well.

Facilities management software

Programs such as InnQuest roomMaster and ASI FrontDesk are specially designed for placing hotel guests in rooms and removing reservation mishaps.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software

Managers can use programs such as ResortSuite to visualize things like check-in patterns, rates of returning clients, and seasonal income.

Credit card processing machines

Front desk staff not only handle client requests — they also handle their money, with all hotels typically requiring a credit card to be placed on file when a guest checks in.

Degrees That Lead to Hospitality and Hotel Careers

Many people go into hospitality without a college degree. And it is possible — even common — to advance into management positions based solely on performance and experience. Options may be limited, however, when considering career mobility between different hotel companies. Increasingly, larger hotel chains require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or hotel management.

Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Administration

This degree goes far beyond hotels. Students learn the ins and outs of the hospitality industry – marketing, finance, operation, and real estate as it all relates to hotel administration. Additionally, students learn how to become leaders in the service industry. Some examples of typical courses include:

  • Organizational Behavior and Interpersonal Skills
  • Managerial Communication
  • Microeconomics for the Service Industry
  • Intro to Hotel Operations
  • Intro to Food Service Operations
  • Hospitality Development and Planning
Master’s in Hospitality Management

At the graduate degree level, hospitality students can either pursue a traditional master’s program or an MBA with a concentration in hospitality management. Both options help prepare students for more advanced – and often global – roles in the industry. Students learn advanced business management skills as well as how to effectively apply them to the hospitality world. Most programs also provide students with critical knowledge in the analysis, operations, and logistics of hotels, casinos, restaurants, and related service industry locations. Courses may include:

  • Survey of Hospitality Management
  • Event Planning and Management
  • Tourism Management
  • Properties Development and Planning
  • Marketing Management
  • Leadership Development
PhD in Hotel Administration or Hospitality Management

A highly specialized and advanced degree, a PhD in hospitality management or hotel administration is a research-based degree program for those interested in teaching at a university or conducting research to advance the field. Programs are typically individualized, which gives students the ability to focus their education and research on an area of hospitality that is of significant interest to them. This could be operations management, real estate management, branding, or marketing and consumer behavior. Graduation requirements include a practicum, teaching experience, and a research-based dissertation. Example courses are:

  • Advanced Hospitality Financial Management
  • Advanced Hospitality Marketing
  • Advanced Lodging Operations
  • Current Issues in Hospitality and Hotel Management

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in the hotel and hospitality industry allow individuals to transition into different parts of the field without completing a full degree. For example, certificates in hospitality management help those outside the field gain foundational knowledge to be competitive for entry roles, while options like a hotel revenue management certificate provide niche skills and knowledge to existing employees.

Individuals who have completed degrees in related topics – particularly business or finance – and want to enter the hotel industry can take advantage of hotel manager training programs. Omni Hotels provides a great example of what this process entails and the benefits it offers.

Finding a Niche: Specializations in Hospitality

Hotel and hospitality management may seem like a specific career area already, but academia offers further specializations for individuals looking to become experts in a particularly function. The following specializations can be carried over to a hotel career.

Entrepreneurship

Not everyone wants to work at someone else’s hotel. The entrepreneurship specialization is for people looking to start boutique hotels or inns catering to tourists. Such a career path requires extra effort because there are no built-in vendor relationships or support staff, but it’s the only way to create a hospitality brand of one’s own. Alternatively, students in an entrepreneurship track may also choose to become franchisees of an existing chain. Common courses cover topics related to financial planning, business ethnics, accounting, and creating a business plan.

Event Management

Many larger hotels have conference rooms, meeting spaces, and ballrooms available to rent for special events, and hotel event managers ensure these spaces meet client expectations and are financially viable for their companies. Students in this specialization learn skills related to facilities management, financial planning, and food service.

Human Resources

The accommodations sector employs nearly two million people, and many of them are seasonal workers. There is a tremendous need for systems to manage employee records and create schedules, and professionals to train new employees on hotel rules and regulations. Specializing in human resources provides graduates with leadership, evaluation, and organizational skills that are of great value to this industry.

