Economy & Jobs

Hospitality Careers: Choosing Your Path in the Booming Tourism Industry

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Members of Generation Y are well on their way to becoming the most frequent travelers for both business and leisure, and the hospitality industry is booming because of it. Millennials looking for a promising career that also offers travel and entertainment perks can take advantage of exciting opportunities to work with same-age colleagues in this industry.

Hospitality careers primarily encompass the fields of tourism, hotel management, event planning, and entertainment. As a growing Millennial industry, more hospitality companies are looking to hire members of this generation and offer customized benefits packages suited for the younger workforce.

Learning the Leisure Trade

Millennials should consider their personal goals when determining whether to pursue employment opportunities in the hospitality industry—or any other industry—including job satisfaction, responsibilities, and career options. Obtaining a degree in hospitality is important before embarking on a career in the field. Many colleges offer pertinent programs such as undergraduate and master’s degrees in hotel management, tourism administration, marketing, and service management. For example, Florida, a popular tourist destination, boasts more than 35 academic institutions that offer undergrad studies in hospitality.

The salary range in the hospitality field is quite wide, but those in management positions can make up to $100,000 a year, or more. Competencies in customer service and sales are particularly valuable. But young adults with less experience should temper their financial expectations: In Florida, the median hourly wage for hotel desk clerks is $10.52, though more experienced customer representatives can earn more. Ask yourself if you have the competencies and personal drive to attain higher paying positions within the industry.

Sunny Outlook

In terms of economic impact, the U.S. travel and tourism industry generated more than $1.5 trillion in economic activity in 2012 and sustained 7.8 million jobs, according to the government-affiliated organization SelectUSA. Travel and tourism is the nation’s top services export, and the U.S. boasts the most tourism exports worldwide. In addition, the White House reports that the U.S. receives the second largest amount of international visitors worldwide; despite a recovering economy, the industry has been sustained by foreign travelers visiting the United States.

Southern Hospitality

Geography and climate play a key role in tourism numbers—and therefore job opportunities. For instance, a sizable number of Americans from the Midwest and Northeast flock to southern states to enjoy sunny weather during the cold season. This might factor into your job search since the South, especially Texas and Florida, expects hiring growth over the next several years. Southern states are also looking to increase their numbers of international tourists, who typically spend much more than domestic visitors.

Recent Florida statistics demonstrate the large number of hospitality opportunities for Millennials: There are more than 370,000 hotel rooms in the Sunshine State, and the state’s leisure and hospitality sector added nearly 150,000 jobs between December 2010 and April 2014, many thanks to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010. That’s a gain of 16 percent, according to the New York Times, and that kind of growth is expected to continue.

States such as Texas and Florida also offer certain perks of residency attractive to the workforce, including no personal income tax, right-to-work laws (stipulating that you can’t be forced to join a union), and homestead protection (which protects property from creditors).

Hospitality careers can be an exciting path for Generation Y, especially when you are drawn to the sunny beaches of Florida. Hiring increases, young colleagues, and a leisure-related work environment might be a great fit for many Millennials to consider.

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Over 6,000 articles appear under Marv Dumon's byline. He has written for Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Yahoo!, and Fortune 500 clients. Marv previously worked in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and Six Sigma, and earned BA, BBA and MPA degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.