Associate's and bachelor's degrees are common options for students looking to pursue careers as travel agents, salespersons, consultants or tourism managers. Bachelor's degree programs prepare students for work as travel representatives and managers. Students learn about the different areas of travel, such as airline travel, hotel and lodging, restaurant operations, tourism and vacation services as well as destination management. Most programs offer internship opportunities that allow students to gain hands-on experience with local travel and hospitality businesses.
Associate's Degree in Travel Services
An associate's degree in travel services teaches students customer service and business operations related to service. Programs lead to generalized travel services degrees or specialized degrees in tour operations, airline sales or international travel management.
Programs can offer courses that discuss the history of travel, economic trends in travel and the characteristics of various travel destinations. Programs also include courses on methods of travel and the effect of travel on communities or regions. Other course topics may include:
- Tourism management
- Travel technology and microcomputers
- Hospitality and tourism marketing
- Careers in travel industry
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Bachelor's Degree in Travel Services, Hospitality and Tourism
Bachelor's degrees in travel services vary widely, with travel majors available in tourism management, hospitality, travel entertainment and destination management. Because travel is such an enormous industry, a bachelor's degree in travel services provides broad career prospects and allows students to pursue many career paths. Programs teach students to effectively work in customer support and management and to help customers make travel arrangements.
A bachelor's degree in travel services usually focuses on hospitality or tourism management. Students take business, management, travel and communication courses. Many hospitality programs offer networking opportunities with local travel agencies, hotels and restaurants. Common courses include:
- Hospitality and tourism accounting
- Travel economics
- Travel and tourism law
- International business
- Financial risk management in travel
Popular Career Options
With a bachelor's degree in travel services, students can seek a number of entry-level travel careers. Common employers include hotels and resorts, travel agencies, restaurants, casinos and similar travel establishments. A bachelor's degree prepares students for eventual supervisory or management positions, as well. Common career tracks include:
- Travel guide
- Corporate travel representative
- Travel and tourism manager
- Transportation coordinators
- Senior travel agent
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, employment opportunities for travel agents are expected to decline 12% from 2014 to 2024. The decreased need for travel agents will be affected, in part, because of comprehensive and intuitive travel services offered online. Opportunities will be best for travel agents who can cater to special interest travelers.
In 2015, travel agents earned a $35,660 median annual salary, reports the BLS. Salaries vary greatly and are dependent upon experience, location, type of travel agency and sales abilities.
Continuing Education Information
After acquiring enough experience, travel agents can establish their own travel agencies. Travel agents can also become self-employed travel consultants. With approval from groups such as the International Airlines Travel Agency Network and the Airlines Reporting Corporation, travel agents can meet the necessary legal standings to operate their own travel agency. Students can also seek a master's degree in hospitality and tourism management.
Travel agents can seek certification from the National Business Travel Association, which offers several types of professional travel certification. The Travel Institute certifies travel professionals as Certified Travel Counselors. Although certification is not required, it proves proficiency to potential employers.
Students interested in travel can look into degrees in various aspects of the industry, including hospitality, tourism, and travel management. Aspiring travel agents can also consider attaining certification through the National Business Travel Association.