What Education Is Needed to Become a Hotel Manager?

Hotel managers oversee all aspects of the hotel, from the reception desk to the rooms.
Hotel managers oversee all aspects of the hotel, from the reception desk to the rooms. (Image: Reception bell image by Sergii Shalimov from Fotolia.com)

Hotel managers supervise administrative tasks in a hotel as well as interact with guests, work to promote the hotel or hotel brand, and generally make sure everything runs smoothly. They must possess meticulous attention to detail, outstanding interpersonal skills and an excellent business sense. The path to becoming a hotel manager can be long and challenging. Management positions normally require individuals to have advanced formal education and several years experience in hospitality.

Undergraduate Degrees

Most hotel management positions require at least a bachelor or associate’s degree in hotel administration, hospitality, or restaurant management. These programs teach the fundamental strategies, skills and principals related to the hospitality industry. Students may take courses in marketing, business math, sanitation and safety, interior design and public relations. Bachelor’s degrees typically take four years to complete, whereas associate’s degrees take two or three. While pursuing these degrees many students gain practical experience interning in real hotels.

Advanced Degrees

Individuals who desire senior hotel management positions may pursue an advanced degree such as a master’s in hospitality. Students pursuing this degree study advanced concepts in hotel management and take courses in areas such as human resource management, accounting, business law, facilities design, communications and marketing. Master’s programs often emphasize entrepreneurship and provide hotel managers with the skills they need to start their own hotels or hotel chains. These programs typically take two years to complete and may culminate in an extensive research project.


On-the-job experience is extremely important for those seeking hotel manager positions. In fact many employers place greater importance on hospitality experience rather than formal education. There are many essential skills in the industry that can only be learned on the job. According to Education-Portal.com, most employers of mid-range hotels require hotel managers to have at least three years of experience working in the business. Luxury business hotels, on the other hand, may require five years or more.


Many hotels require managers to hold a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) certificate from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. To obtain this certificate individuals must pass the CHA examination and fulfill the necessary education and experience requirements. Criteria for CHA certification may be different depending on your level of education. Hotel managers must become recertified every five years.

Continuing Education

Hotel managers are expected to stay up-to-date on all aspects of the hospitality industry and may be required to take continuing education courses in areas like culinary arts, hotel administration technology and marketing. Those who wish to advance in the industry to become regional or national managers for example, must keep up with trends and developments in the industry.

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