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If there's one rule of thumb that should apply to the work force, it's this: Pleasant jobs call for pleasant people. And as of late, one industry needs friendly folks more than ever.
Pleasant people familiar with fine living can earn a good salary.
The hospitality industry, including but not limited to hotels, restaurants and meeting venues, is growing exponentially. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12.4 million people work in the hospitality industry today, making about 8.6 percent of all employment.
The hospitality industry is predicted to grow 17 percent between 2004 and 2014, adding more than 2.2 million new jobs to the work force.
"When economic times are good, there is a lot of money out there, which can be devoted to travel. People are more informed about things like wine or travel destinations than they were 20 years ago," says Jeffrey Catrett, dean of Kendall College's Les Roches School of Hospitality Management. "That has developed a much larger hospitality leisure market."
Some people shy away from the hospitality industry for reasons such as long hours for little pay, often unaware of benefits including opportunities for advancement and six-figure incomes.
"The hospitality industry is a vibrant and glamorous field. A career in hospitality opens up opportunities to earn a very good living with six-figure incomes, almost all-expenses-paid and it offers a more dynamic work environment than most professions," Catrett says.
"If you consider the level of accommodation that companies provide for top managers, or even the day-to-day perks that hotel and restaurant managers get for free, you find that the salaries are very competitive with other industries."
If you're looking for a job in an industry with continued job growth, here are 10 jobs to try your hand at:
1. Hotel general manager
Responsibilities: Directs everything involved in the operation and financial result of the property; creates standards for personnel administration and performance, service to patrons, room rates, advertising, publicity and food selection.
Training: A combination of more than two years of directly-related training and/or experience.
U.S. average salary: $149,456
2. Hotel clerk
Responsibilities: Performs an assortment of services for hotel guests, such as guest check-in and check-out, assigning rooms and answering inquiries to hotel services.
Training: A combination of three to six months of directly-related training and/or experience.
U.S. National average salary: $19,710
Responsibilities: Escorts incoming hotel guests to rooms; assists with luggage; offers information about available services and facilities of hotel and entertainment attractions; inspects guest's room to make sure things are satisfactory.
Training: Short-term on-the-job training.
U.S. average salary: $15,995
4. Meeting and convention planner
Responsibilities: Plans meetings and special events of various sizes. Coordinates such logistics as budgets, speakers, entertainment, transportation, facilities, technology, equipment, logistical requirements, printing, food and beverage, and other related issues.
Training: A combination of six to 12 months of directly-related training and/or experience.
U.S. average salary: $60,245
Responsibilities: Assists guests with everything from making restaurant reservations to acquiring tickets to special events to helping with travel arrangements and tours of interesting places to visit.
Training: Short-term on-the-job training.
U.S. average salary: $16,262
6. Maitre d'
Responsibilities: Also known as the head waiter, the maitre d' assigns customers to tables; makes advance reservations; oversees all aspects of the dining room experience for patrons; makes sure all waiters are doing their jobs effectively.
Training: Most start out as food and beverage servers and work their way up to the position. College courses in hotel and restaurant management or business administration are also a definite asset.
U.S. average salary: $28,000 - $45,000, depending on establishment.
7. Executive chef
Responsibilities: Oversees all kitchen activity, such as menu creation and staff management; utilizes food surpluses and leftovers; tracks popularity of various dishes; estimates customer food consumption; tests cooked foods by tasting and smelling them; creates special dishes and recipes.
Training: A combination of more than four years of directly-related training and/or experience.
U.S. average salary: $46,206
8. Reservation ticket agent
Responsibilities: Answers phone or e-mail inquiries; offers suggestions and information about travel arrangements, such as schedules, rates and types of accommodation; quotes fares and room rates; makes and confirms transportation and hotel reservations.
Training: A high school diploma or its equivalent is the most common educational requirement, but some employers prefer applicants who have completed college coursework in management or business.
U.S. average salary: $27,750
9. Maids and housekeeping cleaner
Responsibilities: Such light cleaning duties as making beds, replenishing linens, cleaning rooms and halls, vacuuming, emptying wastebaskets and restocking bathroom supplies.
Training: No previous work-related skill, knowledge or experience is needed; short-term on-the-job training.
U.S. average salary: $20,124
10. Gaming dealer
Responsibilities: Operates table games such as craps, blackjack and roulette; provides dice and dispenses cards to players; determines winners, calculates and pays winning bets, and collects losing bets.
Training: Most employers prefer at least a high school diploma or GED. Each casino establishes its own requirements for education, training and experience. Many institutions give training toward certificates in gaming, as well as offering an associate, bachelor's or master's degree in a hospitality-related field.
U.S. average salary: $14,340 E-mail to a friend
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Salary information obtained from CBSalary.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.