Career Paths in the Hospitality Industry
Your path toward a fulfilling career as a hospitality manager largely depends on where you begin your journey. Regardless of your present position, however, a degree in hospitality administration from a credited university is an absolute must if you are truly serious about your professional ambitions.
Individuals with little or no career experience have two basic options. Those who want to get a thorough understanding of a particular hospitality sector from the ground up can begin their journey with a non-managerial degree from a hospitality school and begin climbing the corporate ladder from the lowest rungs. If you take this path, however, you should subsequently plan on completing some sort of postsecondary administrative program in order to reach the top of the ladder with the necessary confidence and skill.
In order to accelerate their professional development, many aspirants to the hospitality industry choose an entirely different career trajectory. By enrolling in a quality hospitality administration program, they are able to avoid much of the “grunt work” that goes along with starting hospitality positions and put their professional life on the fast track. If management is really where you want to be, an undergraduate degree or, better yet, a graduate degree in hospitality administration can save you years of labor in the trenches.
Individuals who are already professionally established in another industry may already have many of the workplace skills that are necessary to excel in the hospitality and tourism sector. However, even those who possess a wealth of management experience will find that much of their knowledge fails to translate in this new professional arena. Managers from a wide range of fields can certainly capitalize on their existing proficiencies and apply what they already know to their new careers in hospitality, but they also must learn to adapt their skills by acquiring a firm grasp of the hospitality fundamentals. If a switch to the hospitality sector is in your future, completing an industry-specific educational program is always a good idea. Specialized institutions like our school, the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, offer a variety of hospitality programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Look into the specifics of each of these programs and choose one that is right for you.
For most people, the first step of the hospitality management journey is choosing a particular area of professional interest. The hospitality employment website Hcareers lists many career paths that fall under general banners such as hotel management and travel/tourism operations, as well as less obvious professional possibilities such as event planning and spa management.
A tremendous amount of vertical movement is possible within any of these specific areas. For example, a line cook at a resort restaurant can work his way up to an apprentice chef position before making the leap to full chef. From there, this individual may ultimately become an executive chef, the owner/operator of his own restaurant, or a resort manager in charge of cuisine. To demonstrate the typical stages of advancement in a variety of hospitality sectors, the Hospitality Guild has posted an interactive Career Map on its official website. All of these career paths end with a terminal post as a regional manager, director, or owner.
In addition to facilitating vertical professional promotions, the hospitality industry also allows managers and administrators to move horizontally between similar sectors of interest. A senior executive at a global hotel chain, for example, may find later success as the director of operations for a major cruise ship line. Of course, additional sector-specific education and training will inevitably be necessary in order to ensure a successful horizontal career transition.
In short, hospitality workers can either concentrate on a specific industry sector or a specific industry function. Common hospitality sectors include:
- Food and beverage
- Bar and pub
- Events and meetings
- Spa and wellness
- Casino gaming
- Travel and tourism
- Resort sport operations
Common hospitality functions include:
- Finance and controlling management
- Revenue management
- Human resource management
- Sales and marketing management
- Communication and public relation management
No matter what career path you choose to take, a degree in hospitality administration is absolutely indispensible for anyone who wants to climb the ladder in this challenging but rewarding field. At the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), we offer three university-level programs: a Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management, a Master of Science in Global Hospitality Business, and an Executive MBA in Hospitality Administration. Whether you want to find employment with an existing hospitality organization or strike out on your own as an entrepreneur, we can help get you where you want to be.