Overview of an Associate's in Hospitality Management
Are you considering a career in hospitality management? If you are interested in the hospitality industry or hospitality management industry and enjoy working directly with other people, a degree in hospitality management program may be a good fit for you. Professionals who work in hotel and restaurant management, food and beverage, and food service within the hospitality industry often ensure that guests have a pleasant experience at a resort, hotel, or motel when on vacation or traveling for business purposes. Additionally, they are often responsible for ensuring the establishment runs efficiently and is profitable. While duties will vary from position to position, other job tasks for those who earn an on-campus or online hospitality management associate degree may include:
- Inspecting the facility and grounds for cleanliness
- Ensuring company standards are met
- Answering guest questions regarding policies and services
- Tracking and managing company finances
- Interviewing, hiring, and training new staff members
- Monitoring staff performance
- Coordinating guest activities
- Resolving guest problems and addressing complaints
- Setting room rates and budgets
- Ensuring food service or dining meets quality and safety requirements
- Upholding hotel and restaurant management and sales policy both in front-of-house and office settings
- Maintaining events schedules if required and providing leadership for staff
There are three educational paths available to individuals interested in hospitality management. While it is possible to gain employment at a resort, hotel, or motel straight out of community college or a hospitality management associate degree program, even with certificates, years of professional experience in the hospitality industry are required before management positions will become available. For this reason, most people choose to pursue either an associate degree in hospitality management program or an undergraduate degree in hospitality, hotel, or restaurant management. These advanced degrees often help graduates qualify for more advanced employment opportunities.
As with all academic and career ventures, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to completing associate degree in hospitality management programs rather than a higher level hospitality management degree.
There are many reasons to consider pursuing a hospitality management associate degree program. One of the most alluring benefits is the lower cost of education, especially if you attend a community college or complete an online associate hospitality management program. According to 2017-2018 statistics released by the College Board’s Trends in Higher Education Series, the average in-state tuition for attending a traditional four-year institution for a single year was $9,970. Conversely, students can expect to pay an average of $3,570 a year when working toward an associate degree.
Earning an associate degree also takes less time than earning a bachelor’s degree. Most traditional undergraduate programs can be completed within four years, assuming students are attending classes full-time. It takes approximately two years, however, for full-time students to graduate from an on-campus or online associate degree program.
While bachelor’s degree holders have to wait four years to join the workforce, people who complete a hospitality management associate degree program may be able to find employment in as little as two years. This is especially helpful considering that individuals with a degree of any kind will make more money than those without one.
Additionally, associate degree credits can be transferrable. If you decide to pursue further hospitality management education in the future, the coursework you have already completed can count toward those requirements.
While there are numerous reasons to consider pursuing an associate hospitality management degree, there are some drawbacks as well. One of the most important disadvantages to keep in mind is that associate degree graduates often compete with bachelor’s degree graduates for the same jobs. Employers may be willing to accept applications from people with an associate degree in hospitality management, but preference is often given to those with higher-level degrees. Educational achievements are an easy way to narrow down a candidate pool. Similarly, it may be more difficult to secure employment in more advanced managerial and supervisory positions within the hospitality industry.
Further, while hospitality management professionals with an associate degree will likely make more money than people without a degree of any kind, they will not earn as much as bachelor’s degree program graduates. Higher salaries may be achievable over time, but starting pay will not be as competitive as it is for individuals with more education.
Certificate vs. Associates
You may also be able to find a hospitality management certificate program. These differ from an associate degree in many ways. These programs are often inexpensive and require less time to complete. While most associate programs require two years to graduate, students can earn a certificate in as little as a one year. This is because certificate programs do not include general education courses in their curriculum. Non-vocational classes, like math and writing, are cut to expedite program completion.
Focusing the curriculum on field-specific topics provides a good introduction to the industry and allows graduates to join the workforce sooner, but there are significant drawbacks as well. Namely, a certificate may not satisfy an employer’s minimum college degree requirement. This can make finding and competing for employment more difficult. Additionally, individuals with a certificate should expect to make less money than those who have an associate or bachelor’s degree.
