Hotel Jobs Offer Fast Track to High Positions

It might be hard for students to imagine that a summer job working as a bellhop or a member of the waitstaff could be the launch pad for a successful career in lodging. But a recent survey conducted by WageWatch and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) shows that hotel jobs offer a fast track to higher management positions.

The survey set out to obtain a better understanding of pay practices within the lodging industry, and determine the career path of employees who begin their professional careers in hotels.

Data collected from the survey reveals that throughout the hotel industry, general managers, senior executives, and chief executive officers began their careers in hourly entry-level jobs, and found access to careers with the ability to earn a promotion. Over half of the survey’s respondents had at least one C-suite executive who began their hotel career in an hourly entry-level position. The survey shows that employees have the ability to forge a rewarding career path, and they can quickly move up the job ladder, with most employees becoming eligible for promotion after just one year of employment.


In the nationwide survey, 99.5 percent of respondents reported that at least some of their general managers began their hotel careers in hourly entry-level positions, and more than half of department managers started in hourly entry-level positions.

It is often a concern within the industry that employee retention rates are dropping, as it has recently become a trend among young employees to only stay at one job for a few years. However, individuals who started their careers in the lodging industry tend to stay, as they find there are many chances for employees to explore new opportunities and have a sense of high job satisfaction, according to the report.

The lodging industry provides millions with rewarding careers that promote long-term growth opportunities with an accelerated path to management positions. Typically, hourly job earners have found that the hotel industry is a place to grow. This sentiment of growth contributes to the low turnover of hourly employees, and speaks to the competitive pay, benefit practices, and career opportunities within the organization.

Ninety percent of survey respondents reported that salaried employees stay with their company for an average of five years or more, and 75 percent of respondents said hourly employees stay on for more than five years on average. Additionally, 97 percent said that at least some of their top executives started their hotel careers in an entry-level line position.

Survey participants included 400,000 full-time and part-time employees representing more than 21 percent of the lodging industry labor force and 10,300 hotels across the country.