The top high-paying jobs in hospitality reach into six figures for professionals who combine industry knowledge, business acumen and people skills, according to data from Salary.com, which powers Monster’s Salary Wizard.
After shedding workers during the recession, the hospitality industry started to shake loose in 2010. Restaurant chains began building back the teams it downsized in 2008, while casinos and other large sources of hospitality jobs stepped up campus recruiting of entry-level managers. The one area where dark clouds remain in the hospitality job market: budget hotels.
High-paying hospitality jobs almost all require three things: education, experience and solid leadership skills, says Bobbie Barnes, director of the Bob Boughner Career Services Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ College of Hotel Administration.
If you’ve got all three, you may want to steer your career toward one of these seven high-paying hospitality jobs. (Salaries listed are median and include bonuses.)
Casino Property General Manager: $218,300
To land a lucrative casino manager job, start with a four-year degree to get a broad-based education in business and hospitality, then pick up experience in the components of a casino resort -- operations, food/beverage, convention, hotel and entertainment. “Be passionate and eager to learn every aspect of the organization,” Barnes says. “There’s no clear path to general manager positions. Upward mobility is more like a lattice where you move over, go up or down, or make a lateral move.”
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Regional Chef: $124,800
Regional chef jobs dried up during the recession, says Stephen Gibson, partner at Restaurant Management Recruiters in Atlanta. Many of those laid off took a step back to managing a single restaurant rather than the group of restaurants they oversaw as a regional chef.
If you’ve hung onto a regional chef position, a switch to a corporate chef job where you set the menu, purchase food across the system, and train senior leadership and chefs on new menu items is more secure -- and your salary could rise to $175,000 with bonuses, Gibson says.
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Hotel Manager: $112,400
Hotel chains gravitate to candidates who have done it all: catering, front desk, housekeeping and management. Back that experience with a bachelor’s degree and an operational bent to increase your appeal to hospitality employers, says David James, an executive recruiter at Internal Audit Recruiters in Corona, California.
Avoid moving to a lower position as you rotate. “If someone who was a general manager steps down to become restaurant supervisor, that’s the kiss of death,” James says.
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Regional Restaurant Manager: $95,800
Your salary as a regional restaurant manager -- who floats among a group of restaurant locations, hiring and coaching staff to improve profitability -- depends on the status of the chain.
A fast-food chain would pay a base of $75,000 to $85,000 and an upscale chain would pay $150,000, and midlevel jobs at both are plentiful, Gibson says.
Jobs are more plentiful for managers of individual restaurants and for entry-level regional positions (where you manage a group of restaurants) than for vice president and higher-level positions, he says. “There’s still movement in the higher positions, but not as much as there was before the recession,” he adds.
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Head of Housekeeping: $77,000
“What’s more important at a hotel than a clean room?” asks Barnes. “It’s difficult work and requires a tremendous leader to manage that department.”
At the budget end of the market, hospitality jobs still haven’t recovered from the recession. “There are more people on the street vying for jobs from housekeeping to hotel manager,” James says. “There are a finite number of opportunities and an abundance of candidates.”
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Executive Pastry Chef: $60,200
A pastry chef overseeing two or three cooks who produce the cakes, bread and pastries for a restaurant has a niche job within a hospitality job niche. Executive pastry chefs who develop dessert menus for a restaurant chain pull down the highest salaries. Pastry chefs in hotels may earn less. “I’ve seen hotel pastry chefs in the $40,000 to $55,000 range,” Gibson says.
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On the surface, a sommelier’s job is to share his wine knowledge with diners at high-end restaurants, but his real job is to sell wines. “They talk about what wines pair well with the entrees people are ordering and do their best to upsell wines,” Gibson says. Sommeliers are typically paid a base of $40,000 to $50,000, plus commissions based on the restaurant’s wine revenues.
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