The world is an amazing place, and people love to explore it, but international travel often requires support, planning, and guidance. The international tourism management sector encompasses a wide variety of jobs, including tour guides, travel clerks, travel agents and guides, lodging managers, and tourism marketing managers. Some entry-level jobs require only a high school diploma and hands-on training, but senior management positions call for a bachelor's or master's degree.
International tourism managers can work as travel clerks, tour guides, travel agents, lodging managers or tourism marketing managers. Requirements for international tourism management positions vary by specialization. Some of these careers require a high school diploma and on-the-job training, while others require a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration, hospitality or a related field.
|Career||Travel Clerks||Tour Guides||Travel Agents||Travel Guides||Lodging Managers||Tourism Marketing Managers|
|Education||High School Diploma||High School Diploma
Bachelors Degree (recommended)
|Bachelor's Degree||Bachelor's Degree||Master's Degree||Master's Degree|
|Projected Job Growth from 2014-2024*||-1-1%||5-8%||-2%||-1-1%||5-8%||9-13%|
|Median Salary 2015**||$35,170||$24,100||$35,660||$34,180||$49,720||$128,750|
Sources: *O*Net, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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International tourism management is a broad field encompassing a variety of career options. The most promising salaries require an advanced degree, while it's possible to enter the industry with only a high school diploma. Below is a summary of six different career options.
Travel clerks may work in call centers or in an airport or tourist center. They answer telephone calls and e-mails from clients and talk to clients in person, making and confirming travel reservations and selling tickets. They provide clients with travel information including local points of interest, restaurants and hotel rates. This is generally considered an entry-level position for those who want to work as international tourism managers. As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that reservation and transportation ticket agents, along with travel clerks, earned median salaries of $35,170 per year. O*Net estimates that the number of positions available in this area will experience little to no growth (between -1 and 1%) between 2014 and 2024.
Tour guides lead clients on educational or sight-seeing activities at a variety of tourist attractions. They describe points of interest and answer questions from tourists. Guides and escorts monitor their clients to insure they comply with the attraction's rules and safety regulations.
Tour guides are responsible for the physical safety of their clients and must make accommodations for those with disabilities. In some cases, tour guides are experts on the local wildlife and habitats and provide up-to-date information on fishing and hunting regulations. The BLS notes the median salary among tour guides and escorts as of 2015 was $24,100. An average job growth rate of 5-8% is expected from the years 2014-2024 (www.onetonline.com).
Travel agents help their clients sift through vast amounts of travel information. They make reservations for their clients' travel, accommodations and recreational activities. Travel agents must have a great deal of knowledge about the destinations they suggest, from the typical weather to local attractions.
International travel agents help their clients plan for obtaining the passports, vaccinations and other arrangements needed for travel between nations. They must be aware of information that changes frequently, such as travel advisories and currency exchange rates.
International travel agents may specialize in one particular country or group of countries, or they may specialize in segments of the population (families traveling with young children, for example, or travelers over the age of 55), niche markets or specialized forms of travel (railway travel, for example, or cruise ships). Travel agents earned median salaries of $35,660 as of 2015, reports the BLS. O*Net projects a 2% decline in job growth from 2014-2024.
Travel guides arrange and sell tour packages and itineraries. They're responsible for booking transportation, lodging and tours and keeping careful track of bills and recording payments made.
Travel guides are supervisors who must manage a team of tourism workers including hotel and food service workers, tour guides and escorts, travel clerks and agents. They also need specialized knowledge in sales and marketing, geography, transportation and accounting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), travel guides earned a median annual salary of $34,180 as of 2015. Growth in the job rate of travel guides is expected to remain basically unchanged at -1 to 1% between 2014 and 2024.
Lodging managers ensure that a hotel, inn, bed and breakfast establishment, camp ground, youth hostel or other place of lodging is run effectively and profitably. They provide their clients with a safe and comfortable place to rest, entertainment, good food and a friendly, knowledgeable service staff.
The general manager of a hotel or other place of lodging is responsible for a great number of operations, and often has a number of assistant managers. The BLS reports that lodging managers earned a median salary of $49,720 as of May 2015. Job growth of 5 to 8% is predicted between 2014 and 2024 (www.onetonline.com).
Tourism Marketing Managers
Tourism marketing managers work with a team of advertisers to promote the products and services of a travel or tourism agency. They estimate the demand for the company's services, identify new markets, develop pricing strategies and watch for tourism trends the company can incorporate. According to the BLS, the median salary among all types of marketing managers was $128,750 in 2015. Job growth for marketing managers is projected at 9-13% between 2014 and 2024, a rate considered average (www.onetonline.com).
Requirements for International Tourism Managers
Travel clerks need to have a high school diploma or its equivalent and on-the-job training provided by the employer. Tour guides may have only a high school diploma, but because they need to answer questions, they must have either extensive on-the-job training or a bachelor's degree.
Becoming an international travel agent requires a good deal of specialized knowledge about a variety of travel destinations. Aspiring travel agents should have at least a bachelor's degree. Some colleges and universities also offer a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Hospitality degree program, while other students earn a degree in marketing with a concentration in tourism management.
Undergraduate-level programs typically include courses in communications, business mathematics, economics, history, political science, social and behavioral sciences and ethics. Programs may also include courses in laws related to tourism. Foreign language skills are extremely helpful for international tourism managers.
Hotel and other lodging managers and tourism marketing managers often have a master's degree in business administration, in tourism management or in a hospitality-related field.
Licensing and Other Skills
Licensing is not necessarily required for working as an international tourism manager, but this varies by country and by area. It is becoming increasingly common for hotel and lodging managers and tour guides to be required to demonstrate competency and earn licensing.
International tourism managers must love working with other people and being of service to others. They must have above-average communication skills and the ability to inspire and supervise others. They must also have intimate knowledge of the destinations their clients will travel in.
Whether you prefer to work with clients planning their trip or interact with travelers at their destination, there's a huge variety of jobs in international tourism management. Some jobs can be obtained with only a high-school diploma, and will provide training on the job, but others may seek bachelor's or master's degree holders. The higher your level of education, the larger the salary you can hope to command.