What Does a Career in Hospitality Management Entail?
One of the top ten biggest industries, among 48 states, is Hospitality, according to the “American Hotel and Lodging Association” (AHLA).
Dictionary.com defines the word, “hospitality” as, “the friendly treatment and reception of strangers and guests.”
Although this sounds similar to customer service, there is a difference. Customer service representatives aim to solve customer issues, where those in the hospitality industry are looking to accommodate guests who may or may not have issues during their stay.Read More
Someone working in the hospitality industry would ensure that guests are made to feel welcome, comfortable, and important in their place of business. The ability to cater to strangers is one of the many good qualities one must possess in this industry.
A survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that in the hotel and restaurant industries alone, there are more than 328,000 business, management, and financial occupations and out of every 15 workers, one is employed in the hospitality industry.
Business Degrees & Career Paths
Components of a Successful Career in Hospitality Management
Education and experience are the most important components of being successful in a hospitality management career. However, even with experience or hands-on training, you may not get your dream job right away, you will usually have to start at the bottom and work your way up by way of an entry-level position that you use to get your foot in the door. It may take several years to grow in this industry, but patience is a virtue, hold true and you will get there.
Once you’re in, you can start providing quality service to guests and work to gain your employers recognition, which can earn you a promotion to a higher-level position and so on. For example, someone who starts off as a desk clerk and does well in his/her job, will eventually move up to a chief room clerk, then an assistant office manager, office manager, sales and promotions manager, until they finally reach their dream job as a hotel manager.
How to Earn a Degree in Hospitality Management
What can you do with a Hospitality Management Degree?
The hospitality industry is filled with a broad array of exciting fields to follow, such as lodging, transportation, traveling, gaming, food & beverage, entertainment, event planning, tourism, and more.
If you decide on working in the hospitality industry, you may work for…
- Theme Parks
- Cruise ships
- Convention centers
Some of the occupations in the hospitality industry include:
- Hotel Clerks
- General Managers
- Convention Center Planners
- Maître d’
- Reservation Ticket Agents
- Gaming Dealers
- Executive chefs
- Housekeeping (Maids)
Typical Hospitality Management Degree Requirements
According to the BLS, a lodging manager can take one of three educational paths:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management or Hospitality
- Get a certificate in Hotel Management or an associate’s degree
- Have a combination of a high school diploma and extensive experience working in a hotel environment
The BLS estimates that around 25% of all hotel administrators graduated high school, 20% hold an associate’s degree, and 28% earned their bachelor’s degree. Although achieving a higher education is not required, most employers will choose the job applicant with the most training for a position.
Not everyone jumps right into the hospitality industry and lands a job fresh out of school, as most employers want to hire someone with experience or at least on-the-job training. Therefore, it would be wise to take a part-time summer job or an internship while attending college and gain some experience.
Typical Hospitality Management Certifications Needed
Many colleges and universities offer graduate or undergraduate level certification programs in hospitality or hotel management with 4 to 10 courses (depending on the program) that usually take just one year to complete.
However, the Certificate of Hotel Administration (CHA) is probably the most valuable of all certifications. The recipient of this certificate is recognized among the top credentialed professionals in the hospitality field. To obtain the CHA you will need six months of work experience or a 2-year degree.
There are a number of educational elements necessary to be considered a certified hotel administrator capable of excellent job performance. Those seeking to receive certification in hotel administration must demonstrate their level of expertise and continue to sharpen and improve their skills while staying up to date in the field after they achieve the award. Generally, the skills that must be demonstrated are:
- Managerial excellence
- Organizational skills
- Analytics proficiency
- Administrative protocols
- Leadership; Ability to oversee professional individuals or groups
- Capable of ensuring operations run smoothly and standards are maintained
Academic Standards for a Hospitality Management Degree
There are several standards you will need to meet in order to obtain a degree in hospitality management. First, you must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of, usually, at least a 3.0 every semester. In addition, you may also be required to complete the following courses:
- Food & Beverage Management
- Electronic Reservation Systems
You can get started in high school if you would like to get a head start, but first, you would need to find a school that offers the “Lodging Management” training program provided by the “American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute,” which takes two years to complete.
