Highest Paying Jobs in Travel & Tourism

Learn about some of the highest paying career options in the travel and tourism industry. Compare and contrast their job duties, median salaries, education requirements and expected job growth rates.

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Highest Paying Career Options in Travel and Tourism

Several careers in travel and tourism pay annual median salaries well over $50,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although pay varies greatly by employer and position, some of the traditionally highest paying careers in the industry are profiled below.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Airline and Commercial Pilots $105,720 4%
Lodging Managers $51,840 6%
Writers and Authors $61,240 8%
Gaming Managers $69,180 3%
Captains, Mates and Pilots of Water Vessels $72,680 9%

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

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Career Information for Highest Paying Jobs in Travel and Tourism

Airline and Commercial Pilots

Airline and commercial pilots made a median salary of $105,720 as of 2016, according to the BLS, with the top 10% of these professionals making well over $145,000 the same year. Airline pilots travel around the world to transport tourists and other travelers in airplanes. They are also responsible for supervising the crew and operating the aircraft. Their schedules usually vary from week to week. Commercial pilots may give aerial tours to tourists or provide charter flights and are typically responsible for maintaining their aircraft. Commercial pilots need a high school diploma and a commercial pilot's license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), while airline pilots need a bachelor's degree, an FAA pilot's license and an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

Lodging Managers

Although the BLS reported a median salary of only $51,840 in 2016 for lodging managers, the top 10% of these professionals made $96,570 or more the same year. These managers are responsible for overseeing the daily activities and operations of various lodging establishments, like motels and hotels, and ensuring tourists and other guests have everything they need during their stay. They also coordinate the activities of the front desk, check rooms and other areas for cleanliness, address guests' complaints or concerns and hire and train staff members. Education requirements for these professionals vary by employer, but lodging managers usually need a high school diploma and years of work experience or a certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree in hotel management or a related field.

Writers and Authors

Some writers and authors specialize in writing about subjects in travel and tourism. Writers and authors as a whole were reported to earn a median salary of $61,240 as of 2016, per the BLS. The BLS also reported that the top 10% of writers and authors made $118,640 or more writing content for blogs, books, articles, scripts and other media. These professionals may conduct research for their projects and submit drafts to an editor to help prepare the piece for publication. Writers and authors typically need a degree in English or a related field, and experience in the field is helpful.

Gaming Managers

Gaming managers supervise the gaming operations of casinos and made a median salary of $69,180 as of 2016, according to the BLS. The top 10% of these professionals made $124,400 or more (per the BLS) working at these popular tourist spots, ensuring that gaming areas have the staff needed to ensure play goes smoothly. They also enforce casino rules, schedule workers, resolve any customer complaints and make sure payouts are accurate. Education requirements for gaming managers vary by casino, but gaming managers can find positions with a high school diploma or a college degree and several years of relevant experience. All gaming services workers must also be licensed by their state regulatory agency,

Captains, Mate and Pilots of Water Vessels

According to the BLS, captains, mates and pilots of water vessels made a median salary of $72,680 as of 2016, and the top 10% of these professionals made $134,390 or more the same year. Some of these professionals may command cruise ships and other water vessels carrying tourists to various locations around the world. They are responsible for overseeing the crew, steering the vessel, maintaining logs and records, and ensuring the safety of all passengers on board. Captains, mates and pilots of water vessels typically need to earn professional credentials, including the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) and the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). These are available from the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard after acquiring work experience and/or an approved training program.

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