Why Get a Hospitality Management Degree?

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - April 17, 2017
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Those who are involved in the field of hospitality management have a wide and varied role because the industry is also wide and varied. These executives are responsible for the management of casino chains, resorts, hotels, or other such establishments. They are passionate about tourism and about making sure that the people they serve have the best experience possible, while at all times adhering to federal and state regulations. A hospitality manager understands what people want when they are on holiday, but they are equally good at understanding how to create value for money, cutting costs within their establishment without compromising on visitor quality.

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The main responsibility of someone in this field is to make sure that tourists have an experience that they can enjoy. This means managing the staff within the establishment, addressing any problems or issues the customers may have, and remaining professional at all times. At the same time, it means managing budgets and making financial decisions, but also being ready to respond to a crisis, like a fire or theft.

Hospitality Management Opportunity

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), lodging managers with a high school diploma or equivalent can expect to earn around $49,720 per year. As of May 2015, it was also expected that there would be an 8% growth in demand for these professionals from 2014 to 2024, which is as fast as the national average. This translates into around 3,700 new jobs.

Hospitality Management Career Paths

According to the BLS, there were around 48,400 lodging managers in 2015. Of these, over 50% worked in the hotel and motel industry, also known as the traveler accommodation industry. The other half worked in various areas, such as resorts, casinos, bed-and-breakfasts, boarding houses, inns, youth hostels, recreational camps, and RV camps.

The field of hospitality management, as you can see, is incredibly broad. It is also continuously growing, as people start to place greater demands on the tourism industry. For example, bridal consultants, a profession that was virtually unheard of two decades ago, are now considered to be hospitality managers, particularly because so many weddings take place in hotels, and because so many people now have beach holidays. A small sampling of positions available within the field of hospitality management is provided below:

  • Catering manager
  • Accommodation manager
  • Fast food restaurant manager
  • Event organizer
  • Public house manager
  • Hotel manager
  • Restaurant manager
  • Bridal consultant
  • Travel agent

Clearly, it is a very varied field of work overall.

Hospitality Management Salaries

Of key importance to what someone can earn in the hospitality management industry is where in the country they work. Certain areas of the country, such as Florida, have a strong tourism industry which translates into a much greater demand, and therefore greater opportunities. In other parts of the country, the hospitality industry is more complex in terms of regulations, such as in La Vegas, which means people with additional skills are required, which in turn means higher pay.

According to the BLS, the bottom 10% of lodging managers earn $28,300 per year or less. On the other hand, the top 10% of lodging managers earn $94,330 per year or more. The BLS has also reported on the top five states to work as a lodging manager, which are:

  • New Jersey, with average annual earnings of $102,400.
  • The District of Columbia, with average annual earnings of $101,970.
  • Virginia, with average annual earnings of $80,540.
  • Arizona, with average annual earnings of $80,200.
  • Delaware, with average annual earnings of $74,790.

Take note, however, that locations that offer higher salaries usually have higher costs of living, so make sure to take that into account.

Hospitality Management Employers

The employer of the hospitality manager is also crucial to determining how much would be the salary. Huge chains like the Four Seasons or Hilton, for example, will pay a lot more than a motel on a minor highway. Indeed.com has reported on a number of key employers and their average earnings, stating that those employed by:

  • COREcruitment Hospitality earn around $135,751 per year.
  • Big Wednesday Digital earn around $103,370 per year.
  • Michael Page earn around $102,246 per year.
  • PetSmart earn around $16.14 per hour.
  • Recruiting With Results earn around $87,719 per year.
  • Patrice & Associates earn around $76,784 per year.
  • Goodwin Hospitality earn around $67,710 per year.
  • Gecko Hospitality earn around $69,078 per year.
  • Hilton earn around $70,589 per year.
  • Horizon Hospitality earn around $62,002 per year.

Meanwhile, Glassdoor.com has also reported on earnings, stating hotel managers at:

  • Extended Stay America earn around $41,306 per year.
  • Hyatt earn around $49,711 per year.
  • Four Seasons earn around $92,945 per year.

Hospitality Management Bachelor’s Degree

It is very important, if you want to build a rewarding and lucrative career in the field of hospitality management, that you obtain a good education. This starts with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. It is classed as a type of business degree, which is reflected in Cornell University’s bachelor of science in hospitality management, which is accredited by the AACSB, the gold standard in business education accreditation. Cornell University offers four concentrations, which are:

  • Services Marketing & Operations Management (SMOM)
  • Finance, Accounting & Real Estate Concentration (FARE)
  • Hospitality Leadership Concentration (HOLD)
  • Undergraduate Minor in Real Estate

Hospitality Management Master’s Degree

If you really want to advance your career in the field of hospitality management, you should consider getting a master’s degree. It is with a master’s degree that you are most likely to obtain positions of leadership and executive management, with the corresponding attractive salaries and benefits. There are numerous master’s degrees that you could consider, and one example is the one offered by Michigan State University, Eli Broad College of Business, The School of Hospitality Business, which is a top rated one. Their Master of Science in Business Management Degree is also covered under the school’s regional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission.