Exam/Experience Needed for a Hospitality Management Degree
In order to earn a certificate, you will be required to take an exam. There are both graduate and undergraduate certificates available. You can study online but will need to attend an internship in-person. There will be similar topics and additional courses in a graduate certificate program that may include hotel business statistics, hospitality industry ethics, hospitality finance, front office accounting, etc.
If you wish to pursue a certificate offered by the “American Hotel & Lodging Association,” you will need exam preparation materials. You can complete the exams online, however, they must be taken under a proctor’s supervision.
For the CHS credentials, you can purchase a series of exam workbooks that cover topics such as staff scheduling methods and time management techniques.
Important Questions To Ask
How long does it take to earn a Hospitality Management bachelor's degree online?
Typically, it takes four years to obtain a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management; however, there are many ways to reduce that time, such as a fast-track or online distance learning programs.
How much does a Hospitality Management bachelor’s degree cost?
According to the “College Board” the average tuition and fees cost of a four-year bachelor’s degree program for in-state students is $8,655 per year and for those out-of-state students $21,706 per year. The cost at private institutions is even higher. However, each institution sets their own tuition cost, so you should do some research at the institutions near you or the online programs you are considering before assuming an institution is out of your financial reach.
Hospitality Management Bachelor's Degree Coursework
The coursework required to obtain a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management will equal about 60 credits of major classes and another 60 credits of general education courses. The courses for your major may include the following…
- Restaurant & Hotel Marketing & Sales
- Hospitality Financial Management
- Facilities Management
- Restaurant Management
- Hospitality Law
- Hotel Operations
Does the school have the major(s) you’re considering?
While declaring a major when applying to a college may be a good idea at some schools, as it shows you know what path you want to take, and you are committed to it, this can also lead to your status being compared to others who are interested in the same major. Thus, your test scores, math aptitude, and course rigor will go up against others applying for the same major.
Of course, declaring a major in a competitive field can complicate things at some schools, but it can also lead to some generous scholarship programs and financial aid for you.
Schools differ in the way they consider majors; some colleges may not even take the major you are interested in into account, thinking you are still too young to know what you want, as many students tend to change their mind later about the major they choose. In fact, it is estimated that 50-70% of students will change their mind and choose a new major at least once.
These are all good reasons why it is important for you to do some research first, ensure that the major you are interested in is available, and find out the policies the school has on majors.
How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?
There are many reasons why a student won’t get their degree on time as intended. One reason is that they might bite off more than they can chew by taking extra courses that they don’t even need to earn their degree and all it does is add time to graduation.
Some research found that a higher percentage of students who are undecided about what they want to major in and wait up to two years before choosing a major, graduate on time in four years. These first two years are mostly focused on completing general education courses and trying out a couple programs that you might want to major in, so this isn’t a bad strategy.
What kind of accreditation does the program hold? How is it regarded in the field?
There are actually two types of accreditation and two types of branches. The two types of accreditation are programmatic and institutional, and the two branches are regional and national. Institutional accreditation refers to accrediting the college or institution where programmatic accrediting involves accrediting programs within the institution. National accreditation tends to be awarded to schools who focus on student career success and Regionally accredited institutions focus more on academic success and teaching excellence.
Regional accrediting is considered as the top form of accreditation. It covers both two and four-year institutions with degree-granting public, private, and non-profit institutions. Generally, regional accrediting organizations oversee almost 3,000 institutions and provide quality education to more than 17 million students in six regions of the U.S. that include:
- New England
National Accreditation doesn’t only focus on a few regions; rather they focus on the whole nation (and internationally) and oversee nontraditional and specialized institutions nationwide such as:
- technical colleges
- online universities
- religious colleges
- vocational colleges
Even though national accreditation may be well regarded, it has its flaws and the main one is that some of the regionally accredited institutions will not accept course credits from nationally accredited institutions.
