There are more than 55,900 hotels in the United States, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Approximately 265,400 hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks are employed in the United States. Because hotels and motels are found worldwide, job opportunities for desk clerks are plentiful. The amount of responsibility given to a desk clerk depends on the size and type of lodging establishment. Larger hotels (usually located in busy urban areas), such as The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel in New York, may have separate departments, each responsible for answering phones, making advance reservations, or processing guest arrivals. The pace of work may be more frenzied at times because of the high guest count.
Many jobs are posted on industry-related Web sites and in online employment services, trade magazines, or hotel employee newsletters. HotelCareer.com is a Web site where you can create a profile and search for jobs throughout the world. High school counselors can help interested students research this field and find useful resources. They may even post part-time or seasonal work available in the field.
Hiring requirements vary from employer to employer, but most hotels look for candidates with work experience as well as education. Many desk clerks have a high school diploma or the equivalent; but those ambitious enough to pursue the management track should consider obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree in hotel management or a similar program. When applying for a job, experience in the hotel industry is a definite plus, though experience in the restaurant trade, customer service, or retail is equally valuable.
Desk clerks and reservation clerks are entry-level positions. Promotions within the front office could lead to jobs as front desk supervisor or front office manager. Further advancement may be to the position of assistant hotel manager. It is also possible to move to other departments within the hotel, such as banquets or the sales department. Job promotions, especially to the management level, will be easier to obtain with further education.
During high school, look for a part-time job or summer work at a nearby hotel or motel. Data entry work is also helpful in building computer skills.
Talk to your career counselor about job opportunities in the hotel business.
Visit a local hotel or bed and breakfast to observe the check-in process. If possible, set up an appointment with a manager for an information interview.