Careers in the Travel Industry

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in the travel industry. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Travel & Tourism degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does A Career in the Travel Industry Entail?

Careers in the travel industry involve working with customers who are on vacations and trips and helping facilitate their experience in a number of ways. Some possible jobs include professions like travel agents, flight attendants, and tour guides. A travel agent helps a customer plan their ideal vacation by taking care of all of the details like booking plane tickets, lodging, and entertainment during the trip. Flight attendants are responsible for looking after passengers during plane trips by making sure they are having a pleasant and safe experience. Tour guides generally work at a place of interest, either a museum or a popular city, and help tour attendees best enjoy their experience by pointing out interested sites and sharing relevant information. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Flight Attendant Travel Agent Tour Guides
Degree Required High school diploma (or equivalent) High school diploma (or equivalent) High school diploma (or equivalent)
Licensure/Certification Required Certification required Available, not required None
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 2% 12% decline 5%
Average Salary (2015) * $46,750 $38,750 $26,920

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Types of Careers Can I Find in the Travel Industry?

There are many different careers in the travel industry. You could work as a travel agent, tour guide, destination marketing manager or flight attendant. As a travel agent, you would help business and vacation travelers select destinations and plan itineraries. You could work for a travel agency or a corporation. Some travel agents work independently and you could have the opportunity to travel on the job to familiarize yourself with various destinations.

Tour guides work at one destination or travel with a group. Museums, historic sites and tour agencies often hire tour guides to lead excursions and speak to groups. Destination marketing managers work to draw visitors to a particular location. In this job, you could work for a resort, regional tourism agency or convention bureau. Promotion of your destination could involve presentations, print and social media writing, public relations and advertising.

If you'd prefer to fly around the world and help travelers reach their destinations, you might enjoy working as a flight attendant. They provide hospitality, direction and assistance to passengers in flight. While your airline and assigned routes determine your destinations, you may be able to schedule your time off in particular destination cities. You could also be eligible for travel discounts.

What Kind of Education or Training Will I Need?

Travel agent training programs offered by vocational schools can help prepare you for a position in a travel agency. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in the hospitality and travel fields can provide additional credentials you might find helpful if you are seeking employment as a corporate travel agent. Continuing education is often necessary throughout your career, as the industry changes quickly.

The educational background you will need to become a tour guide depends on the type of tour work you will do. According to O*Net Online (, tour guides usually receive training on the job, attend vocational school or have an associate's degree. To work as a destination marketing manager, you usually need a bachelor's degree. A major in marketing or business with coursework in hospitality and travel-related marketing will prepare you for many tasks you will face.

Flight attendants are generally required to have at least a high-school diploma, and an associate's or bachelor's degree is preferred by many airlines. After you are hired, you will also complete a 3-6 week program at a flight training center. This is required for certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). You also need to pass FAA safety tests.

What Kind of Job Outlook Will I Have?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates a 12% decline in jobs for travel agents between 2014 and 2024 ( The BLS projected that opportunities will be best for those who choose an area of specialization, such as certain groups of travelers or types of destinations. Positions for tour guides are expected to have an average rate of growth over the same period.

The BLS also noted that shifting economic and political situations can increase or decrease the demand for travel arrangements. This may affect any area of the travel industry you work in, and can especially impact travel agents and destination marketing managers. Employment of flight attendants was expected to only grow by 2% from 2014 to 2014, but the BLS advised that competition will remain high for these popular jobs with travel benefits.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you enjoy helping people make plans and coordinating upcoming events, you may be interested in a job as a meeting and event planner, though a bachelor's degree is likely to be required. These professionals work with individuals and companies who want to plan business meetings or personal events like parties and weddings and help coordinate all the details. They work with outside services, like catering and venues, to make sure the event runs smoothly and meets the client's expectations. With a high school diploma, you could also work in a food and customer service field like bartending or waitressing. These professionals prepare drinks and make sure customers have pleasant dining experiences at bars and restaurants.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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