Choosing a Career in the Hospitality
|Today, wages for the hospitality industry are very competitive as compared to those for other industries, and a wide range of salaries are available.|
So, it is time to decide what you will do with your life. What will you choose? Perhaps you might consider a career in the hospitality industry. What is the hospitality industry? The hospitality industry is defined as the activity of providing lodging, food and beverage, and recreational services, which include but are not limited to hotels, motels, clubs, casinos, restaurants, recreation facilities, tourism, cruise lines, and theme parks. Wow, what a variety of options! A multi-billion dollar industry, hospitality is our country's third largest industry employing nearly 9.5 million people nationally. Your options are great, but what does this mean to you?
Check this out: the history of the hospitality industry dates all the way back to the Colonial Period when, in 1794, the first City Hotel opened in New York City. Things have changed quite a bit since then; the hospitality industry has experienced significant development over the years as it has faced World Wars, The Depression (ask your history teacher!), and various social changes. The industry as we know it today began to take form in the early 1950s and 60s, leading the way for growth into the dynamic industry we know today. Career options in the hospitality industry have continued to grow along with the industry.
What career options are offered in the hospitality industry? Where do you start? What types of careers are available? These are the major questions to consider when pursing a career in the hospitality industry. The following descriptions outline the different levels of hospitality positions you might enter into.
Entry-Level: This is where you start; the experience and skill you will gain in these positions can prepare you for advancement in your career. Typically the tasks are related to your position and are a valuable component to the success of the hospitality entity.
Skilled-Level: This is the next step where you will develop specific skills and capabilities that can be transferred from one position to another (you are on your way).
Managerial-Level: This is when your experience, training and initiative are combined to create your ability to lead employees and manage business.
The following are specific career opportunities you can obtain in the hospitality industry:
- Hotel Manager
- Sales Manager
- Travel Journalist
- Front Office Manager
- Reservation Manager
FOOD & BEVERAGE
- Restaurant Manager
- Kitchen Manager
- Banquet Manager
- Bar/Club Manager
- Campground Manager
- Tour Escort/Operator
- Meeting/Conference Planner
- Travel Consultant
- Recreation Specialist
As you can see you have many choices, but what qualities must you possess? The hospitality industry, like many other industries, seeks and requires a certain personality to be successful, you must:
• Like People
• Be a Hard Worker
• Have strong Communication Skills
• Be willing to Sacrifice
• Maintain a Professional Appearance
• Have "Common Sense" (be able to think on your feet to respond to guests' needs)
Although these qualities may seem simple, they are constantly put to the test due to the requests of people served by this very demanding industry. Regardless of where you work within hospitality, you will be required to exceed guest/customer expectations to ensure the experience they have at your facility is valuable, pleasant, and memorable.
Once you obtain a position and work hard, what can you expect to be paid (what is your worth)? We all expect to be well compensated for a job well done! Although the history of wages in the hospitality industry has been considered low, times have changed! Today, wages for the hospitality industry are very competitive as compared to those for other industries, and a wide range of salaries are available. Several elements, beginning with capability/skill and performance, will impact your income; additionally, types of property, location, and position are factors that are also included. Employment outlook for the hospitality industry varies by occupation; however, wage and salary employment in hotels and other lodging places is expected to increase 13% from 2000-2010. This job growth is due to rising personal income, an increase in the number of two-income families, low-cost airfares, and a greater emphasis on leisure activities on in our society.
What type of education will you need to obtain a job in the hospitality industry? The industry is becoming increasingly complex with a greater emphasis being placed on specialized training. Demand is increasing for people with special skills obtained in colleges, junior colleges, technical institutes, vocational schools, and high schools. Programs range in length from a few months to several years. Nearly 200 community and junior colleges offer 2-year degree programs in hotel and restaurant management. It is possible to obtain a 4-year college degree in the liberal arts or other fields and enter into a trainee or junior management track. However, a bachelor's and master's degree programs in hotel and restaurant management provides the strongest background for a career as a hotel manager, with nearly 150 colleges and universities offering programs. Graduates of these programs are highly sought by employers in this industry. New graduates often go through on-the-job training programs before being given much responsibility. Eventually, they can advance to a top management position in a large chain operation.
How do you find the right school/program for you? First you need to ensure you are committed to achieving a higher education. Consult with your guidance counselor, teachers, and parents. Make sure you have prepared yourself for the academic testing that will be required for enrollment. Second, what are your financial options to pay for an education? Seek alternatives available such as scholarships, grants, loans, etc. Third, do your homework and research various types of institutions to find out which one is right for you. Ask what type of curriculum is offered, what type of experience is available, what type of placement support can you expect?
Lastly, remember your career decision must be YOUR choice. A career in the hospitality industry can be very rewarding and will take you along paths you may never had considered. The hospitality industry can be very exciting and glamorous, and it will afford you the opportunity to travel and work with thousands of people. Each day is different from the previous day. New challenges and increasing job opportunity is what makes the hospitality industry so great and why it has survived for so many years.
Editorial provided by Gregory L. DeShields, Associate Director of Industry Relations, Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.