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Youthentity column: Career options in the hospitality industry

Kirsten McDaniel
Youthentity executive director

At Youthentity, we believe that one of the tenets in setting kids up for future success is allowing them to “try on” different roles and careers to better determine their individual strengths, along with their interests and passions. In presenting young people with career options through our youth development programs, we love to introduce them to the Hospitality industry. When considering career tracks to offer our students through our high school career exploration program, Career Academy, hospitality is an obvious choice as our local economy largely relies on tourism.

COVID aside, Hospitality also offers a fair amount of stability, and a multitude of opportunities. In 2019 the industry employed 16.8 million people in the United States alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hospitality comprises myriad roles, which is one of the reasons it’s such an interesting industry in which to work. Hotels and resorts need finance experts, housekeeping, marketing teams, security, engineering and maintenance, conference sales and human resources management, to name just a few common industry jobs and careers. They also need talented and dedicated chefs and restaurant managers, which is our focus at Youthentity.

The industry exists in an expansive geographical range. Cities, small towns, mountains, seaside destinations –hospitality jobs exist everywhere. Industry salaries are quite diverse as well, depending on years of experience and size of the business (employment in a large chain hotel vs. a boutique hotel, for example). The industry employs many entry-level jobs that require basic education and skills, as well as an abundance of management and mid-level positions. Hospitality jobs are often accessible from an educational standpoint as well. Larger hotel chains, such as Marriott or Hilton, may offer management training for employees and encourage participants to experience roles at different hotels in the chain.

Snapshots of common jobs in the hospitality industry

Hotel General Manager

Average salary: $77,000 a year with 10-14 years of experience.

Education required: Most hotel managers will have post-secondary education such as a bachelor’s degree, though it is not a requirement.

Sous Chef

Average salary: $45,000 to $65,000 annually, depending on level of experience and location.

Education: Although a degree is not required to become a sous chef, they are generally required to complete formal culinary training after high school. Associate and bachelor’s degree programs in culinary arts are available at culinary institutes, colleges and technical schools. Culinary students can expect to pay about $30,000 for a two-year associates degree at Johnson & Wales University. A four-year bachelor’s program at the Culinary Institute of America can cost over $100,000.

Hotel Accountant

Average salary (national): $53,000

Education: Although not required, most accountants attend college and earn a bachelor’s degree. However, a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is considered the minimum education requirement for those who plan to become a CPA.

Restaurant manager

Average salary: $45,000

Education: College not required but encouraged.

There are many benefits of the hospitality industry, including: living in a desirable place; relative job stability; and opportunity for growth, particularly within a larger company. There are, of course, potential drawbacks. When the economy shrinks, hospitality can be one of the first industries to see negative effects. Tourist destinations rich with job opportunities often come with a higher cost of living. Hours can be long, and employees can expect to work many holidays. Through Career Academy, students are able to explore the industry and determine whether it is something that matches their interests and aligns with future goals.

Next month: Careers and jobs in health care and veterinary medicine.

Kirsten McDaniel is executive director of Youthentity.


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