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Why Work in Hospitality?

According to a recent study from, just 5% of school leavers are considering a career in the hospitality industry, with 44% of respondents citing lack of career progression for their reasoning. Ouch! That one hurt. The hospitality industry is a HUGE player in the economy, usually pulling in around £140 billion a year, and is the third largest private sector employer in the UK.

In March 2020, before going the supermarket was akin to a night out, and lockdowns were from far-fetched disaster films, the hospitality sector represented 7.1% of the total UK workforce, and was responsible for 2.53 million jobs. During this time, the importance of the hospitality sector not only to the economy but to our culture, and daily lives became more and more apparent; we may not be miracle workers like our wonderful NHS but what we do is help to make life that little brighter!

The industry was almost annihilated during lockdown with hospitality staff accounting for an incredible 18% of all furloughed jobs. So colossal was the sheer number of hospitality staff that felt forced into other sectors, that once restrictions were finally lifted, the industry was desperately understaffed. However, between November 2021 and January 2022, job vacancies within the sector had increased by almost 700%, and the industry was firmly back on track.

What is Hospitality?

The hospitality industry covers an array of different subsectors including Food & Drink, Travel & Tourism, and Events & Recreation. Basically anything that provides a service to customers, usually an experience that they enjoy. Going to a concert? Hospitality. Going for lunch with friends? Hospitality. Going to grab a coffee before work? That’s hospitality too!

The job possibilities are almost endless, and it’s a fun yet challenging career, so why do so few young people want a career in hospitality? In the study, alongside the perception of lack of career progression, other issues listed were 55% viewing hospitality as “just a temporary job”, and 37% listing low pay.

In 2019, the 16-24 age bracket accounted for the largest proportion of workers within hospitality, and younger workers who arrive to any sector with little to no experience and are unable to work full time are almost always going to be earning a lower wage than someone with years of experience. This doesn’t mean, however, that progression in seniority, and pay isn’t achievable; it takes time to perfect your craft, and this is the same in any industry.

The length of time that you stay in a job is totally dependent on your needs and wants, hospitality can be a temporary fix to earn some money in-between studies, like any industry, but the industry is strong, and profitable enough to offer long career prospects for those who want them.

Hospitality Career Paths

Before we get into the typical career paths of hospitality sector roles, it’s important to know that each career path doesn’t always take a straight route; many skills that we learn throughout our jobs and studies are transferable, allowing you to combine what you’re good at with what you love.

Perhaps you train to be a Head Chef but end up working in a food brand creating a new product for supermarkets across the globe, or, you’re a Hotel Manager but decide you want some more responsibility, and become an Area Manager responsible for the success of several hotels within one region.

Chef cooks in kitchen with flaming frying pan

Food & Drink Career Path Example: Head Chef 

To get to the top of the culinary career ladder, and reach the role of Head Chef, you’ll likely start your career as a Kitchen Porter (you can find Kitchen Porter jobs on our job portal). This is a hands-on role heavily involved in the operations side of the kitchen, including:

  • Helping to unload and store deliveries
  • Maintaining food storage areas
  • Cleaning utensils and cooking equipment
  • Supporting the wider kitchen team

This is a great starting role to truly understand the ins and outs of the kitchen. Following this, you can progress onto roles such as a Commis Chef, Chef de Partie, Sous Chef, and then Head Chef. Once you’ve reached the top of the career ladder, and you’re officially a Head Chef, you’ll be earning on average £34,322 each year. Of course, like in any industry, this can increase or decrease based on location or company but this is £2,861 more than the UK national average wage of £31,772.

A Head Chef is a prestigious role that takes years of perfecting culinary skill, and management capabilities to achieve. Head Chefs are responsible for ordering food, creating seasonal menus, hiring and managing staff, and ensuring everything within the kitchen adheres to regulatory standards. The hours are long, and it’s the environment can often feel like a pressure cooker (no pun intended) but it tends to be a career chosen by those with a real passion for cooking, so what’s a little pressure when you work a job that you love?!

Marco Pierre White’s Story

Arguably one of the most famous Chefs in the world, Marco Pierre White started his career interning in a local hotel kitchen before relocating to London to work as a Commis Chef under the iconic French Chefs, Albert & Michel Roux.

Over the next six years, he continued to train, and master his skills as he worked in the kitchens of world-renowned Chefs, before opening his first restaurant in 1987. By the age of 28, he became the youngest Chef to be awarded two Michelin stars, and is noted as being the UK’s first celebrity Chef. Following a successful career in the kitchen, Marco Pierre White hung up his apron in 1999, and began creating his own restaurant empire amassing a personal net worth of $40 million.

Hotel management team

Travel & Tourism Career Path Example: Hotel Manager

If you’re looking for an industry with extensive job roles, and clear career progression, then the hotel industry should be at the top of your hit list. It’s a career path that can take you all over the world, provide you with fantastic opportunities to soak up international culture, and meet new people on a daily basis.

