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What Are Popular Career Options in Travel and Tourism?

There is a wide range of travel and tourism careers available, with many only requiring a high school diploma. Find out about some of the jobs in travel and tourism and get career details for a few of them.

List of Careers in Tourism Industry

Travel and tourism careers are popular and numerous as more and more people travel the world. Travel and tourism job responsibilities run the gamut: they could include anything from food-related positions that ensure travelers have something to eat to sales and marketing staff promoting attractions and other recreational experiences. Here is a list of just a few of the more popular or common careers available in the tourism industry.

  • Flight attendants
  • Travel agents
  • Lodging managers
  • Recreation workers
  • Food service managers
  • Meeting, convention, and event planners
  • Sales managers
  • Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers
  • Bartenders
  • Concierges

Overview of Jobs in Travel and Tourism

While there are many entry-level positions in travel and tourism that do not require a formal degree, more advanced positions in the industry may require a degree in travel and tourism or hospitality. There are many colleges throughout the country that offer travel and tourism degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Below we discuss a few travel and tourism careers and the required education and job duties for these careers.

Flight Attendant

Flight attendants generally need at least a high school diploma and prior work experience in a service occupation. Once they are hired, these professionals must undergo training with the airline that hired them. All flight attendants must also pass an exam after training to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a job outlook for flight attendants of 10% from 2018 to 2028 and a median annual salary of $56,000 in 2018. Flight attendants are responsible for assisting airline passengers during a flight and responding to any emergency situation that may occur. Other job duties include:

  • Serving refreshments
  • Educating passengers on emergency protocol and usage of safety equipment
  • Enforcing all safety rules on the plane
  • Minimizing passenger discomfort or anxiety, such as during turbulence
  • Instructing passengers where to go/what to do during emergencies

Travel Agent

Most travel agents are required to have at least a high school diploma, but some may pursue a certificate, associate's, or bachelor's degree in travel and tourism to be more competitive. Generally, these professionals do undergo some training with their employers to learn specific computer systems. Additionally, travel agents may pursue a range of professional certifications in the field, such as becoming a Certified Travel Associate (CTA) or Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) through education, exams, and work experience.

The BLS reported that travel agents had a job outlook of -6% (decline) from 2018 to 2028 and a median annual salary of $38,700 in 2018. These agents help travelers plan their trips with everything from accommodations to transportation. Travel agents make these travel arrangements in advance for their clients and may be responsible for:

  • Planning itineraries
  • Making reservations/booking entertainment
  • Totaling costs and ensuring it is within budget
  • Adjusting plans and making changes as needed
  • Providing information concerning culture, weather, attractions

Lodging Manager

Lodging managers need at least a high school diploma and some work experience, but it is becoming more common for employers to require or prefer candidates with associate's or bachelor's degree in hospitality, hotel management, or travel and tourism. Some managers may have worked their way up with years of experience and some may pursue professional certification through the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI).

According to the BLS, lodging managers had a job outlook of 1% (little or no change) from 2018 to 2028 and a median annual salary of $53,390 in 2018. Lodging managers must ensure that guests at their hotel, motel, or other lodging organization have a pleasant experience and that the daily operations of the establishment run smoothly and efficiently. Other job responsibilities for these managers may include:

  • Hiring and training employees
  • Making sure cleaning and safety standards are met
  • Addressing any customer concerns or issues
  • Overseeing budgets and rates
  • Supervising the front office