Front Desk Supervisor Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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A front desk supervisor's average annual salary is around $22,180. Is it worth the education and training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a front desk supervisor is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Becoming a Front Desk Supervisor

Front desk supervisors at hotels, motels and other types of lodging are responsible for ensuring that guests are welcomed in a warm and courteous manner, that requests for special services are addressed and that issues or complaints are satisfactorily resolved. If you still have reservations, check out some of these pros and cons before deciding if a career as a front desk supervisor is right for you.

Pros of a Career as a Front Desk Supervisor
Non-routine working environment with a variety of leadership roles*
Opportunity for training and promotion through some major hotel chains*
Advanced education is not generally required*
Opportunities to improve the quality of people's lives while they are away from home*

Cons of a Career as a Front Desk Supervisor
Dissatisfied and angry guests can be stressful to deal with*
Front desk activities can be hectic*
Evening, holiday and weekend hours are usually required*
Slower-than-average job growth (1% from 2012-2022)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Front desk supervisors oversee the activities and staff of a hotel's front desk. They are responsible for training and managing the front desk staff, coordinating guest reservations, performing night audits and adjusting bills. In this public-oriented position, front desk supervisors must make certain that each guest feels welcome and attended to, no matter how many visitors are waiting to check in or out. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than half of all lodging managers work in the traveler accommodation business, which includes hotels (www.bls.gov). Other businesses that employ front desk clerks include bed-and-breakfasts, inns, resorts, youth hostels and recreational camps.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

The BLS projected a one percent increase in employment for lodging managers from 2012-2022, which was slower than the average growth for all occupations. As more companies opt to build limited-service rather than full-service hotels, fewer supervisors are needed to oversee individual hotel departments. Competition can be strong for those applying at high-end hotels or resorts. College graduates with a bachelor's degree in hotel or hospitality management can usually find the best opportunities at upscale establishments, according to the BLS.

While there may be more front desk manager jobs available in the future at these limited service establishments, cost-efficient operations will offer nominal wages. The mean annual salary of hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks was $22,180, as reported by the BLS in May 2014. During that same time, lodging managers recorded an average salary of $57,230.

What Are the Education Requirements?

While many full-service hotel chains prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree in hotel management or hospitality, smaller establishments may consider those who have a high school diploma and prior hospitality experience. You also might earn a certificate or an associate's degree in the hospitality field. Certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs in hospitality and hotel management can be found at technical schools, community colleges and 4-year universities, especially those recognized by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (www.acpha-cahm.org).

Curriculum for these programs can include classes in accounting, finance, hospitality law, human resources, information technology and supervision. Some programs also include the opportunity for an industry-related internship. When graduates are ready to assume their front desk responsibilities, employers can expect them to:

  • Understand and implement standards for customer service
  • Manage and mentor others in a team-oriented environment
  • Handle complex situations and solve problems related to work
  • Perform well under pressure
  • Execute multiple tasks in a fast-paced atmosphere

Positions from Real Employers

While it's a social job, a front desk supervisor's position can also be challenging. Although a college degree can greatly improve your chances of finding a job, a high school diploma and equivalent experience might still qualify you to work in the field. A look at the following front desk supervisor positions from April 2012 can give you an idea of the kind of education and experience employers are currently looking for in a candidate.

  • A hotel located less than a mile from an airport in Los Angeles, CA, is advertising for a guest-oriented front desk supervisor to join their team. The minimum requirements for this position include a high school diploma or its equivalent and one year of experience in guest relations with supervisory training or responsibilities. Job candidates must be willing to work weekends and nights.
  • A Georgia hotel in a mountain location with 90 rooms, 25 cabins and conference facilities for 10,000 people seeks a front desk manager to oversee daily operations and supervise the staff. Candidates must have completed some college coursework and need to have two years of hotel experience.
  • A hotel in Las Vegas, NV, is looking for local candidates to oversee all activities related to front desk reservations, night audits, telephone calls and concierge services. Candidates with a 4-year degree in a related major are preferred, and all applicants must have a minimum of five years experience in hotel front office and guest services, including three as a supervisor.
  • A resort in Orlando, FL, needs a supervisor to serve as a role model for the front desk staff in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. One year of hospitality experience, preferably in a timeshare situation, or a bachelor's degree in business or hospitality management are required of candidates who want to assume the responsibilities associated with this position.

How to Stand Out in the Workplace

High school students who would like to become acquainted with the hotel industry and jumpstart their careers have other options besides working as a summer dishwasher or a housekeeper. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute's lodging management program offers students in the eleventh and twelfth grades opportunities to participate in their high school hospitality career program, which combines classroom activities with work experiences. (www.ahlei.org).

Working adults might also want to take advantage of the organization's certification and continuing education programs, especially those who want to address and rectify any gaps in their industry knowledge. The Educational Institute offers a Certified Front Desk Manager credential to those who pass a certification exam. To take the test, you usually must have a combined amount of hospitality training and education.

Get an Advanced Degree

Since a bachelor's degree is often the minimum educational requirement required by larger and more prestigious hotel chains, hospitality professionals who wish to advance even further might want to consider pursuing a Master of Science or a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in hospitality management. This graduate program can give students an opportunity to acquire advanced-level finance, management and strategic planning skills as they pertain to the hospitality industry. Individual schools also offer graduate certificate programs in hospitality management.

Other Career Paths

Food Service Manager

If you wish to work in the hospitality industry, food service managers oversee a food establishment's daily operations and ensure that customers enjoy their dining experiences. Food service managers' work schedules are often longer and more hectic than those of front desk supervisors; these professionals can work up to 12-15 hours a day, reported the BLS. Experienced food workers can find opportunities for advancement at fast food or self-service restaurants; however, an associate's or bachelor's degree is increasingly required for those interested in a management position. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for food service managers was about $48,000 as of May 2011. This job field was expected to decline by three percent from 2010-2020.

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers are the link between a company's top management and their employees. Many of their job duties are similar to those of front desk supervisors. Their responsibilities can include recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training new employees, and work-related travel is often associated with this position. A degree in business administration or human resources is usually required to enter this field. The BLS reported that employment opportunities were expected to grow at an average rate of 13% from 2010-2020. As of May 2011, the median annual salary for human resources managers was approximately $99,000 - more than double that of a front desk supervisor.

Public Relations Specialist

If you wish to interact with people on a daily basis, but don't want to work in hospitality management, you might become a public relations professional. Public relations specialists are responsible for securing a positive public image for a company or an individual. They achieve this by planning and implementing public relations campaigns, writing press releases or raising funds for their employers. A bachelor's degree and related work experience are usually required to work in this field. The BLS anticipated that employment opportunities would grow at a faster-than-average rate of 23% from 2010-2020, with public relations specialists earning a median annual salary of about $53,000 as of May 2011.

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Virginia College

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