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Associate's Degree in Tourism

Earning an associate's degree in hospitality and tourism can prepare you for a career in this field. Keep reading to learn more about programs that lead to this degree, including typical coursework, and see employment outlook information.

Is an Associate's Degree in Tourism Right for Me?

Associate's degrees in tourism and hospitality management can provide you with the professional skills needed to work in the tourism industry. These degrees are offered in various formats, including Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Applied Business. A program will prepare you for a variety of professional settings, including working for or with the following types of businesses:

  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Casinos
  • Cruise lines
  • State travel offices
  • Travel and tour agencies

Throughout the program, you may learn about the hospitality and tourism industries through a variety of methods, including taking classes, going on trips, meeting local contacts and participating in internships. The goal of the program is to teach you effective management skills and to prepare you to become a potential small business owner. The whole program generally takes two years to complete.

Learning Methods Courses, internships, field trips
Common Courses Accounting, event planning, management, hospitality law, speech
Learning Environments Traditional classroom and distance learning degree options are available
Mean Salary (2018) $62,270* (for all lodging managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Classes Will I Take?

Through an associate's degree program, you'll be required to take few electives en route to obtaining an associate's degree. Most of your classes will focus on business and legal issues specific to the hospitality industry. Sample course topics are:

  • Hospitality and lodging management
  • Event planning
  • Hospitality law

Other required classes will encompass a broader understanding of business practices. These classes may cover subjects such as:

  • Computer skills
  • Accounting
  • Speech
  • Small business management

Can I Earn it Online?

While many schools only offer the programs in on-campus settings, other schools do offer distance learning options for obtaining the degree. This option may better suit you if you have a schedule that doesn't allow you to be regularly present in a classroom setting during the daytime. Online programs are similar to campus-based programs in that they regularly take two years to complete and require similar classes. You should keep in mind that, depending on the school, you may still be required to complete an internship or other in-person commitment for completion of the online degree program.

What Can I Do With the Degree?

Earning an associate's degree in tourism and hospitality management provides you with a wide variety of career options. You'll not only have an enhanced chance of obtaining a job with a hotel or travel agency, but you'll also be more prepared if you choose to become a small business owner in the tourism or hospitality industries, perhaps by opening your own restaurant or resort. One sample job you could obtain would be a lodging manager. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), lodging managers earned an average salary of $62,270 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicted that employment opportunities in this industry will grow by four percent between 2016 and 2026.