To become a Hotel Manager, start in a role that exposes you to the real day-to-day running of a hotel, and builds up key skills such as leadership, organisation, problem solving, and customer service. Starting in a front of house role will give you a great chance to truly understand the hotel industry’s number one focus: its customers. Look for roles in reception or concierge, some hotels may even offer assistant roles within the operations department, a clear route to a Hotel Manager position. In many businesses, once you’re in, it’s much easier to transfer to different departments, and work in roles that you may have struggled to be interviewed for.

Here at Arc, we work with many hotels providing both front of house, and back of house staff to support the hotel’s full-time workforce. You can apply to join the Arc team, and gain experience working in a range of hotels and roles.

The job description and salary of a Hotel Manager can vary due to a number of factors including whether it’s independently owned, part of a chain, and even its location. For example, according to Indeed, the average Hotel Manager salary in Blackpool is £25,665 but it rises to £36,961 in London. In a small, family-run business, Hotel Managers are more likely to be able to make their mark on the brand, strategy, and overall customer experience. However, they are also more likely to have to roll their sleeves up, and get involved in tasks that are certainly not part of their job description.

Some of the key tasks that a Hotel Manager would be responsible for are:

  • Hiring, training, and managing staff
  • Financial planning
  • Overseeing daily operations
  • Setting and monitoring departmental key performance indicators

César Ritz’s Story

César Ritz was the founder of the iconic hotel chain that is now known as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, one of the world’s most luxurious hotel chains with over 108 hotels across 30 countries. Raised in an extremely poor family, Ritz began his career in hospitality at just 15 years old working as a wine waiter in a local hotel in Brig, Switzerland; although, it wasn’t the most successful start, and he was fired for not having a “special knack, a special flair”.

Ritz moved to Paris during the Franco-Prussian war, and reignited his hospitality career by working as a Waiter before progressing to Restaurant Manager at one of the city’s finest restaurants. It was just four years after starting as a Waiter that Ritz undertook his first hotel management position at the Grand Hotel in Nice, and after several years of working in various hotels, Ritz had perfected the art of providing luxury hotel stays for wealthy customers.

A move to London to manage The Savoy, a newly opened hotel which became an overnight success, and under the leadership of Ritz, became the go-to destination for royalty from across the world. After leaving The Savoy, Ritz partnered with the world’s richest man, Alfred Beit, to open Hôtel Ritz in Paris, and the rest, as they say, is history. It took Ritz around two decades to progress from Waiter to Owner of one of the world’s most luxurious hotels.

The man who was once fired for not having the knack for customer service became known as the “King of Hoteliers, and Hotelier to Kings”.

Music festival with people holding their hands in the air

Events & Recreation Career Path Example: Events Manager

In the UK, the events industry is worth an incredible £42.3 billion, and is responsible for the creation of 570,000 jobs. Events can range from professional conferences with delegates speaking to hundreds of industry professionals to music festivals hosting global superstars performing to thousands of fans. It’s a highly rewarding but an intense job that requires exceptional organisational skills, and outstanding problem solving abilities.

An incredibly competitive industry, it’s essential to stand out with great work experience, and any exposure that you can get working at an event is advantageous; never underestimate the power of starting at the bottom of the ladder and working your way up, experience is worth its weight in gold. At Arc, we provide staff to work at some of the most exciting events in the world from sporting heavyweights such as The Open and Wimbledon The Championships to music festivals and concerts with headline artists like Ed Sheeran and The Killers. Apply to join Arc and start your journey to your future career.

As an Events Manager, you can expect to be on an average salary of £31,933 per year, and can expect to perform tasks such as:

  • Planning events from proposal to delivery
  • Creating detailed risk assessments and organising health and safety controls
  • Assign people to job roles and ensure training is provided
  • Prepare budgets and manage timelines with suppliers and staff

Michael Eavis’ Story

If the name doesn’t ring a bell then his business may do…Eavis is co-founder of Glastonbury, arguably the most iconic music festival in the world; a global phenomenon which has gained a cult following over six decades. However, Eavis didn’t start his career in events but in his father’s dairy farm in Somerset.

A trip to see Led Zeppelin at the Bath Festival of Blues in 1969 sparked a dream and Eavis hosted a festival on his farm the following year called the Pilton Pop, Folk and Blues Festival; tickets were just £1 and guests were gifted a free bottle of milk. In 1981, the festival really started to take off, and cemented its connections with the hippie crowd by partnering with Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in a move to promote peace.

Since then, Glastonbury has grown into an incredible festival which spans across a 900 acre site, and welcomes around 135,000 guests over the five day event. With incredible innovation, and staying true to his roots, Eavis has reportedly managed to amass a personal net worth of $18 million even though the majority of the festival’s profits are donated to charities.

So, Do You Want to Work in Hospitality?

We hope that by putting our investigative hats on, and delving deep into the world of hospitality careers, we have shown that there are incredible opportunities for those looking to pursue a career in the industry.

Hospitality, like any industry, has its fair share of pros and cons but if you want it, a successful career path is there for the taking. If you have drive, ambition, and passion, then you will succeed in any sector.


Information is correct as of June 2022.