Resort Management

Offering a few more bells and whistles, guest visit resorts to take advantage of amenities such as spas, clubs, and private beaches. This specialization is perfect for someone who wants more responsibility than the front desk and is interested in the tourism side of the industry.

Sales and Marketing

Unlike other sales roles, hotels are semi-closed ecosystems in which sales managers can meet all of their guests’ essential needs – including food and entertainment. Hotel sales professionals try to capitalize on this by not only drawing travelers to their building but also enticing them to make purchases in-house. Sales and marketing specializations introduce students to tried and true sales methodologies, marketing strategies, and brand management.

The Job Benefits of Certifications

Outside of kitchen staff who may be required to complete a food safety course, certifications are not typically required in the hospitality sector. However, just as a bachelor’s degree offers graduates a larger range of places to work, a relevant certification can make you more marketable, especially if you wish to work at more upscale places. Many certifications in the field are provided through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), which offers a discount to members. Below are a few certifications worth looking into:

Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics

Managers looking to increase sales numbers benefit from the CHIA certificate, offered via AHLEI. There is no experience prerequisite, but applicants must take a one-day course and pass an online exam.

Certified Front Desk Representative

After completing a training program and passing a short multiple-choice test, professional clerks can receive this certification from AHLEI.

Certified Hotel Administrator

Managers and directors with two years’ experience as a hotel administrator can demonstrate advanced knowledge of the hospitality industry by passing a half-day exam administered by AHLEI.

ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification

Hotel caterers and food service managers may need certification to handle food or alcohol. ServSafe is an accredited and well-known option.

Who Hires Hospitality Workers?

It’s pretty obvious where hotel staff are employed: hotels. But there are other places where hospitality professionals work.

Casinos

Hotel-casinos are lively places to work, catering to tourists and fun-seekers in a 24/7 environment. Because casinos typically provide many different services and forms of entertainment, they employ lots of people within the industry.

Consultants

Hotel consultants are paid individuals who audit hotels – sometimes even restaurants – and provide details on how they can improve service or sales. Interested individuals can learn more through the International Society of Hospitality Consultants.

Cruise ships

Cruise ships are all about hospitality and customer satisfaction. On these boats, workers can find employment as waiters/waitresses, cooks, housekeepers, or entertainers, to name a few.

Hostels

More popular abroad than in America, hostels offer younger travelers inexpensive places to bunk. Hostel staff may work in exchange for room and board.>

Hotels

Designed for tourists and/or business travelers, hotels provide not only rooms, but many have dining options, fitness centers, and laundering services. Aside from frontline roles, lots of hotels hire staff members to oversee these specialized functions.>

Motels

Designed specifically for people travelling by car, motels often feature room doors that are outside and adjacent to the parking lot. Motels offer fewer services, and front-desk staff find themselves wearing the hats of clerk, concierge, and receptionist.

Resorts

Resorts are full-service hotels with an emphasis on luxury. Many have spas and multiple dining options, so hospitality professionals can find a lot of interactive positions that don’t involve working reception.

Restaurants, bars, and cafes

Another obvious place, hospitality jobs – from entry-level roles to management positions – are abundant at any kind of dining establishment.

RV parks

Catering to tourists and retired travelers, recreational vehicle parks employ managers to live and work on the property and see to guests’ needs.

Finding Hospitality Jobs Online

With so many jobs available in the industry, there are numerous job boards specifically for hospitality careers. While some are focused on boutique markets, others are much broader and cover roles related to food service, housekeeping, and other service positions. Many larger hotel chains also post job openings directly on their websites. If you’re ready to start looking, try some of the job search resources below:

  • eHotelier

    Create a profile and upload a resume to start searching for jobs on eHotelier. In the meantime, take a look at the site’s professional development section.

  • Hotel Job Resource

    Create a username and password to fully utilize this site, which aggregates hotel job postings across the U.S. Unlike some job boards, this site has a strong focus on non-management positions.

