Hospitality & Tourism Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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Get the truth about salaries in the field of hospitality and tourism. Read job descriptions and learn about education requirements and career prospects to decide if a career in hospitality and tourism is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Hospitality and Tourism

The field of hospitality and tourism encompasses three major service categories: travel agent, hotel & lodging manager, and food service manager. If you think the hospitality and tourism industry is a good fit for you, take a look at the following pros and cons.

Travel Agent Lodging Manager Food Service Manager
Career Overview Travel agents assist individuals and groups of travelers in planning trips. Lodging managers oversee the operation of hotels, motels and inns.Food service managers direct the daily operations of restaurants and other establishments that serve food and beverages.
Education Requirements No formal education required, but courses and degrees are available. Large facilities generally require a bachelor's degree while smaller hotels may accept a certificate or an associate's degree.Experience is often valued over education, though more restaurant chains are hiring candidates with bachelor's degrees.
Program Length N/A Four years full-time for a bachelor's degree. N/A
Certification and Licensing Some states require licensing. None required, but certifications are available through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI). None required, but certification is available through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
Experience Requirement None; entry level Several years of experience or a combination of education and experience Some experience required
Job Outlook for 2012-22 Declining growth (-12%) compared to all occupations * Little to no growth (1%) compared to all occupations * Little to no growth (2%) compared to all occupations*
Median Salary (2014) Roughly $34,800* Roughly $47,680* Roughly $48,560*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Travel Agent

Travel agents help individuals and groups who are traveling for business or leisure. They arrange transportation and lodging, follow travel budgets and make suggestions about destinations, attractions and requirements. Travel agents spend most of their time working from call centers or offices, although you may visit locations to find recommendations. Some travel agents have expertise in a certain location or demographic, such as travel for senior citizens or cruise line booking.

Requirements

Entry-level travel agent positions usually require a high school diploma. However, associate's degree and certificate programs are offered at many schools. Bachelor's degree programs in hospitality might also appeal to you if you want to become a travel agent. Nearly all positions require some degree of on-the-job training.

Nine states require registration or certification for retail sellers of travel services. Requirements vary between states. Additionally, you may earn a voluntary certification through the Travel Institute, the International Airline Transportation Associate's Training and Development Institute or the American Society of Travel Agents.

In November 2012, some employers of travel agents were looking for the following:

  • In Texas, a travel agency sought an associate to arrange international travel. Proficiency in world geography and airfare, as well as experience in the industry, was required.
  • A Phoenix travel agency specializing in travel for small businesses sought a travel manager to meet client demands, work with other travel agents and build relationships with clients. Candidates were asked to have a strong sales background.
  • In Denver, a travel company advertised for a travel agent with software knowledge and customer service skills. Travel agency experience or graduation from a travel school was required.

Standing Out

As a travel agent, you can stand out by pursuing optional training opportunities. Voluntary certification and courses offered through community colleges or vocational schools may set you apart. You can also stand out by having first-hand travel experience. Clients may be more likely to take your advice if you have visited a location and can make recommendations based on personal experience. According to the BLS, travel agents who specialize in a particular type of vacation package, such as adventure vacations, should have the best prospects. Business knowledge is also helpful if you intend to run your own business or manage others in the industry.

Lodging Manager

Lodging managers work at hotels, resorts, inns and other properties. They oversee operations to ensure that facilities are running efficiently and visitors' needs are met. Typical duties include greeting guests, managing finances, overseeing staff members and ensuring that rooms and pubic areas are clean and meet the standards of visitors. You may work nights and weekends in this career, since lodging facilities are open 24 hours. Many lodging managers begin their careers at small hotels and progress to larger facilities or markets.

Requirements

Educational and experience requirements for lodging managers vary by facility. You may qualify for an entry-level position with a high school diploma and some experience in the industry. Large hotel chains and resorts generally require applicants to have a bachelor's degree. Programs in hospitality and hotel management are offered at many colleges and universities. Coursework in this field generally covers industry-specific computer training, management, accounting and marketing. Facilities that offer fewer services may hire applicants with associate's degrees or certificates.

In November 2012, employers advertised for the following:

  • An RV park in Florida sought an experienced property manager to direct staff, draw in new customers and oversee finances. Applicants needed marketing experience and computer skills.
  • In Maine, a beachside hotel needed a manager with strong communication skills, customer service experience and self motivation.
  • A Tennessee condo resort sought a general manager to oversee staff, communicate with guests, enforce company policies and handle billing.

Standing Out

Since education requirements vary in this industry, you can stand out by attending a hospitality or hotel management program. You can also get experience while you're in high school by attending the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute's Lodging Management program, which is offered at 245 high schools nationwide. Being able to speak a foreign language may be helpful in this career if you want to work internationally or in a market with many foreign travelers.

Food Service Manager

Food service managers work in restaurants, catering companies, cafeterias and other establishments that provide food and beverages. They oversee staff and daily operations, manage finances and enforce standards in the kitchen and dining areas. Food service managers often work long hours and are generally expected to work during the typical lunch and dinner hours.

Requirements

Food service managers generally do not need postsecondary education. Experience gained through lower-level industry positions can provide enough preparation to move up the industry job chain. For example, starting out as a waiter or cook can prepare you to step into management positions. However, bachelor's degree programs in hospitality or food service management are available. On-the-job training is also needed.

In November 2012, employers sought the following:

  • A chain restaurant in Washington advertised for a restaurant manager to hire, train and oversee staff, enforce company policies and conduct purchasing. A high school degree or its equivalent, as well as two years of experience, were preferred by the employer.
  • In Denver, a steak house advertised for a candidate with experience to schedule staff, oversee day-to-day operations and motivate employees. Candidates were required to have at least two years of experience managing a medium- to high-volume foodservice establishment.
  • A food service company in Chicago sought a general manager to oversee food services at a museum. Duties included managing finances, communicating with staff members and guests and ensuring the safety of all employees.

Standing Out

One way to stand out as a food service manager is to earn a voluntary certification. The National Environmental Health Association offers a number of food safety training programs and certification for food managers. You may also pursue the Foodservice Management Professional program offered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Another way to stand out is to gain experience in many positions. Since food service managers work with both kitchen and dining room staff, you can benefit from working in both settings to gain a better understanding of restaurant workflow, staff management and customer service from multiple perspectives.

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Liberty University

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Full Sail University

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  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • B.S. - Music Business

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Walden University

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) - Energy Management
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) - Homeland Security
  • BS in Business Administration (BSBA) - General
  • BS in Business Administration (BSBA) - Management

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Purdue University Global

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Grand Canyon University

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Florida Tech

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  • Master's in Business Administration

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Independence University

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Penn Foster

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