National accreditation also has two branches– career-related and faith-related. Career-related accredits most non-degree-granting, for-profit, and single-purpose schools that are career based. Faith-related generally oversees degree granting, non-profit, faith-based institutions.
In today’s world, information technology (IT) applications are vital to hotel operations, yet they are often not covered enough in hospitality program courses. However, hospitality schools aim to change that and provide students with the tools and skills necessary to help them succeed in a rapidly changing world of technology.
An in-depth literature review was conducted that involved collecting data from 110 professionals in the hospitality industry who were given a questionnaire to answer. The results of the study indicated that students attending hospitality schools need more training in the following areas:
- Using spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel
- Using email systems that include Outlook Express and Thunderbird
- Using word processing programs like Microsoft Word
- Manners that are more efficient, need to be practiced when presenting data
- Using the point of sale systems in programs like Micros
- Analyzing numerical data with computers for SPSS and Excel
Degrees work like levels, after reaching one level you can continue your education to move up to the next. The order starts with associate’s degree, then bachelors, masters, and doctorate. Thus, the higher the level, the better the position you stand to get, but higher levels also comes with higher prices as well.
Students who attend college in their home state will see a significantly lower cost than those who attend school out-of-state. Additionally, it will also cost more to attend a brick-and-mortar school as opposed to taking online classes.
Associates Degree in Hospitality Management
The hospitality management associate degree program is broken up into two types: an associate of science in tourism and hospitality management and associate of science applied in hospitality management.
The science in hospitality & tourism associate degree program mainly focuses on event planning, cruises, and travel sales management principles. The applied science associate degree program focuses mostly on sanitation, food safety, hotel management, and hospitality accounting. Both programs require at least 60 hours of coursework, although some may require over 90 credit hours.
You can typically earn your associate degree in hospitality within two years of study both online or on campus, although some may offer part-time or accelerated programs that can help speed things up a bit. Part-time programs allow you to complete your degree coursework gradually. Moreover, the volume of coursework is more spread out with much lighter workloads than other programs.
Depending on the school, accelerated programs may take 12 to 18 months to complete and the coursework is heavier and more intense.
Cost can range from as low as $6,000 per year to as high as $45,000 annually.
- Hospitality Supervision
- Front Office Management
- Business Topics: including Accounting and Math
- Hospitality Legality
- Facilities Planning
- Cost Control
- House Management
Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management
The hotel management bachelor’s degree program is generally offered as a concentration in hospitality management. You will be trained in marketing, management, overseeing employees, organization, conferring with executive board members or hotel owners, quality control measures, making schedules, purchasing materials, training new personnel, creating marketing campaigns, setting or laying out budgets, developing profitability models, monitoring hotel security, and more to oversee hotels
The courses for hotel management will be combined with other courses like communications and business. Moreover, field experiences in lodging and internship opportunities may also be included in the program.
A typical bachelor’s degree program in hospitality can take 4 years to complete or you can take some of the faster routes available such as continuing your courses through the summer.
Cost can range from as low as $9,000 per year to as high as $60,000 annually
- Hospitality Ethics & Systems
- Operational Analysis
- Lodging Operations
- Industry Experience Intro.
- Organizational Behavior
- Facility Management
- Service Operations Management
- Legal Issues
- Human Resources & Personnel Management
- Information Systems
- Systems & Control in Foodservice
Events and Conventions Coordination (Event management), Casino Management, Restaurant Management, Hotel & Lodging Management, Hospitality Law, Food Service/Restaurant Management, Recreation-related Industries, Club Management, Hospitality Financial Management, Restaurant & Hotel Sales and Marketing, Food and Beverage, Travel and Tourism Management, and Hotel Operations.
