Pros and Cons of Becoming a Certified Hotel Administrator
Hotel administrators, sometimes referred to as hotel or lodging managers, are responsible for the overall operation of all types of lodging facilities, from hotels to cruise ships to recreational vehicle camping parks. Read on for more of the pros and cons of the field to see if becoming a certified hotel administrator is a good fit for you.
|PROS of a Hotel Administrator Career|
|Educational requirements (25% have a high school diploma, 21% an associate's degree and 28% a bachelor's degree)**|
|Can work anywhere in the world*|
|Can work in exotic locations*|
|Many companies offer financial incentives*|
|CONS of a Hotel Administrator Career|
|Slower-than-average estimated job growth (1% between 2012-2022)*|
|Hours can be long and irregular (must sometimes be on call 24 hours a day)*|
|Can be physically demanding*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net OnLine.
Essential Career Info
The job duties of hotel administrators vary, depending on the size and type of lodging facility in which they work. Essentially, lodging managers are responsible for making sure their facilities run smoothly and effectively. As a result, administrators must be effective managers, in charge of hiring and firing, overseeing lodging staff, delegating everyday responsibilities, developing effective budgets and making sure the hotel's operations remain within that budget.
Excellent people skills are a must for interacting with staff and hotel guests, some of whom may be upset if they're not receiving the treatment they expect. A keen eye for detail is important, as hotel administrators inspect every aspect of the facilities they manage to make sure everything is in proper working order. They must also be able to handle criticism and direction from the facilities' owners. Knowledge of computer systems is also necessary, as the work can entail crunching numbers, keeping track of inventory, setting room rates and monitoring reservations.
A current trend in the lodging industry to move to fewer full-service hotels and more limited service facilities has diminished the need for hotel managers and administrators. The downturn in the economy has also had an effect on job prospects. Lodging companies are making efforts to cut expenses by streamlining, or eliminating multiple administrator positions at their locations. However, tourism and travel is a booming industry that is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for all hotel administrator jobs through 2022 is expected to be 1%, which is slower than average when compared to all other occupations.
Salaries for certified hotel administrators vary greatly, depending on the size of the lodging company in which they work, its location and whether or not it's a full-service facility. The median annual wage for hotel administrators in May 2014 was about $47,680, according to the BLS. In that year, the lowest 10% earned roughly $28,630 per year, while the highest 10% earned about $94,780.
What Are the Requirements?
While it is possible to become a hotel administrator by starting in a lesser position and working your way up, you may want to pursue a 4-year degree in hotel administration or a related field. According to the BLS, about 60 hospitality management programs are approved by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration and many vocational schools offer training programs for people interested in this field. Professional lodging management associations also offer educational opportunities for prospective administrators. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute association offers a program for high school seniors and juniors that allow them to receive training and prepare for certification without ever attending college.
Courses in a hotel administration degree program can include everything from business and accounting to developing knowledge of good food and wine to learning computer systems for offices. Many colleges require that students spend an extensive amount of time - as much as 800 hours - working in the field, which can increase chances for landing a job upon graduation. Those just entering the field tend to start their careers working at smaller hotels, gaining the experience they need to take on the heavier responsibility required by larger, full-service facilities. Among the skills you will need in the hotel administration field are:
- Leadership and team building skills
- An attention to detail
- Ability to meet deadlines
- Excellent people skills
- Computer knowledge
- Patience and flexibility
Job Postings from Real Employers
A look at the available lodging manager positions shows that education and experience are key ingredients for finding a position in this field. The ability to handle multiple tasks at the same time is also essential, as is the ability to work with other people. To give you an idea of the wide range of skills and experience prospective employers seek, the following are a few hotel administrator job listings from Internet job websites in May 2012:
- A major hotel in New York City was seeking a general manager to oversee staff and training, make sure all guests receive top quality service, perform employee performance appraisals and manage the staff schedule. The job required at least seven years of luxury hotel management experience, a positive and high-energy personality, computer knowledge and the ability to be flexible and fill in when needed.
