By: Kristen Shelton, Director of Sales & Marketing

Great news! You’ve decided on a career in hospitality! So, now what? Well, first and foremost, congratulations on your decision! Working in hospitality is among the most rewarding fields and provides many flexible opportunities. Whether you are looking for guest-facing customer service positions or behind-the-scenes operations hotel jobs, hospitality has it all! With so many options, you can use this guide to build your career path in the hospitality industry!

Work Your Way Up!

Whether you are starting right out of high school or looking to make a career change, you want to start in a hospitality job that will give you valuable experience. Entry-level positions to help get your foot in the door are positions like,
  • Front Desk Representative
  • Housekeeping Room Attendant
  • Hotel Maintenance Technician

Starting in one of these positions will give you a sound knowledge base of your job function. You will learn how hotels operate and how each department works together.
After 1-2 years in one of these positions, you should be ready to advance into a supervisor role. Stepping into a supervisory position will allow you to practice what you have learned and taken on more of a leadership role in your hotel career. As a supervisor, you will have team members report to you. You may have some scheduling responsibilities. As well as reporting and administrative duties, you will learn more about hotel management in preparation for your move.
After another 2-3 years in a supervisor role, you will be ready to advance into a hotel management job. The more experience you have in a hotel career, the more you will be able to handle different situations and challenges on the job. Your first hotel management job could be a Front Office Manager, Assistant Executive Housekeeper, Operations Manager, or Facilities Manager position. There are many employees to supervise, many job functions to manage, and more reporting responsibilities in hotel management jobs.
In these roles, leadership becomes a critical component of your daily duties. As you grow personally, you will need to figure out a management style that is the most effective. You will likely want to flex your management style to suit the many different situations you will face. Keeping your team motivated and accountable will require setting boundaries but also being empathetic to your team.
While everyone grows and advances differently, after 4-5 years into your career in hospitality management, you will be ready to move into upper management positions. Each of these positions will help groom you for your next significant role.
Upper Management Positions
  • Assistant General Manager
  • Executive Housekeeper
  • Chief Engineer

Growing Broader

This guide is an example based on a linear growth pattern of someone being promoted within a single hotel throughout their career. However, not everyone’s path will look like this. Sometimes growing into your next position requires moving to a different hotel management job for a more prominent role or opportunity.
Depending on the size and type of hotel, you could accept a Front Office Manager position at a select service hotel and, after several years, take a promotion to a much larger full-service hotel and still have a Front Office Manager title. The roles and responsibilities for each of these listed positions will change by company, hotel brand, and size of the hotel management job.

Becoming a General Manager

If becoming a General Manager is your primary goal, there are many opportunities to grow within this same title. Being a GM of a small extended-stay hotel may be a great entry-level GM position for someone. Growing into a full-service GM or a GM of a large resort may require additional steps and posts throughout your career in hospitality.
Imagine the responsibility a General Manager of a 1500-room hotel would have!

Education in Hospitality

 So, maybe you took a different path to get here. Congrats on getting into your hospitality program! There are so many excellent programs and schools for hospitality and tourism. There are 2-year associate programs, as well as 4-year degree programs.
By taking this path, you will have a different experience in starting your career in hospitality. You will have the opportunity to get formal classroom training about careers in hospitality.
Formal education in hotel management is an excellent way to start your career in hospitality. Once you have the book smarts, you will need to get the ever-so-important practical full-time hotel job experience. For someone in a college program, this may look different. Many students will work part-time hotel jobs while in school to help gain experience. Others may work full-time hotel jobs in the summer while in between semesters.
Most 4-year programs will require an internship in the hospitality field. An internship can take place during a semester or during the summer and are an excellent opportunity to gain experience and help you decide how you want to proceed with your career in hospitality after college.

You’re Graduating; Now What?

Most college graduates will be eligible for entry-level manager-in-training programs. Some larger hotel management companies and hotel brands have programs for recent graduates. These are excellent opportunities to kick off your career in hospitality!
Some graduates may want to take supervisor or coordinator roles to get their foot in the door with specific hotels.
With your educational background and job experience, you can grow into other management positions throughout your career in hospitality.

Above-Property and Brand Roles

So, you have excelled in your hospitality career growth and still want to advance? What next? If you are still hungry for more growth and new challenges, you may be an excellent candidate for an above-property corporate role or a role with a specific hotel brand.
There are positions in sales, revenue management, operations, and many other disciplines that are above property or within a brand. These positions typically oversee a portfolio of hotels. Overseeing multiple hotels requires a different type of management style and thinking. When you are on a property, your focus is to run a singular hotel. In a position overseeing a portfolio, your focus is to be very strategic and support and guide your hotels.

Time to Jump Right In!

Overall, there is no wrong way to get started! The hotel industry has a vast number of opportunities and experiences for anyone wishing to make this a career. Hopefully, this guide to building your career path in the hospitality industry will help move you in the right direction!