Hospitality, in the broadest sense, is the business of accommodating people. Hospitality is a massive, lucrative and utterly unique industry. Tourism sustains culture. Special events shape our biggest life moments. Cuisine and dining define cities. Globally, $493.76 billion flows through the hospitality industry every year, and with good reason: research shows that spending money on experiences, rather than goods, leads to greater happiness. Whether that experience is a romantic dinner with a date or a trip to Disneyworld with the family, people remain willing to pay top dollar for a memorable experience. Careers in hospitality management are equally unique. Working in the field requires exceptional professionalism, flexibility, organization and exceptional interpersonal skills.
While it’s possible to enter the field without college coursework, an associate’s degree in hospitality management can give you a competitive edge and open the door to greater career advancement. An associate’s degree in hospitality management can be a step on the path toward a bachelor’s degree, but can also stand on its own. Individuals who have an associate degree in hospitality management and four years’ experience earn a median wage of $36,000. With distance learning becoming both popular and affordable, online hospitality management degrees make this path an increasingly convenient and accessible one. Read on for a selection of opportunities available with an associate’s degree in hospitality management.
Hospitality Careers in Restaurant Management and Dining
Americans now spend more money at bars and restaurants ($54.857 billion) than they do on groceries ($52.503 billion). Why? Eating out is an experience that they value. Those with an associate’s degree in hospitality management are eligible for positions in restaurant management and food preparation such as that of executive chef.
An executive chef is the head of the kitchen, responsible for not just preparing food but envisioning the menu, instructing others in creating signature dishes and exercising quality control. He or she must effectively train and supervise staff, and assure adherence to food handling health code guidelines. Kitchens are fast-paced, environments, and an executive chef must perform well under pressure. Job skills required include technical skill in food preparation, problem-solving, staff management and strategic decision-making. Salaries range from $59,000-64,000. Other restaurant positions for those with associate’s degrees in hospitality management include: food service manager, bar manager, caterer.
Hospitality Management Careers in Hotels and Accommodations
As of 2013, there were 52,887 hotels and motels in the United States, generating $200 billion in revenue. People stay in hotels mainly for leisure travel, although some 41% of guests are traveling for business. Whatever the reason for their visit, guests expected to be treated to for those with associate’s degrees in hospitality management clean and comfortable accommodations by warm and professional staff. Hotels often include facilities such as restaurants, gift shops, conference centers, gyms or spas, all under one roof and controlled by one business entity. Those with an associate’s degree in hospitality management are eligible for positions in hotel management preparation such as that of guest service coordinator.
A guest service coordinator interacts directly with customers, welcoming them, overseeing check-in, accommodating requests and making appointments and referrals. They act as liaisons, contacting businesses and service providers on the behalf of guests. A guest service coordinator is expected to go above and beyond to provide personal services such as coordinating a babysitter, finding local entertainment options, making restaurant reservations and arranging transportation. As the face of the hotel, a concierge must be consistently warm and friendly, must be highly responsive and be able to quickly resolve problems. The ideal guest service coordinator not only accommodate the desires of guests, but anticipates them and pro-actively provides services to meet their needs.
Salary varies by experience and the class of hotel, with a median of $29,000 for associate’s-level professionals. Other hotel positions for those with an associate’s degree in hospitality management include: hotel accounting, facilities supervisor, assistant manager.
Hospitality Careers in Event Planning
Ask someone about important moments in their life, and they will often name a celebration, such as a wedding, birth, graduation or anniversary. Businesses and organizations, too, are invested in events, where they can spread their vision and exchange ideas. The execution of an event requires the participation of clients, guests, vendors, performers and staff, as well as specific equipment, food and materials, and each of these entities must be selected, coordinated and delivered. Associate’s degrees in hospitality management qualify candidates for positions in events such as that of event planner.
Event planning involves planning and overseeing all aspects of events, such as weddings, conventions, conferences, memorial services and festivals. Event planning is all about handling the logistics for the occasion, within a designated time frame and budget, so that the event unfolds smoothly. Event planners work with service providers, venues and vendors to bring each in line with the client’s vision, and are the point-of-contact throughout the event. The ability to remain calm and solve problems effectively is essential to successful event planning. Impeccable organization and relationship-management skills are also key. With an associate’s degree in hospitality management, an event planner can expect to earn around $56,000, depending on their experience and the size of events handled. Other event positions for those with an associate’s degree in hospitality management include: event manager, exhibition coordinator, and retail events representative.
Options in Associate’s Degrees in Hospitality Management
Associate’s degrees in hospitality management require mastery of both hospitality and management. Students must learn hospitality skills (customer care, hosting, guest accommodation, etc.) as well as management skills (overseeing staff and facilities). Both technical and interpersonal proficiencies are essential to the field, and the curriculum required for an associate’s degree in hospitality management will reflect these areas. Coursework varies by school, but typically includes business law, marketing, front office procedures, and sales and service, along with study in the areas of travel/hospitality management and food/beverage management.
Prospective students may wish to consider enrolling in distance learning. A recent survey conducted at Georgetown University found that 70-80% of all people enrolled in college-level classes are also working. Many people pursue online degrees in hospitality management while simultaneously working in the field. The flexible learning schedules of most online degrees in hospitality management are particularly well-suited to the irregular work hours often required in the industry. A number of high-quality online associate’s degrees in hospitality management are available, and many are highly affordable or offer enhanced flexibility, such as competency-based learning. With flexible degree choices, a wide range of work settings and lot of room for professional growth, its no wonder so many people continue to pursue careers in the hospitality industry.