What Hospitality Management Associate Degrees are Available?
While specific degree titles can vary from institution to institution, most colleges and universities offer an Associate of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management and/or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Hospitality Management. Both of these degrees help prepare graduates for employment in the field, but there are a few distinct differences you should be aware of before enrolling.
- Associate of Science (AS) in Hospitality and Tourism Management
An Associate of Science (AS) in Hospitality and Tourism Management is usually designed for individuals interested in beginning or advancing a career in the hospitality and tourism industry. Students often gain the skills necessary to be successful working in management positions at hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, catering companies, and bars. Graduates are ready to enter the workforce after completing all necessary requirements but are also prepared to pursue further education at a traditional, four-year institution.
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Hospitality Management
An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Hospitality Management is usually designed to provide students with the foundational knowledge necessary to be successful in the hospitality industry. Often, coursework prepares students to apply business, communication, accounting, and supervision principles to hospitality facility management. It does not, however, provide opportunities to learn about or enhance tourism and travel planning skills. In most cases, individuals who enroll in an AAS program do not intend to pursue additional education in the future.
In most cases, colleges and universities have established requirements that associate degree candidates must complete before enrolling. While these vary from school to school, they often include some variation of the following:
- A high school diploma or equivalent
- Minimum overall academic grade point average
If you are transferring from another institution, you may also be required to provide a transcript containing a record of prior course completions. It is also important to note that SAT and/or ACT scores are not required at most community colleges, but are necessary when enrolling in an undergraduate program after earning an associate degree.
How long does it take to earn a Hospitality Management Associates?
In most cases, it takes approximately two years to earn an associate degree in hospitality management. This does assume, however, that the enrolled student is attending the institution full-time. While many people opt to take classes on a part-time basis due to personal or professional responsibilities, doing this does take longer. The time frame varies depending on the program and the number of courses completed each semester, but graduation can be delayed by one to three years. It is also worth noting that students entering an associate degree program with advanced placement credits or transfer credits may be able to graduate in fewer than two years.
Potential Careers in Hospitality Management with an Associates
There are numerous employment opportunities available to individuals who have graduated from an associate degree program in hospitality management. Some popular options include restaurant manager, housekeeping manager, hotel manager, event manager, and travel agent.
- Restaurant Manager
Restaurant managers are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of one or more eating establishments. They frequently hire, train, and supervise all restaurant staff members, as well as maintain schedules and payroll. They may also plan and lead departmental meetings, create additional work assignments, and maintain reservations.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a restaurant manager is: $47,200.
- Housekeeping Manager
Housekeeping managers oversee the daily operations of the housekeeping department for companies and institutions that require regular cleaning. They are responsible for ensuring that staff members maintain cleanliness standards and are available for emergency clean-up situations. These professionals also hire and train incoming employees.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a housekeeping manager is: $44,100.
- Hotel Manager
Hotel managers are in charge of a wide variety of supervisory duties at a hotel, motel, or resort. They are often responsible for hiring, training, and managing staff members, as well as overseeing facility maintenance standards. These professionals also ensure all bookkeeping is completed properly and in a timely manner.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a hotel manager is: $49,600.
- Event Manager
Event managers are responsible for scheduling and bringing an event to life. They often work closely with individuals and companies to execute a particular vision. These professionals also coordinate services with third-party vendors, including venue owners, caterers, and entertainers.
According to PayScale, the average salary for an event manager is: $53,800.
- Travel Agent
Travel agents typically assist individuals and groups in planning and securing travel arrangements for personal and business purposes. They often identify suitable transportation and accommodations based on client needs and preferences. These professionals usually earn extra money from commissions.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a travel agent is: $39,600.
Options to Advance
Often, advancement opportunities come from within the company that a hospitality management professional works for. In most cases, assistant managers advance to managers, while managers may become regional managers. It is important to realize, however, that these opportunities are far more readily available at large hotel chains. Small hotels and resorts that are independently owned offer fewer advancement options.