Master’s Degree in Hospitality Management
After you have obtained a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, you can continue your education for another two years or more and earn your master’s in hospitality management. However, the UK offers programs to earn your master’s degree in hospitality management that can be completed in just one year.
A master’s degree in hospitality management is the best choice for those who enjoy putting a smile on people’s faces and ensuring their comfort in an environment away from home. It takes a professional demeanor to hold such a position with big responsibility involved. As a hospitality leader, you must possess soft skills such as leadership, communication, and problem-solving along with business and marketing knowledge, while having patience and tolerance. You could work for one of the top corporations in the industry such as The Hilton, and Marriot, or for major cruise ships, casinos, and more.
Studying at a post-graduate level for hospitality management will involve learning to assess alternative methods, approaches, and decision-making for issues that those in hospitality management are faced with most often. Although the teaching methods may differ between institutions, your curricula will most likely include a combination of lectures, seminars, web-based study, field trips, and work placement opportunities that will give you some on-the-job training and experience.
Cost can range from as low as $10,000 per year to as high as $90,000 annually
- Human Resources Management
- Investment Strategies
- Hospitality Legality
- Financial Accounting
- Leadership and Management
- Event planning
- Culinary Theory and Practice
- Facility Assessment and Operations
- Interpersonal Skills
- Hospitality Financial Management
- Hospitality Marketing
- Managerial Accounting
Asset Management, International Hospitality Management, Beverage Management, Event Planning and Management, Hotel Management, Hospitality Market Analysis, Restaurant Management, Hospitality Digital Marketing, Sustainability Management, and Hospitality & Tourism.
Careers & Salaries
Between 2016 and 2026, hospitality management careers are estimated to increase by 4%, and from 2014 to 2024, the number of lodging managers employed will also increase by 8%, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS). For lodging managers, the median annual salary was $47,680, in 2014.
Annual Median Salary by Field of Study
|Field of Study||Entry Level||Mid-Career|
|Food & beverage||$47,497||$54,899|
|Hotel & Resorts||$52,766||$65,000|
Annual Median Salary by Occupation
|Human Resource Manager||$56,303||$64,943||$72,566|
|Business Travel Sales Manager||$44,049||$54,695||$66,540|
- Restaurant managers are in charge of eating establishments where they hire and train staff, as well as create their schedules and keep pace with business demands. These professional leaders set standards for the quality of the food served at the restaurant and the services provided by staff and ensure these standards are met.
- Housekeeping Managers are in charge of overseeing all daily housekeeping operations along with hiring, training, scheduling, and ensuring staff keep up standards and regulations. They also set and maintain all quality standards, availability, and cleanliness — not only in public areas — but also in private areas as well.
- Hotel Managers have the responsibility of supervising tasks and leading staff at hotels. Their job duties include hiring, training, scheduling, and maintaining staff while ensuring hotel quality standards are met daily. They also oversee the maintenance of the hotel and assess the environment, create work orders, and coordinate service repairs when necessary to stay up to date. In addition, hotel managers are also responsible for payment processing and bookkeeping.
- Human Resource Managers have many roles in their organization relating to the company's employees that include: overseeing policies, compliance, and procedures. They ensure the employees' workplace is accommodating and harassment-free, handle complaints, recommend new standards for company policy, and maintain compliance with local, federal, and state laws. Typically, human resource managers also oversee insurance and work-related programs such as open enrollment, maternity, and sick leave, bereavement, retirement, and other arrangements pertaining to staff needs and fulfillment.
- Business Travel Sales Managers are generally employed by hotels. Their job is to market travel plans to companies for their employees contemplating business trips. This position entails marketing skills and strategies through written communication, oral presentation, and video productions. There are also some sales involved with this position.
Hospitality Management Scholarships
Louis N. Ventresca Scholarship
Deadline: April 15
Distributed through the New York State hospitality & tourism association, this is the most honored scholarship program awarded to current college students or high school seniors working at a property of a member or who are dependents of qualified employees.
