The path to jobs in the hospitality & tourism industry will differ when discussing educational requirements, mainly because we’re covering a variety of careers in an industry. There is a wide range of careers you can pursue at every education level, and the level of education you pursue will determine the employment level you aspire to achieve.
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Jump to:2-Year Degree 4-Year Degree
You can begin working in the industry with a high school diploma or less as long as you show the skills necessary for the field. But to get your foot in the door for a promising career, a 2-year degree is a great place to start.
Common jobs that require a 2-year degree are hotel management, hospitality accounting, restaurant management, food safety & sanitation, and hotel & restaurant marketing. These are all careers that you would be qualified for with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Hospitality Management. This degree offers practical management skills you’d be able to use to immediately enter the field.
Receiving an Associate of Science (AS) degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management is a little different as there is a focus on tourism management as well as hospitality. These programs include travel planning skills (like travel sales and airline computer training), event planning, hotel operations, and working on cruises.
Your courses at for a 2-year degree will consist of general education courses covering your core classes (math, science, English, history, arts, etc.) as well as courses in the hospitality & tourism field to complete your degree. Check with your college on if they have partnerships with other institutions that you’re eligible to transfer to after receiving your 2-year degree to continue on for your 4-year degree. You can use the foundation of your associate’s degree to build your career to the next level.
With a 4-year degree, you will cover many of the same topics in a 2-year program, but coursework will have more of a business focus. A 2-year degree will open doors for entry-level employment while a 4-year degree will allow you to manage businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and other food service facilities. Common jobs where a 4-year degree would provide a beneficial background include human resources, marketing, accounting, legal issues (such as hospitality law), event planning services, and culinary arts management.
A master’s degree in hospitality provides the skills needed for entrepreneurship and business development. Acquiring a master’s degree prepares you to work as an instructor at a college or university in your field, to serve in upper-level management positions, or to start your own hospitality business. Many people with master’s degrees serve as managers or supervisors, consultants or business owners.
Jump to:Internships Apprenticeships Vocational Training
Internships are a great way to get experience in the hospitality & tourism industry, especially during breaks from school. If an internship program isn’t officially offered where you are, reach out to different businesses in fields you’re interested in to see if they’d provide a space for you to intern and gain experience. Make sure they know what an asset you’d be to their organization during your time, and what you hope to gain from the experience. Stay in touch with the business/organization/your supervisor once your internship is over; they can serve as a key contact once you’ve completed your studies and are looking for employment or resources.
Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training and education while you work. Food & beverages services and hotel services typically have apprenticeship programs to learn the necessary skills of the job from their mentor/supervisor while working. Not only are you learning the necessary job skills, but also the demands, hours, and problems that usually arise on the job. This is an all-encompassing experience.
Similar to apprenticeships, vocational training provides hands-on learning experiences, but mostly through coursework. This is primarily schooling with an aspect of hands-on learning to teach the necessary skills and later put them into action in a classroom setting. Culinary arts is a common course offered through vocational training programs, which you can find at technical colleges.
Check with your institution of interest to find out more about their admissions application and the hospitality (and tourism) management major requirements.