Growing more rapidly than bio-medical, health care and IT is Boston's hospitality industry. Although health care offers employment opportunities at all levels and bio-medical, medicine and IT are the hottest fields, many Bostonians draw paychecks from the hotels, bars, and restaurants that employ them. Drive or walk through Boston and you will see no shortage of skyscraper hotels, cozy bed and breakfasts, lavish restaurants, coffee shops, small eateries, traditional and trendy pubs, and friendly neighborhood dives. As part of its effort to compete as a world class city, Boston is positioning itself in hospitality and tourism.
No matter where one goes, the hospitality industry itself has a unique fluidity where different job skills intersect. Even if one is employed in accounting or technical support, a personable disposition and ability to interact with the public are key attributes for success. But in Boston and many major American cities, workers within the industry tend to be low wage earners, many employed in food and housekeeping/janitorial services. And not every food service worker, attendant, and hotel housekeeper is a union member. Although some may be aspiring entertainers, artists or college students, most are simply ordinary people who depend on modest earnings to support themselves and their families.
But demographically the hospitality industry, next to retail and health care, is noticeably democratic. While a college degree, culinary skills or experience in hotel/restaurant management helps, one does not need any particular educational level or training to work in general hotel or dining services. Your food server, bartender or door attendant might have an MBA or a GED. Also, the hospitality industry has absorbed displaced workers in challenging times. For example, during the dot-com collapse, six-figure IT pros and executives found themselves waiting on tables and retraining as bartenders. Even celebrities have turned to the hospitality industry for jobs and added financial security at stardom and post stardom.
Yet, to assume the hospitality industry is largely dead end and a vocational choice of last resort is presumptuous. The industry has its own career paths for the very motivated. With planning, saving and extra training, one can aspire to sous chef, head chef, restaurant/hotel manager, sommelier (wine expert), business proprietor, or salaried and executive positions in finance and customer service.