  • HotelCareer.com

    Search by job type or area, then use the filters to narrow down the results to jobs you’re most interested in. The site lists thousands of jobs across the world.

  • HotelJobs.com

    This site has impressive search functionality, allowing users to scroll and quickly see how many jobs are available by city, job function, and brand.

  • HRC International

    Luxury hotels advertise job openings on HRC International, a site designed for new graduates of hospitality programs.

  • ResortJobs.com

    Get some job hunting advice in the resource section, then type in a job type and location to see what’s available near you.

Internships: A Foot in the Hotel Door

A hospitality internship looks great on a resume, but it can also sometimes lead directly to a job within a hotel’s family of companies. The easiest way to find internships is directly through hotel websites, but those looking to do an internship abroad can use a third-party service to help smooth out visa and transportation issues.

Three common types of internships within hotel hospitality include:

Corporate Internships

Based at a company’s headquarters or regional offices

Hotel Internships

Facilitated by individual locations

Management training programs

Considered a step above internships, these opportunities produce new managers to serve in a hotel chain

Many hotel chains offer all three options. The internships below provide a snapshot of available opportunities.

Four Seasons Corporate Offices Internship

Location: Toronto

Students and new graduates can apply for four-month summer positions in a specific department.

Japan Overseas Planning Committee Internship Program

Location: Tokyo metropolitan area

College-level Japanese speakers can help Tokyo prepare for the 2020 Olympics by learning the ropes of hotel hospitality in one of the world’s great cities.

Marriott Voyage Global Leadership Development Program

Location: Marriott hotels in 40+ countries

Voyage is like a super internship for recent graduates — a 12 to 18-month paid program in which participants receive training in their area of interest and learn everything there is to know about Marriott operations. Once completed, alumni are prepared for management positions.

World Unite! Hotel Internships

Location: Zanzibar

Where better to learn the ins and outs of working in a resort hotel than on a beach in Zanzibar? The easiest placements to find are for students completing hospitality degrees, but some hotels accept high school graduates.

Wyndham Worldwide Internship Program

Location: Multiple

Owning everything from Ramada to Travelodge, Wyndham is one of the largest hotel chains in the world. College upperclassmen can get placed in a specific department at any of their locations in need of interns.

Professional Associations for Hospitality Students and Staff

Hotels are scattered across the world and each requires a robust and professional staff to function properly. Joining one of the associations listed below can help industry professionals leverage networking opportunities and gain insider knowledge about dream positions that become available.

American Hotel & Lodging Association

Hospitality majors and young people in the industry can benefit from an AHLA membership, which allows them to network with peers, hotel owners, and managers. Other perks include a job shadowing program, online career center, and scholarship opportunities.

American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute

An arm of AHLA, AHLEI facilitates certification exams, as well as test preparation courses and review sessions. Members receive substantial discounts on education courses and exams.

Independent Lodging Industry Association

ILIA is a great resource for students and staff working in independent-owned hotels. Membership includes 5,000 individuals representing unaffiliated hotels and independent franchises.

Institute of Hospitality

This institute attracts current and future managers in the industry, drawing members from across the world. Perks include mentorships, webinars, and online professional development courses.

International Executive Housekeepers Association

IEHA members are at the frontlines of keeping buildings clean. The association offers credentialing programs, online trainings, and annual scholarships for its members.

International Hotel & Restaurant Association

Primarily an advocacy organization representing the interests of hoteliers and restaurant operators, IHRA also allows independent and student members to have a voice in their efforts as nonvoting members.

International Luxury Hotel Association

Both student and professional ILHA members receive event discounts, access to the association’s job center, and use of the “Hotelier’s Concierge” service which offers a question and answer feature with hotel professionals.

National Concierge Association

NCA members can undertake a concierge certification program at one of the association’s five state chapters or via an online process.

Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management

Younger professionals and students in hospitality or culinary programs can take advantage of reduced membership costs while also accessing a career center, membership directory, and online networking events.

UNITE HERE

A union for employees in several industries – including hotels and food service – UNITE HERE is an advocate for employees who are not on management track but want to make decent money and receive benefits.