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HOSP1001: Orientation to the Hospitality Industry (Buckley): Hospitality Careers

Career Paths



  • Efficiency, profits and guest experience – hotel managers are responsible for it all. Managers inspect guest rooms and grounds for cleanliness, greet and register guests, set room rates, track cash flow and handle customer queries and complaints. Types of managers include general managers, revenue managers, front-office managers and convention-service managers. To land a manager’s job in a large, full-service hotel, you need a bachelor’s degree in the field. Smaller operations require an associate degree, or a high school diploma and several years of experience working in a hotel. Lodging managers earned a median annual wage of $51,800 as of May 2017, and an average of $59,620, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bottom 10 percent of earners made less than $28,930, while the top 10 percent made over $98,370.



  • Desk clerks are at the front line of customer service. They make and confirm reservations, and greet, register and assign rooms to guests. Desk clerks issue room keys and give escort instructions to bellhops. They also contact housekeeping or maintenance when guests report problems. These hotel workers keep track of guest accounts, handle bookkeeping and collect guest payments. Most desk clerks have a high school diploma or less. Desk clerks took home a median annual income of $24,250 and an average of $22,850, as of May 2017. The bottom 10 percent of earners made under $17,670. The top 10 percent made over $32,810.



  • Bellhops and baggage porters take luggage to guest rooms. They provide weighing and billing services for shipments of baggage, mail and parcels. They help disabled guests with special needs. These lodging workers also complete baggage insurance forms, issue charge slips for services and keep records. Most bellhops and baggage porters have a high school diploma or less. The median annual income for baggage porters and bellhops as of May 2017 was $23,230, with an average of $26,100; the bottom 10 percent of earners got less than $18,160, and the top 10 percent were paid more than $38,250.



  • Maids and housekeeping cleaners keep rooms clean and comfortable. They make beds, vacuum rooms, empty trashcans, deliver ironing boards or rollaway beds and replenish soaps, shampoos and other supplies. They have to lift and move lightweight objects. Hotels don’t have formal education requirements for maids; training happens on the job, under experienced maids. Maids and housekeeping cleaners, including those who worked in hotels, earned a median of $22,860 and an average of $24,630 as of May 2017. For the bottom 10 percent of earners, earnings were under $17,720. For the top 10 percent, earnings were over $35,080.




Host/Server, Prep Cook/Dishwasher

  • If you’re in the front of the house, you’ll start out as a host or server. If you’re in the back of the house, you’ll start out as a prep cook or dishwasher.

  • Managers must always know how every aspect of their restaurant functions. Starting out at the bottom is a great way to learn how a foodservice establishment operates. Knowing exactly what your employees go through on a shift to shift basis is a great way to earn their respect.
  • Also, there will be times when you have to jump in and help out. You’ll want to know what you’re doing. If you’re hired into a company as a management trainee, it’s very likely their training program will have you working in every position of the restaurant at some point.

Bar or Service Manager

  • After learning the restaurant positions and functions, you’ll be able to move to higher level positions such as the Bar Manager or Service Manager.
  • In these positions, you’re given the responsibility of managing small teams of employees, mentoring and training, and handling opening and closing duties to ensure the restaurant functions at its highest level.

Assistant General Manager

  • After Bar/Service Manager, the next step is taking the reins as Assistant General Manager. At this level, it’s common to be paid a salary instead of on an hourly basis. This level of management is also typically offered benefits.
  • The trade off is, the hours are long. You’ll be the first to arrive in the mornings or the last to leave at night. But, you’re also learning the upper-level management skills needed to someday run your own restaurant.

General Manager/Owner

  • This is typically the highest position in the restaurant. You have final say in all business decisions. You’re in charge of making sure the business is a success. You’re responsible for all employees. If you’re working for a corporation, you can still progress higher than GM. If you’re working for a small company, this could be the highest you can get before you move to the next step of owning your own business.

If you decide to go the corporate route, other possible positions to achieve could be:

  • Area Manager
  • Regional Manager
  • Division Executive