Additionally, those who work for larger companies must be willing to relocate when new management positions become available. While it is not uncommon for employees to be promoted from within, jobs are not always available in a specific area at a specific time. This means that relocating to another city or state may be necessary in order to advance in the field.
Best Associate of Science in Hospitality Management Programs
There are many colleges that offer traditional associate degrees in hospitality management. These programs require students to take courses in person, as opposed to offering a distance learning alternative. Some of the most prominent colleges and universities with this type of program include:
Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University offers an intensive associate degree through the School of Hospitality Management within the College of Health and Human Development. It is designed to provide courses in specific and general education for students interested in the industry. This program also offers the opportunity to transfer to a baccalaureate degree program upon completion.
- Associate of Science in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management
- Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management
Davis & Elkins College
Elkins, West Virginia
Davis & Elks College offers an associate degree for students interested in lodging, event planning, casino, food, and beverage management. The program provides an introduction to management principles, as well as working to foster an understanding of business.
- Associate of Arts in Hospitality Management
- Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management
Buffalo, New York
Trocaire College offers an associate degree in hospitality management to individuals who want hands-on experience in the industry. The program is designed to help students develop and hone a versatile set of skills that are necessary for success working in hotels, restaurants, clubs, travel, and other hospitality facilities.
- Associate of Arts in Hospitality Management
- Certificate Program in Hospitality Management
Lewis-Clark State College
Lewis-Clark State College offers an associate degree in hospitality management that is designed to provide students with analytical, experiential, and critical thinking skills. The program is tailored to prepare individuals for managerial employment positions in the hospitality, tourism, and event planning industries.
- Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management
- Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University offers a hospitality management associate degree designed to provide an integrated learning experience. It strives to seamlessly combine practices and procedures with theories in management. The curriculum prepares students for the fast-paced and ever-changing world of hospitality, as well as develops the skills needed to manage companies and organizations in the industry.
- Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management
- Bachelor of Science in Applied Science Hospitality Management
Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Hospitality Management
There are many colleges that offer online associate degrees in hospitality management. These programs do not require that students take courses in a traditional classroom setting, instead offering hybrid or full-distance learning options. Some of the most prominent colleges and universities with this type of program include:
Bronx, New York
Monroe College offers an online associate degree in hospitality management meant to prepare students for a range of positions in lodging, food and beverage, and the tourism industry. The college provides a high level of academic support, as well as a forum through which the necessary skills can be developed and honed.
- Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management
Central Texas College
Central Texas College offers several associate degree programs in hospitality management. As the first college in the United States that offered a distance learning alternative, they have had years to perfect their system and attract faculty with high experience and superior credentials. Most, if not all, of the required curriculum is available online.
- Associate of Applied Science in Food and Beverage Management Specialization
- Associate of Applied Science in Hotel Management Specialization
- Associate of Applied Science in Restaurant and Culinary Management
- Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry Specialization
- Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts
Albany Technical College
Albany Technical College offers an associate degree in hotel, restaurant, and tourism management online. The program is designed to prepare students for employment in a wide variety of positions in various hospitality management fields. It is also ideal for individuals seeking to upgrade current knowledge and skills in the industry.
- Associates of Applied Science in Hotel/Restaurant/Tourism Management
Casper College offers an associate degree in hospitality and tourism management that can also be completed online. This program gives students the opportunity to go to school while gaining hands-on experience working in the industry. It is specially designed to help students build connections through real, industry-related assignments.
- Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College offers an associate degree in hospitality management. The program is designed to help students learn the basics of lodging and restaurant operation, as well as event management skills and hospitality management training. All of the courses are available online.
- Associates of Applied Science in Business (Hospitality Management)
- Lodging Managers. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved on May 18, 2019 from
- Average Housekeeping Manager Salary. PayScale. Retrieved on May 18, 2019 from
- Trends in College Pricing 2017. College Board. Retrieved on May 16, 2019 from
- Average Restaurant Manager Salary. PayScale. Retrieved on May 18, 2019 from
- Hospitality Management Associate. Youngstown State University.. Retrieved on May 18, 2019 from
Business Degrees & Career Paths