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What salary can I expect from a graduate hospitality job?

The hospitality sector is very varied, so what's the range of graduate salaries on offer?

Graduate salaries across the industry vary depending upon role and employer.

Graduate management starting salaries at specific restaurants or pubs are generally in the region of £19,000 to £25,000. Graduates can enter the industry from a variety of degree backgrounds, depending on the area they go into. Relevant work experience will help you apply successfully for roles that include some management responsibilities or relevant training.

As a result of lockdowns and financial difficulties faced by this sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you may well find it difficult to gain a position in hospitality at the moment. However, as our advice for filling a coronavirus-shaped gap on your CV emphasises, recruiters won’t look unfavourably on your applications in future as a result of this. You may also want to take a look at our tips for job hunting during a pandemic.

A graduate restaurant/pub manager’s starting salary

At McDonald’s, a trainee manager of a restaurant will earn between £22,000 and £25,000. On completing the programme, there are plenty of opportunities for further progression.Other restaurant chains have been known to offer similar starting salaries.

Mitchells & Butlers (owners of All Bar One, O’Neill’s and Harvester, to name but a few) also run graduate programmes. These are not restricted to the management of a pub, but also include head office functions such as marketing or finance. The starting salary for the retail stream on the Mitchells & Butlers graduate scheme is £24,000.

Hotel manager salaries

Once again, a number of different entry routes are open to graduates. You could work as a manager for a particular part of a hotel, such as reception or a restaurant, or as a general manager overseeing all aspects of the venue.

The InterContinental Hotel Group graduate programme has previously paid graduates a starting salary of between around £21,000 and £23,000. The graduate management trainee scheme at Firmdale Hotels is typically similarly salaried.

Graduates without a relevant degree or sufficient experience may want to consider taking a job as a trainee manager and working up to general manager. Salaries for trainee managers can be lower, but have good promotional prospects.

There are good progression opportunities in hospitality, such as working your way up to more senior roles at bigger and/or more high-end establishments. For instance, it may take five or more years of training – and probably several relocations – to become a hotel manager or general manager, but the rewards can be significant: hotel general managers earn £35,000-£45,000 on average, and you could earn between £50,000 and £200,000 as the general manager of a particularly large and prestigious hotel.

Will a qualification in hospitality management improve my salary?

Many employers respect the value of a hospitality qualification when it comes to differentiating between applicants, and some look for graduates who have either a relevant qualification or relevant work experience such as an internship or part-time job. However, applying with a hospitality-related degree is unlikely to significantly increase your salary over that of other applicants at entry-level.

One of the main career benefits of a hospitality degree is that it lends itself to a number of different careers, ranging from conference centre management to event planning. You could consider a broad selection of employers. Most positions vary in salary according to employer and your experience – if your hospitality degree included a year in industry you’ll be ahead of the competition.

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