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Path to Becoming a Hotel General Manager

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A hotel general manager oversees the entire operation of a hotel or lodging facility, including supervision of employees and providing direction on daily operations. Pay varies significantly by the size of the hotel and job duties, but median 2010 annual pay was $46,880, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


In very small hotels with modest requirements, someone may have a chance at becoming a manager with only a high school diploma and significant work experience. However, a bachelor's degree in hospitality or a related field is the standard requirement in larger chains, according to the bureau. A hotel and restaurant management certificate or associate's degree may suffice for some mid-size to large hotels or chains.

Work Experience

Hotels typically promote from within. Thus, part of the path to becoming a general manager is to start off as a front desk manager, work in customer relations, become an assistant manager or gain experience in some other facet of the hotel operation. Proving you have the skills and abilities to lead employees and oversee multiple aspects of the hotel's operation is commonly expected to gain a promotion to general manager.

Internal Training Program

Many hotel chains also have a required internal training program, whether a candidate has a degree or not. This is a process that may take several weeks or months. The purpose is to give a general management candidate experience in all areas of the hotel so that he understand the role of each functional role and employee. This is important so that when you become a general manager, you understand the philosophies of the hotel and how each function interacts with the others.

Skill Development

While you might have a desire to simply follow a step-by-step path and get a guaranteed job, general managers either need to possess or develop several key skills for promotion and success. Leadership, communication and interpersonal skills are necessary for the supervisory aspect of motivating a staff, building rapport and creating a fun, high-functioning environment. A strong customer orientation is critical to lead staff in ensuring positive guest experiences. Managers must also be highly organized and good problem solvers to deal with facility problems and to address irregular challenges.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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