Phone: (518) 465-2300
The UNCF Carnival Corporate Scholars Program
Deadline: January 22
These program partners with and is sponsored by, Carnival Corporation and seeks college sophomores interested in a career in the hospitality industry. To qualify, your first two years in college must demonstrate analytic and strategic abilities as well as leadership.
Contact: Tawanna Lee
Two Ten Higher Education Scholarship
Deadline: April 19
The awards of this program are based on financial need as well as personal character and academic performance.
Samuel Huntington Public Service Award
Deadline: January 18
A graduating college senior pursuing a career in public service anywhere in the world may receive this scholarship award.
NEWH San Francisco Bay Area Scholarship
Awards: from $5,000 to $10,000
Deadline: July 01
These awards will be granted to four students pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.
Professional Hospitality Management Organizations
Professional organizations are generally non-profit associations dedicated to continuing education for career advancement purposes and offer many related benefits to their members such as networking opportunities, seminars and lectures, learning courses, and more. In addition to standard member services, students will have access to professionals in the industry who can advise them.
American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)
The AHLA is focused on “uniting, supporting and moving the industry forward”. They provide information on advocacy issues, communications guidance, industry research, a list of useable job descriptions, and a best practices center in their members-only section.
National Restaurant Association (NRA)
This association provides different benefits depending on your connection with the industry: restaurant operator, instructor, student, etc. They are partnered with companies such as marketing asset management platforms and credit card companies, and United Healthcare in order to offer perks to members.
National Tour Association (NTA)
Joining the NTA can help members with continuing educations credits, networking within the industry, and attending some of the top conferences and seminars on travel.
U.S. Travel Association (TA)
This association aims to help professionals in the industry stay connected and make new connections. They provide access to advocacy and research programs as well as expert economic analysis and market-based research.
Choosing an Accredited College
In order to gain a quality degree, you will need to attend a school that has earned accreditation, ensuring that the school has met certain standards and is up to date on teaching methods and more. Besides the fact that most employers pay special attention to the accreditation of the college you attended when considering whether or not to hire you, think about how much money it costs for you to get a good education. The U.S Department of Education will not offer financial aid to students attending a non-accredited school.
Online vs On-Campus vs Hybrid
It is up to you to decide where and how you will attend college. Years ago, we didn’t have any choice but to attend a brick-and-mortar school, but with the new age of technology, we can access college courses online or through a hybrid program, allowing students to attend half their classes on campus and half online. Sometimes, even if you attend school online you will still need to visit the campus for certain exams or for hands-on experience.
In today’s world, it is possible to attend college online and still work a full or part-time job. Even students who attend school on campus sometimes find it necessary to work to help pay for college fees and self-support.
Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?
Students should never have to plan their education path alone. It’s not always easy to identify the different career choices available and the roles each position is involved in, not to mention how much they earn, what courses you must take, and how much they cost. This can take a lot of research and time in an effort to gain an understanding of positions in the job industry that you can train to qualify for.
Therefore, many colleges and institutions have job placements help and assistance services available, not only to plan your education path but to also place you with an employer who will be waiting to hire you upon earning your degree. If a school does not offer a professional service to its students, you may want to keep looking for an institution that is more reliable and more of a benefit to your career.
Why You Need to Consider How Rating/Accreditation Can Affect Your Salary
It’s not just that accreditation allows you to receive scholarships or federal financial aid that makes accreditation important. Accreditation is often referred to by employers, recruiters, and higher level education institutions to decide whether or not to hire you, refer you to an employer for hire, or allow you into their educational programs. Even if an employer chooses to hire you without an accredited degree, they will never hire you at the highest level of pay available for the position. The same can be said for unknown institutions who, even though they are accredited, are completely unknown by employers in the field you’re entering. It might be cheaper to go to an unknown school that just got accredited, but they won’t have built up any influence in the corporate world. It’s not impossible to get a good job, but it might be harder and that’s something you need to be aware of.