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Owens: Starting in tourism earns you more money

A dear friend of mine in the medical field always knew he wanted to practice medicine. His first job was in hospitality. Then, all through college and medical school, he worked in restaurants.

In those hospitality jobs, he learned customer service, hard-work, working with a team, and doing what it takes to get the job done.

Now that he’s in medicine, he relates better with his patients, he has more empathy, and he works harder because of the lessons he learned in hospitality.

His story is not unique. So many people got their start working in hospitality and tourism. So, when I see a study that shows how starting in hospitality also makes you more money, I want to shout it from the rooftops.

Recently, a report was released by the U.S. Travel Association called, “Travel: America’s Unsung Hero of Job Creation.” (LINK: https://www.ustravel.org/system/files/media_root/document/Research_Reports_Travel-America%27s-Unsung-Hero-of-Job-Creation.pdf)

In the report, the organization culled statistical information about jobs in hospitality. They discovered many interesting facts, but one that I wanted to celebrate here is the increased earnings of those who, like my friend, started their careers in hospitality.

From the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Longitudinal Surveys, the researchers looked at the working lifespan of baby boomers and found that people who started their career working in hospitality and tourism made more money than those who began careers in nearly all other industries — regardless of education or their final, chosen career.

They also found that those people who started in hospitality made more — an average career salary of $81,900.

Additionally, the report showed that tourism and hospitality offers better career starts for women, minorities, and those who have less education.

For women and African Americans, if their first job was in hospitality, they average 6 percent higher salaries than those who started in another industry. For Hispanics, the increase for those who started in hospitality is 8 percent higher than those who started in other industries.

Even for those with a high school degree or less, if a person started in tourism, they earn 5 percent more than those who began working in another field.

Beyond the tangible rewards, working with people on the front lines is training on how to deal with people, how to solve problems, and how to manage several tasks at the same time…with a smile. The tourism community in Savannah provides people with plenty of opportunities for professional skills.

Whether you’re starting in tourism, using it as a stepping stone, or finding a life-long career in hospitality, the benefits of working in tourism last a lifetime.

Michael Owens is president/CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council, which supports and represents the tourism community. Contact Owens at michael@tourismleadershipcouncil.com or by calling 912-232-1223.

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