Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s topic: do you need a degree to work in hospitality management positions?  

As more people become vaccinated and get comfortable returning to public spaces, restaurants and hotels are kicking hiring efforts into high gear to account for the increase in business. Managerin particular are in demand, making it a great landscape for candidates interested in leadership positions. But as a manager, what kind of experience or background do you need to be successful?  

Do you need a degree to work in hospitality management?

When talking about what type of background hospitality leaders need to have, we often hear candidates ask if they need a degree to work in hospitality management positions. Degrees like Hospitality Management or Culinary Arts can certainly give candidates the upper hand in some instances, and will provide you with great information and skills that can be used on the job; but for many hospitality venues, these degrees aren’t a requirement. That said, it’s never a disadvantage to have additional training or knowledge in the field you want to have a career in. But don’t let a lack of a degree to work in hospitality management or formal education prevent you from reaching your career goals.  

Because a degree isn’t necessary to work in a management position, hiring managers will be looking for a few key elements when interviewing management candidates, which may include:  

The right combination of hard and soft skills 

Hard and soft skills are a common topic in hiring discussions, but as a reminder, hard skills are related to specific technical knowledge and training while soft skills are personality traits such as leadership, communication or time management” (via Indeed). Hard and soft skills are equally as important as the other. In lieu of a degree, having appropriate experience will be necessary so you can have a good understanding of the industry and how it works.  

For prospective employers, striking the right balance between your technical expertise and valuable personality traits will be why they choose you over the competition. When and how to display these skills are important. Use your resume as a hard skills showcase, and the interview portion to let your soft skills shine.  

Relevant certifications or courses 

Most, if not all hospitality professionals are required at one point to get industry-related certifications such as the ServSafe Food Handlers certificate or an alcohol serving certificate. These short online courses show your colleagues that you understand various aspects of the industry, like handling alcohol or maintaining a safe environment to store food. If you’re interested in any type of job in the hospitality industry, we suggest getting certified before the hiring process – this will show employers that you’re knowledgeable and committed to the job.  

How you fit in with the team 

As a prospective manager, how you fit in with the current team is an indicator of whether you’ll be successful or not. You may be someone with the perfect experience and ideal soft skills, but if you don’t vibe well with the culture, you’re probably not the right fit for the job. Because restaurants and hotels famously have high turnover, hiring managers will want candidates who they believe are in it for the long run – which is why fitting in with the team is crucial.  

From the above, we can understand that while employers won’t be looking for people to have a degree to work in hospitality management, they’ll be specific in what they need from candidate to ensure they hire the right person. By displaying your hard and soft skills, receiving relevant certifications, and finding an environment where you fit in, you’ll find a hospitality management position that fulfills your goals.  


If you’re looking for a restaurant manager job, contact LGC. Our executive recruiters can connect you with great opportunities in the foodservice and hospitality industries.