CAREER DEVELOPMENT / SEP. 09, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Develop a Career in Tourism

On a cruise
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If you love to travel, enjoy exploring other cultures, learning languages, or excel in delivering great customer service, then the range and variety of opportunities in the tourism industry might appeal to you. Whether you are looking for positions as a sideways move from an established career, entry level roles, work at home, abroad, or in live-in positions such as aboard cruise ships or in hotels or hostels, it is an area many job seekers wish to explore.

If you’re considering a career in tourism, the breadth of choices can make it difficult to know where to start. Start your journey with these tips and links, and enjoy the ride as you plan your career in tourism.

See also: Types of Tourism You Didn’t Know Exist

Do your research

The tourism industry employs up to ten percent of the global workforce, in either direct or indirect positions; and as a result the choice of career options can be confusing. Start your search with some time exploring the different areas, including:

  • Retail travel
  • Wholesale travel, conferences and conventions
  • Visitor information, arts and culture
  • Airlines, cruising and transport
  • Hotels, food and beverage
  • Ecotourism and outdoor recreation
  • Tourism-related ancillary services and event planning

Each area requires different skills and will appeal to different people - perhaps you dream of a position working directly with the travelling public, in which case a role as a travel agent or cruise host might suit; or perhaps it is the sales or planning aspect that appeals, leading to more ’behind the scenes’ roles, such as putting together wholesale travel packages.

Identify what drives your personal interest

With a better understanding of the range of options, it is now time to think about why tourism appeals to you. Spend time writing down words, phrases or ideas that describe what leads you to consider tourism, and ask friends and family their views on what areas might suit you. Different roles have different points which make them fascinating - such as the opportunity to explore as a cruise host, and the chance to meet people from different walks of life from working at a visitor attraction, as well as down sides - for example the long hours demanded in many hotel positions, and the seasonal nature of other roles. Research will help you narrow down which types of roles fit your needs.

Check the qualifications and experience you will need

Having narrowed your search, look to establish what qualifications or experience you may need to break into the area. There are travel and tourism related degrees available, although many roles may be open without degrees or similar qualifications, through a traineeship or apprenticeship. Of those graduates who took related degrees, three quarters report that they have found work within six months of graduating - and although the range of tourism job options is so wide, it is difficult to identify how many of these found the work of their choosing because of their degree, there will certainly be some companies which would be encouraged by the commitment shown in studying travel to a more advanced level.

Think about your transferrable skills

Whether or not you have studied travel and tourism specifically, you will most likely have a range of relevant transferrable skills, such as an ability to speak other languages, great organisational skills, or a strength in understanding and working with different cultures. Write your resume to cover these points, and make sure it is not too broad, as this will be off putting to recruiters.

By the time you are submitting CVs, you should be confident about which areas of the sector you are interested in - although online resume builders allow you to write several slightly different versions of your CV to submit to different types of company - perhaps one for positions in retail travel agencies, and one in wholesale, in which you can describe your interest in more specific detail for the particular type of role.

Follow companies you’re interested in

Build a network with relevant companies and individuals, through following businesses on Twitter and LinkedIn, applying to internships or volunteering - at visitor attractions, or, in the UK, the Youth Hostel Association frequently takes volunteers to work for a season, in return for lodging and food, for example. This way you will not only build a network but gain relevant experience.

If you have family or friends who work in the industry, don’t be afraid to ask them to help you build contacts, perhaps seeking a mentor or asking the advice of someone who has followed a career path which appeals to you.

Keep up to date

Finally, tourism is a dynamic and changing sector, and keeping up to date, by joining industry associations and following relevant press information, is vital to bolster your chances. Keep at the cutting edge of your chosen area, so you can wow the interviewers and show that the passion for travel and tourism is really in your blood!

See also: How to Become a Travel Agency Manager in the US

 

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