Bed and Breakfast Owners


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Because you'll essentially be maintaining a home as a bed and breakfast owner, you should take family and consumer science courses. These courses can prepare you for the requirements of shopping and cooking for a group of people, as well as budgeting household finances. But a bed and breakfast is also a business, so you need to further develop those budgeting skills in a business fundamentals class, accounting, and math. A shop class, or some other hands-on workshop, can be very valuable to you; take a class that will teach you about electrical wiring, woodworking, and other elements of home repair. English and speech classes will help you to communicate with your customers. Classes in a foreign language, such as Spanish, will help you to communicate with customers who do not speak English as their first language. Computer science-related classes will help you learn how to create and manage databases, design Web sites, and otherwise use computers and the Internet to promote your business. Finally, you will need to be constantly marketing your business to potential customers, so be sure to take as many marketing and advertising classes that are available.

Postsecondary Training

As a bed and breakfast owner, you're in business for yourself, so there are no educational requirements for success. Also, no one specific degree program will better prepare you than any other. A degree in history or art may be as valuable as a degree in business management. Before taking over a bed and breakfast, though, you may consider enrolling in a hotel management, a vocational school program, and associate's degree program, or small business program at your local community college. Such programs can educate you in the practical aspects of running a bed and breakfast, from finances and loans to health and licensing regulations.

If you enroll in a formal hospitality management program, you will likely be required to participate in an internship at a hotel or bed and breakfast. You might work as a desk clerk, restaurant manager assistant, or in another department. Participating in an internship is an excellent way to learn more about the field. You can also volunteer at a hotel or bed and breakfast to get an idea of the jobs that are available.

Opportunities for part-time jobs and internships with a bed and breakfast are few and far between. Bed and breakfast owners can usually use extra help during busy seasons, but can't always afford to hire a staff. But some do enough business that they can hire a housekeeper or a secretary, or they may have an extra room to provide for an apprentice willing to help with the business.

Other Education or Training

The Professional Association of Innkeepers International offers webinars and other educational opportunities to its members. Recent eLearning sessions included "Build Your Brand… You’re More than a Place to Sleep!," "How & Why to Change Your Marketing When the Economy is Bad," and "Converting Inquiries into Loyalists." Visit for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Though bed and breakfast owners aren't generally certified or licensed as individuals, they do license their businesses, and seek accreditation for their inns from professional organizations such as the Better Business Bureau. With accreditation, the business can receive referrals from the associations and can be included in their directories. A house with only a room or two for rent may not be subject to any licensing requirements, but most bed and breakfasts are state regulated. A bed and breakfast owner must follow zoning regulations, maintain a small business license, pass health inspections, and carry sufficient liability insurance.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience you can obtain in the hospitality industry through internships, part-time jobs, or volunteerships will be useful.

Bed and breakfast ownership calls upon diverse skills. You must have a head for business, but you have to be comfortable working among people, outside of an office. You must be creative in the way you maintain the house, paying attention to decor and gardening, but you should also have practical skills in plumbing and other household repair (or you should at least be capable of diagnosing any need for repair). A knowledge of the electrical wiring of your house and the phone lines is valuable. You'll also need an ability to cook well for groups both large and small.

Bed and breakfast owners should be easygoing, organized, and enjoy meeting new people. They must be a gracious host to all their guests, but they must also maintain rules and regulations; guests of bed and breakfasts expect a quiet environment, and smoking and drinking is often prohibited.

If turning your home into a bed and breakfast, you should learn about city planning and zoning restrictions, as well as inspection programs. Computer skills will help you to better organize reservations, registration histories, and tax records. You should have some knowledge of marketing in order to promote your business by ads, brochures, and on the Internet.