The associate's degree program (2 years) requires about two years to complete and includes courses in general business practices, as well as travel sales and reservations. In a 4-year bachelor's program, students learn the basics of the travel and tourism industry and develop management skills. Both programs usually require or encourage internships, and students may have the opportunity for study trips to resort areas or for international travel. Program applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Associate of Science in Travel and Tourism Operations
The associate's degree program in travel and tourism combines general education with formal industry training. Students build communication and decision-making skills. They may also take classes in leadership. Future travel agents are often able to participate in international study opportunities or field trips to popular vacation destinations. Additionally, students may elect to complete an internship. Travel and tourism students take core classes in:
- Customer relations
- Business writing
- Sales techniques for travel and tourism
- Reservation planning
- Ship, train and airplane travel
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Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism
Future travel agents seeking a 4-year, business-focused tourism degree may enroll in a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism program. Students learn how to interact with the public and develop problem-solving abilities. Some business schools confer a related bachelor's degree, the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality and Tourism. Travel and tourism bachelor's degree students must typically maintain a 2.0 GPA to graduate. Internship and practicum experiences are usually part of the curriculum. Classes consist of:
- Legalities affecting the travel industry
- Travel and tourism marketing
- Travel and tourism for special interest groups
- Human resources management
- Research methods
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
From 2014-2024, employment of travel agents is expected to decrease by 12%, noted the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the average annual wage for travel agents was $38,750, and California, Florida, New York, Illinois, and Texas had the most travel agents per capita.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information
Travel agents can earn voluntary certifications through travel industry organizations. The International Association of Travel Agents (www.iatan.org) offers a Travel and Tourism credential, while the National Business Travel Association (nbta.org) certifies Corporate Travel Experts.
Students interested in travel and hospitality can seek degree programs at the associate's and bachelor's level that detail various facets of the travel and tourism industry. Graduates can also seek voluntary certification through travel industry organizations to boost their credentials, though the employment outlook of travel agents is expected to decrease a good amount over the next ten years.