- A cruise line was looking for a hotel manager to work on cruise ships to destinations all across America. The successful applicant would manage housekeeping and food service, train and supervise staff, interact with customers and engage in regular communication with the cruise line's main office. A bachelor's degree in hotel management and three years experience were required, as was the willingness to work 6-8 consecutive weeks followed by one to two weeks off.
- A hotel in Mississippi sought a general manger to develop staff strategies, establish a hotel operational system, deal with budgeting issues, inspect the facility on a regular basis and respond to and resolve customer complaints. Two to five years of experience were required, as were excellent skills in the areas of people management, planning, self motivation and customer service.
- A national hotel group posted an ad for a general manager to oversee a hotel on the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Job duties included running the facility's sales and marketing programs, managing the staff and hotel operations, keeping the hotel within an established budget and leading a productive team. Requirements included three years experience at a full-service hotel, financial experience, self motivation and excellent communication and problem solving skills.
How to Stand out
Management experience is the best way to get noticed in the field of certified hotel administration. Managers who have handled the varied challenges that hotel administrators face greatly increase their chances for successfully landing jobs. College coursework in areas such as business and accounting can be helpful for those beginning their careers, as can jobs in other customer service fields. A number of professional hospitality management organizations offer educational opportunities for gaining the type of knowledge applicants may need to succeed in this demanding field.
Though many colleges offer degrees in hotel administration, not all of them are accredited or offer certification preparation. Attending an accredited school can look good on an applicant's resume, and certification sends a message to employers that you are ready to handle the challenges posed by this field.
Another good way to stand out is to join one of the career's professional organizations, such as Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) or Luxury Hoteliers. In addition to providing networking opportunities, continuing education programs and job listings, many of these groups offer certification that can get you noticed in the industry. For example, the Certified Hotel Administrator credential is described by the AHLA as 'the most prestigious certification available to a hotel general manager or hospitality executive.'
Focusing your experience on a specific type of lodging facility can improve your chances for success as a hotel administrator. If working in a resort or other exotic locale interests you, pursue jobs at these types of facilities to gain the experience that can put you ahead of applicants who have worked at, for example, urban hotels. Job listings often advertise for applicants who have experience at a certain type of facility, such as luxury full-service hotels. Managing the lodging operation for a cruise ship is much different than running an interstate motel. Choose your focus and gain the experience you need for success in that area of the field.
Other Career Paths
Gaming Services Worker
Workers at casinos and other gambling establishments are engaged in the customer service industry, but often don't need the education and experience required to be a certified hotel administrator. Gaming workers run the various casino games, keep an eye on the gaming floors for safety and security and work to facilitate customer needs. They earned a median annual salary of about $20,000 per year, not including tips, according to BLS in May 2010. Salaries are highest for gaming managers ($70,000) and gaming supervisors ($49,000), the BLS states.
Job prospects in this career depend on whether you work as a dealer or supervisor. Employment in the field in general is expected to grow by 13% between 2010 and 2020, which is about average for all jobs. However, there is an increasing demand for table games, which means the job outlook for dealers may grow by 17% by 2020, the BLS reports.
A career in property management allows you to oversee facilities and housing developments without the hectic pace, educational requirements and lengthy experience required for certified hotel administrators. Property managers make sure residential, industrial and commercial buildings look appealing, maintain their property values and operate smoothly. They have a wide range of duties, including collecting rents and fees, renting properties, overseeing maintenance and responding to tenant complaints and violations.
The downturn in real estate values means more and more people are moving into apartments and managed residential communities. However, the BLS indicates that the growth rate for property managers through 2020 will be 6%, which is slower than average for all occupations. Applicants with business administration, real estate or a similar degree or background stand the best chance for successfully finding jobs. Salaries are better than those for hotel administrators, with the BLS reporting median wages for property managers at about $51,000 in May 2010.