A degree in hospitality and tourism is a versatile learning opportunity that combines academic curriculum with practical experience. Upon graduation, you might find yourself managing an exotic resort, planning large corporate conferences or organizing major sporting events. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated the annual median salary for a hotel manager was $46,880, with an 8 percent growth rate through 2020. Degree programs include a mixture of business courses and subject classes specific to hospitality and tourism.
An understanding of basic business principles is essential in hospitality and tourism. Managing a hotel or leading a food service company requires protecting the financial health of the organization. Classes in accounting and organizational behavior will provide some of these necessary fundamentals. You can also expect to take courses such as business statistics, macroeconomics, marketing and finance. Some programs will include these courses as a prerequisite and others weave them into the total plan of study.
Majoring in hospitality and tourism will give you a broad range of skill sets. Expect to take classes in hotel management, tourism and human resource management. You will also become proficient in running a food service operation. Finally, completing courses in event management will provide an understanding of the organizational aspects of event management. For example, if you want to be a concert promoter, you will learn about liability aspects of crowd control and security needs for famous performers. Program curriculum will apply to a wide variety of event needs and programmatic variables.
Taking electives will allow you to develop an area of expertise. Consider what aspect of hospitality and tourism is best aligned with your interests and work with your adviser to decide the courses that will establish a specialization. For example, if you want to be a professional meeting planner, take extra courses focusing on meeting management so you are credentialed to organize and manage corporate conferences and large-scale meetings. This will give you an edge when you are applying for jobs. You will also be equipped to work independently as a private consultant.
The combination of classroom learning and practical experience is critical in a hospitality and tourism major. You will have several internships and practicums during your coursework to practice your learning. For example, you may be placed in a catering office to learn the ins and outs of working with clients on wedding planning and banquet organization. Learning from practicing professionals will allow you to apply classroom learning to actual programs and events. You may also be able to secure a summer job or professional employment based upon your work as an intern.
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