Many people believe that with a degree in Tourism studies they’ll be able to find their dream job in the travel industry, because frankly, travel is one of the activities that most people find attractive. However, it’s easy to fall in this trap. You don’t always need a degree in Tourism studies to find a job in travel industry, although with some jobs it can be very useful.
Another myth is related to jobs that you can do once you graduate. Tourism students are often asked if they will be tour guides, travel agents or flight attendants. But this really is wrong because the industry is vast and employs so many professionals such as urban planners, ecologists, designers, marketers, doctors, lawyers, writers and others.
In fact, the biggest mistake people make is that they decide to get a degree in Tourism studies because they think that’s gonna help them travel more afterwards. Oh boy, that’s so wrong. Travel is people’s industry. You’re there to make someone else’s dreams come true. Think of the workers in tour agencies for example. Their job is administrative and they SELL FUN. They’re not part of it. Of course, there are also jobs that require you to travel, but who can guarantee that you’ll get one of those?
So if you think that a degree in Tourism studies or a job in travel industry will help you travel all the time and sip cocktails on a Greek island, sorry to disappoint you, that’s probably not gonna happen. There are many other fields that pay better, therefore you can allocate more money for travel.
As mentioned before tourism is a vast industry and it consists of many entities such as sales, marketing, IT, finance and administration. You can also opt for a degree in one of these fields and still find a job in travel. Studying tourism is a good idea perhaps, if one day you’d love to work in education and specialize further in this field.
Let’s take a look at each business separately;
Tourism degree is usually preferable but it’s not crucial. Travel agencies are known for their ‘entry level’ jobs which makes this easier for people who’d love to switch careers. Also many people landed a job of a travel agent shortly after their high school graduation.
This field is even bigger than the tourist agency industry and it consists of even more professionals, making it easy to enter with a non-Tourism degree. You can work as a manager, web programmer, marketer, tour director etc.
A certificate will usually be necessary for obtaining the license of a tour guide, but the most important thing is the knowledge of the local destination (which you don’t need a degree for).
Degree in Business Administration or Management is often more necessary (and useful) than a degree in Tourism. Another key thing is that hospitality is very diverse and consists of variety of professions; think front office staff, accounting (eg: financial advisor), food service (eg: food and beverage director, bartender), food preparation (eg: chefs), housekeeping, sales and marketing and so on. Hospitality also offers many entry-level jobs which makes it easy to get in.
Flight attendants, customer service agents, reservationists… these are some professions that are usually easy to get even with the high school diploma. Of course, flight attendants usually need to know at least two foreign languages and have to pass through a training before they start work. If you’d like to work in flight operations, a university degree will usually be necessary. Then there’s engineering and administration, sales and marketing. Surely with a degree in Tourism it would be easier to fill jobs such as ticket agents, sales representatives, district sales managers etc. but again not mandatory. Reservationists will need to have an experience with the airline computer reservation system, more often than a University degree.
Car Rental Industry
This is another industry that is not so strict in terms of education. Many positions in the offices are entry -level and the industry also employs drivers, managers and accountants.
Usually hires drivers, managers and customer sales representatives.
Many positions are administrative and are connected with the sales, marketing and finance. Engineering is also an important operation. Getting a job in the railroad industry is bit more difficult than with other industries and there are not so many entry-level jobs.
This industry might be the most complex one and it offers careers in administration, IT, marketing, sales and of course in engineering and maintenance. Then there are positions in entertainment including casino and spa staff, photographers, hairdressers etc. The industry also offers many entry-level jobs, while the degree in hospitality definitely raises your chances of getting a job.
Convention and visitor bureaus
It’s very difficult to get a job in this field so University degree is preferable. Tourism, business management, marketing and communications graduates have higher chances of a getting a job in convention and visitor bureaus.
Travel Writing and Photography
Working as a journalist or a photographer can enable you to travel extensively which is a win-win situation because you combine your profession with active travel.
If you’d love to work in education, having a degree in Tourism can be very useful as many Universities are opening tourism programs at their schools and teachers and assistants are needed.
So, the point of this post is not to convince you that you shouldn’t study tourism. Tourism is a fantastic thing to study because it includes a mix of everything: from geography, to marketing and management and economics. But with the growing professionalism of the industry, people with many other degrees are enabled to work in travel. And then again if your intention is not to work in the travel industry but just travel, obtaining a different degree will probably secure you a better salary.
Degree in Tourism can be great for those who have entrepreneurial spirit and who want to learn about the industry as a whole while the career in travel definitely provides mobility and with constant expanding offers opportunities for new job roles.
Some great programs can be found on the official website of the World Tourism Organization and they’re classified by countries.
What’s your opinion on this? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.