Hospitality and Hotel Management Schools
The travel and tourism sector is one of the country's largest industries, producing $1.5 trillion in economic output, according to the latest figures from the US Department of Commerce. A diverse industry, tourism includes major subsectors such as air travel, accommodations and lodging, and food services. At the heart of travel and tourism industry are hotel and hospitality professionals that ensure guests arrive at their destination, accommodations are unmatched, and staff are friendly and provide excellent guest services. A diverse and expanding field of employment, prospective students can pursue a variety of career opportunities in areas ranging from sales to human resources, marketing to casino operations.
Hotel management schools and education
Because of the varying nature of academic requirements for employment in the hospitality industry, hotel management schools provide several levels of educational training at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Career diplomas are offered by career schools such as Penn Foster, usually in hotel and restaurant management. These short programs tend to run anywhere from two months to 12 months, and are designed to prepare students to pursue entry-level occupations in the hospitality industry. The focus is on real-world skills in areas such as customer service, front desk management, guest services, catering and housekeeping.
Associate degrees are typical for students who want to develop entry-level skills and knowledge essential to the lodging management profession. You may choose from several educational tracks at the associate degree level, including some of the following:
- Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management
- Associate of Science in International Hospitality and Tourism Management
- Associate of Applied Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management
- Associate of Applied Science in Hotel Management
In these programs, students develop a fundamental understanding of lodging management, from restaurant operations to food and beverage management, convention and event planning to marketing. Curriculum is career-focused, concentrating on equipping students with real-world, practical knowledge and skill sets through corporate externships and internships.
Bachelor's degrees in hospitality management may be a good choice for students who possess a firm understanding of common hospitality business practices, are familiar with day-to-day business operations and would like to learn effective management techniques across various hospitality sectors. Students take classes specific to the hospitality industry, such as human resources, organizational behavior, and facilities management. Students also study strategic management, food service operations, financial accounting, leadership and hospitality operations. Bachelor's programs also traditionally allow students to specialize their studies around an area of concentration. Concentrations vary by program but common examples include restaurant management, meeting and events, and gaming (casino) management.
Master's degrees in hospitality management are specifically designed for industry professionals seeking career advancement and leadership positions. These programs may typically take 18 to 24 months after earning a bachelor's, and they are often available entirely online for working professionals. Coursework is expansive, covering topics such as revenue management, marketing systems, event management, customer service, strategic management, and project management. Depending on the specific institution and program, students may be required to complete a research project or master's thesis. Students may also focus their studies in a singular concentration, such as:
- Casino management
- Food service management
- Hotel management
- Convention and Meetings Management
Hotel management certifications and licenses
Hospitality professionals may select from a variety of certifications across all facets of the industry, including spas, food and beverage, hotels, hospitality education, and more. Professional certifications are available through industry associations and membership organizations, such as the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, the Hotel Asset Managers Association, and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. These designations are open to workers across the hotel and hospitality management industry, from the entry-level front desk clerk to the hotel executive.
Below is a description of example certifications in various levels of hotel and hospitality management.
- American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI): The AHLEI is a nonprofit arm of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. It is an organization that offers hospitality education and professional certification in more than 20 hospitality industry positions. Example certification areas include sales, security, housekeeping, food and beverage, and revenue management. The most well-known AHLEI certification is the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA).
- Certified Hotel Administrator: This certification is available to hotel general managers, corporate executives, assistant general managers or director of operations. Candidates must have at least two years of experience in those roles with one-year exceptions for individuals with an academic degree from an accredited institution or having a current AHLEI department head certification.
- Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA): HAMA is a membership and networking organization comprised of 200 professionals in hotel and hospitality management. It is dedicated to the support and professional development of individuals in the industry and has expanded to offices in both Japan and Singapore. The group's certification, Certified Hotel Asset Manager (CHAM) is designed for individuals in leadership positions.
- Certified Hotel Asset Manager: Created in 2012, the Certified Hotel Asset Manager certification is open to professionals who have at least seven years of leadership experience in hotel asset management. The examination consists of 200 multiple-choice questions in multiple areas such as hotel operations, financial analysis, real estate and physical assets, and contracts and legal aspects.
- Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI): The HSMAI is a global membership organization with approximately 7,000 members from 35 countries. The group represents professionals working in marketing, sales, and revenue management in the hospitality industry. Certifications are available in revenue management, hospitality sales, hospitality marketing, and digital marketing.
- Certified Revenue Management Executive: Eligibility is determined on a point scale, with candidates requiring at least 50 points to become eligible to sit for the examination. The point system is determined through employment qualification: professional experience; on-the-job responsibilities; industry support activities; and education.
Other HSMAI certifications include the following:
- Certified Hospitality Sales Executive (CHSE)
- Certified Hospitality Marketing Executive (CHME)
- Certified in Hospitality Business Acumen (CHBA)
- Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer (CHDM)
Hotel management career outlook
As of May 2015, there were more than 15 million people employed in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the past five years, the industry has grown by 16 percent, adding more than 2 million positions. Because the term "hospitality industry" covers such a wide spectrum of businesses and entities, there are myriad employment opportunities in the space. Traditionally, careers can be grouped into several subsets: Hospitality Management; Tourism and Conventions; Foodservice Management; and Gaming. Below is a snapshot of example career paths in each of the major hotel and hospitality management industry.
- Hospitality management: Front desk manager, executive housekeeper, resort director, human resources manager
- Tourism and convention: Events coordinator, convention sales manager, destination marketing coordinator, meeting planner
- Food service management: Restaurant manager, beverage manager, purchasing agent, kitchen manager
- Gaming: Casino marketing coordinator, slot floorperson, casino cage supervisor, race and sports book supervisor
There are hundreds of potential career paths open to graduates of hospitality schools. The chart below details nationwide employment opportunities for four common hospitality careers.
Total Employed (2014)
Median Earnings (2014)
Career Projections (2012-2022)
States with Best Opportunities
Washington, Utah, Iowa
Utah, Georgia, Virginia
Food service manager
Utah, Washington, Arizona
Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
The global tourism, travel and hospitality industry accounted for 277 million jobs globally in 2014, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. The council projects the United States will remain the world's largest travel and tourism economy in the world in 2015, which should be welcomed news to students considering a hospitality school degree program.
- American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, https://www.ahlei.org
- American Hospitality Academy, http://www.americanhospitalityacademy.com/
- Colorado Mountain College, Online Hospitality Management Certification, http://coloradomtn.edu/programs/hospitality_management/
- Hospitality Asset Managers Association, http://www.hamagroup.org/cham.php
- Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, http://www.hsmai.org/
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Leisure and Hospitality, http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag70.htm
- Hospitality.net, Travel and Tourism in 2015 will grow faster than the global economy (WTTC Reports), http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4069673.html