How much will I earn in a career in hospitality and travel?

How much will I earn in hospitality and travel?
Find out how much you’re likely to be paid in jobs such as hotel manager or travel agent, and check the salaries offered for hospitality and travel graduate schemes.

Your salary for a job in hospitality and travel will depend on your employer and your role. If you are working as a waiter, behind a bar or in a fast-food restaurant, your pay may be close to the national minimum wage. If you progress to a supervisory or management role, however, or join a graduate training scheme, your salary will be significantly higher. Wages vary significantly depending on the role and the employer.

What could you earn in hotel and restaurant management?

You’re unlikely to land a hotel manager job as a school leaver with no experience, but you may be able to work your way up from another role within the hotel business, such as guest support or housekeeping. Alternatively, you could develop the skills required through an apprenticeship or employer training programme, or by studying for a foundation degree, HND or degree.

According to the National Careers Service, hotel managers typically earn from £20,000 to £35,000 a year at the beginning of their careers, while experienced hotel managers earn from £40,000 to £50,000. Highly experienced hotel managers can earn £60,000 or more.

You’ll need to gain experience, qualifications or both to be considered for restaurant management roles. Restaurant managers typically earn £18,000–£35,000 in casual restaurants and £20,000–£40,000 in fine dining restaurants, with experienced managers in top restaurants earning £60,000 or more. You can apply for assistant or deputy manager roles with Mitchells & Butlers with six months’ experience, and could earn up to £30,000 depending on location.

What about travel agents? The starting salary is usually around £13,000, according to the National Careers Service, but with experience this could increase to around £25,000, and in senior roles it could be £35,000 or more. You may also earn commission based on meeting sales targets.

General retail experience could help you land a travel agent role, so having worked in a shop or a supermarket, for example, could count in your favour. Some employers prefer candidates who are educated to degree level.

What do graduates who studied hospitality and tourism earn?

Thinking about going to university to study hospitality, leisure, tourism or transport? A study by the Higher Education Statistics Agency found that students of business and administrative degrees, an area that includes these subjects, who graduated in 2015 were earning, on average, around £20,000 six months later. Our advice on the study-based route to a career in hospitality and travel gives more details about what graduates of these subjects went on to do.

What can you earn on hospitality graduate schemes?

Here are some examples of the graduate starting pay on offer from big companies that run pubs or restaurants:

  • Trainee managers at McDonald’s earn between £21,000 and £24,500.
  • Mitchells & Butlers (owners of All Bar One, O’Neill’s and Harvester) runs a range of graduate programmes. The basic starting salary on the retail scheme is £20,000.

The starting pay on offer for hotel management graduate schemes is broadly similar:

  • 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 has offered similar pay in the past, at around £18,000–£20,000.

What can you earn on travel graduate schemes?

Flight Centre typically pays travel consultants a basic salary of around £20,000, while business development managers earn a basic starting salary of £25,000 or more.

TUI Travel runs an international graduate leadership programme with a yearly salary that has been around £26,000 in the past, plus expenses for living abroad.

British Airways offers a starting salary of between £27,500 and £32,000 for its graduate schemes, depending on which option you apply for.

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