Aimee Elliott

Aimee Elliott works in Missoula College's kitchenAimee Elliott knows good food.

As the Chef Instructor for MC’s Culinary Arts Program, herself a graduate of the program, Elliott guides her students through rigorous five-week cycles of instruction that end in multi-course gourmet meals.

But Elliott also knows good hospitality. 

The winning combination finds a home this fall in MC’s new offering, Professional Certificate of Hospitality Management.

“It was just kind of a pipe dream that I had that maybe we could start offering it,” said Elliott, who noticed a lack of local workers in Montana’s booming tourism industry. 

Tourism is one of Montana’s highest grossing industries, but nailing down a year-round job in a field dominated by seasonal work can be difficult. Many companies fill management- and executive-level positions with out-of-state personnel. 

Two- and four-year institutions in Montana simply didn’t offer the type of academic and practical training for entry and mid-level positions at restaurants, resorts and hotels. Elliott herself had to seek an advanced degree online.

The Hospitality Management Certificate is meant to prepare graduates for those permanent, full-time positions in a variety of fields, from restaurant manager to front desk staffer to head chef.

“Our grads would have a very well-rounded knowledge base of all of the components within the industry,” said Elliott.

The new one-year certificate program incorporates specialized training with core math and writing requirements. Courses emphasize proficiency in accounting, customer service and strong communication skills to prepare graduates for both front and back of house positions. 

This fall, eight students enrolled in Introduction to Hospitality Management. Most are currently enrolled in the culinary program, but some currently work in the industry and are seeking an education to match. 

“You can take those skills and apply them to any business,” said Elliott.

The certificate could potentially expand to become an Associate’s Degree in Hospitality Management, but for now interested students can take Hotel Management and Operations in the spring of 2016.