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Hospitality, leisure and travel

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.

It’s important to bear in mind that hospitality management, in terms of running a venue, is very different from working in the hospitality industry under another function, such as human resources or finance departments. What’s more, graduate salaries across the industry vary considerably 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. Conversely, roles in the finance or HR functions of Whitbread plc (the owners of Premier Inn and Costa), for example, pay £22,000 to £26,000 depending on the precise nature of the role.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) 2012/2013 graduates with a hospitality, leisure, tourism or transport degree were earning between £15,095 and £19,545 six months later. Graduates can enter the industry from a variety of degree backgrounds, depending on the area they go into; while a hospitality degree might help you get into the industry at a higher level, starting salaries for non-hospitality graduates are not dramatically different.

A graduate restaurant/pub manager’s starting salary

At McDonald’s, a trainee manager of a restaurant will earn between £21,000 and £24,000. The role is structured with the intention that the graduate eventually becomes responsible for the running a single restaurant.

Other restaurant chains have been known to offer similar starting salaries – Nando’s has paid new hires £22,000 in previous intakes, with the potential for this to rise to £35,000 once their scheme has been completed.

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 £19,000–£24,000. In a similar vein, Fuller’s graduate management scheme has paid a salary of around £24,000 in the past.

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 paid graduates a starting salary of around £20,000 in London and around £18,000 at other locations. The graduate management trainee scheme at Firmdale Hotels is similarly remunerated, at around £18,000–£20,000.

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 are lower (from £14,000 to £18,000) but have good promotional prospects.

Will a qualification in hospitality management improve my salary?

Several of the employers mentioned in this article run graduate schemes that incorporate a professional qualification. As a result, applying with a hospitality-related degree is unlikely to significantly increase your salary over that of other applicants at entry-level. However, many employers do respect the value of a hospitality qualification when it comes to differentiating between applicants.

The real value of your 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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