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Hospitality, leisure and travel
Get a job in hospitality, leisure and tourism

How do I get a job in hospitality, leisure and tourism?

Discover everything you need to know to start a graduate career in hospitality, leisure and tourism, from how to find work experience to the salary you could earn in a graduate role.

The hospitality, leisure and tourism industry has a great deal to offer graduates both in the UK and abroad, and it’s still growing. The industry covers areas ranging from accommodation and food services to health and fitness, entertainment, and bars, clubs and pubs. Whatever area you choose, there are plenty of jobs to choose from and management opportunities galore.

How can I get a graduate job in hospitality, leisure and tourism?

There are many routes into careers in hospitality and you don’t always need qualifications to start. You might start with on-the-job training, undertaking a graduate scheme or taking a postgraduate qualification to boost your career opportunities. Small employers tend to have less formal schemes but you might have more opportunities for early responsibility.

Employers accept a variety of applications. Some prefer application forms, whether paper or online, because they are guaranteed to include all the information they need to assess your application. Others like to receive a CV and covering letter, because this lets your personality shine through better.

Each organisation has its own recruitment process ranging from a single interview to a complex series of interviews and assessments if you’re applying for a graduate scheme. Prepare for interviews by researching the organisation and the role, and do your best to impress on the day. You can also practise for psychometric tests.

What skills and qualifications do I need?

You don’t necessarily need a degree, but gaining a relevant qualification in hospitality, leisure and tourism will prove your commitment to recruiters and might enable you to start off on a higher rung of the career ladder. Qualifications range from foundation degrees and national diplomas to undergraduate and masters degrees. Alternatively, a modern apprenticeship offers on-the-job training towards a vocational qualification. It is also possible to gain chartered status through the relevant professional bodies.

Employers in hospitality, leisure and tourism will also be looking for an array of ‘soft’ skills, including:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility
  • Commitment to the industry
  • Commercial awareness
  • Enthusiasm

What are the different areas of work?

The hospitality business is a worldwide industry, with many different working environments. There’s enormous scope for travel – from working at a ski resort in Canada to cruising in the Caribbean. When you’re starting to look for a job, it helps to know what the possibilities are – you just need to decide what appeals to you. Here are some of the career paths you could choose:

What are the salaries like in hospitality, leisure and tourism?

Graduate starting salaries greatly vary in the hospitality industry but career progression is often rapid and can bring with it an increase in earnings. Pay is often determined by the type of establishment you work for: the general manager of a small, budget hotel might earn £20,000 a year, whereas at a large five-star hotel you could receive up to £90,000. A junior manager at a health club might be paid between £18,000 and £28,000, while a leisure club manager could earn up to £50,000, and restaurant managers can earn anything from £19,000 to £60,000 a year.

Do I need work experience?

Work experience is vital for getting a taste of the industry and helping you decide which area is best for you. It impresses employers and shows that you are committed to the sector. You can improve your career prospects by getting experience while still studying, either in the evenings, at weekends or during the holidays. Getting experience in any part of the business early on in your career provides an ideal grounding for your future. Whether you decide to go into management, set up your own business or take another path, mastering the basics can help you along the way.

What’s the competition for graduate programmes like?

There are plenty of opportunities at management and supervisory level, and currently not enough applicants to fill them all. However, graduate training schemes with large employers will always be competitive, so you’ll need to stand out from the crowd.

Interesting facts for careers in hospitality, leisure and tourism

  • The leisure industry accounts for the employment of around 2.5 million people in the UK, 10% of the working population.
  • The UK restaurant industry is worth over £40 billion with 614,000 people working in the industry.
  • The UK has more than 45,000 hotels and guest houses, 226,000 eating out outlets and 49,400 pubs.
  • The tourism industry generates around £130 billion per year for the UK and employs 2.7 million people.
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