Hospitality Management Admission Requirements

Admission requirements are something that each school can determine themselves. That being said, they are designed to demonstrate that the applicant has the capacity to complete a master’s degree, and to cope with the in-depth curriculum that it offers. As such, admission requirements are usually pretty similar across the board. For Michigan State University, those who want to be admitted to the Master of Science degree in Hospitality Business Management should:

  • Have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Submit all transcripts from previous schools.
  • Submit GMAT/GRE scores for consideration.
  • Have an acceptable GPA.
  • Must hold at least one year’s relevant work experience.
  • Complete prerequisite courses if applicable.

Hospitality Management Curriculum

Schools are also able to set their own curriculum. This is why it is so important to check that the college or university you are considering is properly accredited, because this demonstrates that the program meets or exceeds the minimum standards accepted in the industry. It also demonstrates to prospective employers that your degree shows you have the right skills and experience, enabling it to be accepted all across the country.

The curriculum set by Michigan State University for their Master of Science in Hospitality Business Management includes courses in:

  • Approaches to Educational Research
  • Workforce Management in the Hospitality Industry
  • Hospitality Information Technology
  • Hospitality Business Law
  • Financial Management in the Hospitality Industry
  • Hospitality Business Research
  • Marketing in the Hospitality Industry
  • Supply Chain Management

Students must then choose elective courses from disciplines that include:

  • Hospitality Business
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Communications
  • Advertising
  • Labor and Industrial Relations
  • Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies.

As part of the curriculum, students must also choose a field of study to complete, which must relate to the major they are studying towards. Their academic advisor must also approve their chosen field study.

Furthermore, before students can be considered for the final examination to complete their degree, they must hold a semester GPA of 3.9, as well as a cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Hospitality Management Financial Assistance

Gaining an education is certainly an expensive undertaking, especially when you want to pursue a master’s degree. You must invest both time and money to complete it, with a bachelor’s degree generally taking four years to complete, and a master’s taking two years. In some cases, completing some or all of your degree online can mitigate the time investment that you have to make. In terms of the finances, all schools can link you to federal financial assistance, and most also have scholarships and grants that you can apply for. External scholarships and grants also exist, such as the:

  • $5,000 NEWH Women Leaders Scholarship, to the value of $5,000.
  • ABA Academic Merit Scholarship, to the value of $2,500.
  • ABA Diversity Scholarship, to the value of $2,500.
  • ABA Member Scholarships, to the value of $2,500.
  • AH&LEF Annual Scholarship Grant Program, to the value of $6,000.
  • AH&LEF Graduate Scholarships, to the value of $5,000.
  • Al Schuman/Ecolab Entrepreneurial Scholarship, to the value of $5,500.
  • APA Judith McManus Price Scholarship, to the value of $4,000.
  • AREMA John J. Cunningham Memorial Scholarship, to the value of $3,000.
  • Catching The Dream Program, with varying values.

Generally speaking, you must meet certain specific requirements in order to apply and be considered for a scholarships. These include being a member of professional organizations, studying towards a certain major, belonging to a certain minority group, holding a certain GPA, demonstrating financial need, and so on.

Hospitality Management Certifications

There is generally no legal requirement for someone in the field of hospitality management to become certified. However, certification does show prospective employers that you are serious about furthering the standards of your profession. It should be noted, however, that it usually takes at least six months to prepare for certification, as well as a considerable financial investment. Furthermore, you must maintain this certification, which means that you need to make further investments by getting continuous education credits. While this may sound like a disadvantage, most people who have completed a certification say it has been worthwhile. Some of the certifications you may want to consider as a hospitality manager are the:

  • AHLEI Professional Certification
  • Certified Hospitality Revenue Manager
  • Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA)
  • Certified Hotel General Manager

You may also want to consider becoming certified in certain software programs commonly used in the hospitality industry, such as Microsoft and SAP.

Hospitality Management Associations

If you are serious about your career in the field of hospitality management, you should consider joining a professional organization or association. In fact, it is recommended as soon as you decide to study towards hospitality management, not in the least because many of these associations offer scholarships to its members. By being part of an association, however, you will always be at the forefront of new developments in your industry. Furthermore, you may be able to access continuous education credits should you have become certified. Perhaps the most important benefit of all, is that you will be better able to build a professional network, which can always serve to further your career. Some of the professional organizations you may want to consider are the:

  • American Culinary Federation (ACF)
  • American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA)
  • American Resort Development Association (ARDA)
  • American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)
  • Association of Hospitality Financial Management Educators (AHFME)
  • Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME)
  • American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)
  • Association of Bridal Consultants
  • Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE)
  • Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA)


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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