Professional development is a process of earning and maintaining professional credentials such as academic degrees, continuing education, attending conferences, workshops, seminars, formal and informal learning or any opportunities that can contribute to your professional advancement.

Hospitality industry is about high standard of service. For hospitality leaders, awareness of the latest trend in the industry is very important in driving business forward. Many hospitality companies put effort in providing professional development to their employees through ongoing inhouse trainings, cross training, increased responsibilities and sourcing trainings from relevant training providers. However, it is also a fact that far too many hospitality employers failed to provide meaningful professional development to their employees. In some cases, even if professional development is available within your company it may not be applicable to you, or tailored for your career goals and advancement. If you feel you are no longer challenged to grow, and on your way to career stagnation, perhaps it is time to take charge of your own professional development.

Why professional development is important?

  • Professional development matters to companies and employers
  • You will gain current skills and knowledge
  • Competency in your profession
  • Awareness of changing trends and direction in the industry
  • Increase your employability
  • Become a better professional/employee


Hospitality Associations and Organizations are great places to start with your professional development. Aside from networking, you will gain current knowledge of the industry through seminars or webinars, conferences, training and continuing education programs. For students, newly graduate, non-management and middle management professionals; you can find great mentors by joining and engaging in hospitality associations and organizations.

Here is non-comprehensive list of organizations, education and training schools that provide professional development to hospitality professionals:

The Hotel School, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

Offers professional development program (PDP) for hospitality professionals. You can learn, gain skills and earn credentials from accredited and renowned institution. They offer online and classroom courses. You may have to pay for the courses but sometimes they offer free courses for learners.  

American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI)

Nonprofit member benefit of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. It provides professional certifications, hospitality education and training for hospitality professionals.    

Institute of Hospitality

Offers professional development courses, development workshops, webinars, graduate management program, mentoring and more. 

National Association for Catering and Events

Resource and community for catering and event professionals that promotes continued education. Offers Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE) certificate to those who established standard and excellence in hospitality.


An online library of professional development training classes for hospitality professionals. It’s a service offered by The International School of Hospitality (TISOH), an affiliate of AHLEI.


Provides continuous professional development for hospitality professionals through short courses and trainings.

O*Net Online/ Skills

The O*NET Work Importance Profiler (WIP) is self-assessment career tool that allows you to focus what is important to you such as values and other characteristics. Based on your input, it will identify jobs that may appear satisfying to you. As hospitality professional, you may use this tool to find the skills, knowledge and abilities that you need to advance your career. This is a free resource.


According to its website, “CliftonStrengths 34 is online assessment that measures your talents and sorts them into unique rank order of 34 CliftonStrengths themes. Once you’ve taken the assessment you get personalized reports that explain how you can make the most of your talents to achieve your goals at work and everywhere else.” You may have to purchase this assessment to access.


According to its website, “Kolbe uncovers the secret to your job/career success: the Kolbe A™ Index describes the strengths in the way you take action. The Kolbe B™ Index shows the demands of the job you’re doing. Match these two up and you get a picture of your job fit.” You may have to purchase this assessment to access.

How to start a professional development plan?

  1. Assess where you are with your career is the first thing that you may need to do. Are you a newly graduate in hospitality? Are you a supervisor, a manager or someone who is transitioning to other industry? It will be easier to determine your professional development plan if you know where you are at with your career and where you are going.
  2. Writing down an inventory of your current skills, strengths and weaknesses. To determine other skills that you need to achieve your career goals, awareness of your current skills, strengths and weaknesses is very important.
  3. Setting your career goals using S.M.A.R.T philosophy. S = Specific – refers to you your specific goal or objective. It must be well defined and clear. M = Measurable – your goal must be something that can be measured towards accomplishment. A = Achievable – your goal must be something that you can work toward, and not impossible to achieve. R = Relevant – your goal must be relevant to your career and advancement. T = Timebound – your goal must have defined timeline on when you will achieve or must have a target period of achievement.
  4. Creating your professional development plan. Be strategic in developing your professional development plan and keep in mind that this is not a one-time thing but a continuous process.

Hospitality Career Focus – HOSCAF provides these resources for informational purposes only. We cannot authenticate the accuracy, efficacy, benefits, quality, legality or usefulness of the information provided. The inclusion of these references, including affiliate links, if any, does NOT constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Hospitality Career Focus – HOSCAF. We are not liable for any loses that may occur when you use and engage in these resources. Please do your own research before making any online purchases from these resources and make sure it is right for you.