Jan 19, 2024



Travel Advisor Resources

Fora’s Guide to the Best Career in Travel and Tourism

Fora Author Fora Travel

The Modern Travel Agency

Fora Travel

Icon Share


Red-orange sands rise up into sudden jagged rock formations while shadows bisect half the view before a couple looking out over the expanse

Interested in a career in travel and tourism? We’re detailing the current state of travel, the various opportunities available and tips for dipping your toes in the field. 

Interested in the coolest career in travel and tourism? Skip the reading and apply to become a Fora Advisor today.

Travel careers vs. tourism careers: is there a difference?

Technically, all tourism careers can be called travel careers. But the opposite doesn’t hold up. Tourism is largely associated with leisure (and, to an extent, education) while travel can be leisurely or professional. 

What’s the job outlook for careers in travel and tourism?

Most jobs in the travel industry are on the upswing right now, so now’s a good time to start a career in travel and tourism.

Travel is currently at an all-time high

Since pandemic restrictions waned, travel has come back with a vengeance (there’s actually a term for it). As a result, most careers in travel and tourism are thriving. 

A word of caution: seasonal travel jobs are less secure long term

The long island of Miami Beach, with urban high-rises lining white shores and sapphire water on either side

No matter how popular travel becomes, seasonal jobs are not the best option if you’re looking for long-term work. 

On the flip side, most seasonable jobs in travel and tourism are only intended to be part-time. If you’re explicitly interested in a career, you’ll probably avoid seasonal positions anyway.

Want a career in travel and tourism with unmatchable flexibility? Sign up to become a Fora Advisor.

Tips for securing a career in tourism and travel

There are a few skills and tips that are broadly applicable to careers in travel and tourism. Read on for a quick breakdown.

Develop critical skills: most travel or tourism careers require excellent communication skills

At their heart, virtually all careers in travel and tourism regularly deal with people. As such, having great interpersonal skills will go a long way regardless of your career path.

Marketing skills may also be helpful if you choose a career that requires self-promotion, as with tour operators or travel advisors.

(Looking to boost your marketing skills? Fora offers extensive advisor training: we’ll teach you everything from optimizing your social media to how to build a sales funnel within a travel context.)

Learning multiple languages can be helpful

Few careers will put you in contact with so many people of different backgrounds than travel and tourism. Likewise, learning additional languages — even a few basic phrases — can make a big difference in your prospects.

Of course, this isn’t a requirement to work with a global travel agency like Fora, so consider this a boost rather than a requirement.

While traveling isn’t usually a requirement for tourism and travel careers, it can help

A gondolier paddles a couple through a historic canal in Venezia, Italy

On one hand, having extensive travel experience can broaden your perspective, which can be beneficial to a career in travel and tourism. 

On the other hand, needing prior travel experience is one of the great myths about becoming a travel advisor. In this case, simply having a passion for travel and knowing when to lean on research tools — like Fora’s community app Forum and integrated advisor portal — is more than sufficient to be successful.

Understand industry trends

Having your finger on the pulse of the travel industry may provide helpful context for a career in travel. 

For instance, France has been the most-visited country for the past three years. Travel planners who were aware of this and conducted a little bit of extra research for France itineraries may have had an edge over competitors who weren’t as prepared. 

There are no guarantees when it comes to industry trends — that’s their nature — but simply having context for what’s going on in the business can make a difference in your career.

Network with travel and tourism professionals

Running a successful business in a vacuum is nearly impossible. Just about every career, in travel and tourism or otherwise, can benefit from networking. Not only can this be an excellent source for business, but it can help you land a career in the field in the first place.

Consider your education options

Many careers in travel and tourism are more accessible to candidates with degrees or some type of formal education.

That being said, if travel planning is appealing, you should know that Fora doesn’t require any experience or education to join. Rather, we provide all the travel agent training and travel agent certification you could need to be successful.

Interested? Apply to become a Fora Advisor.

8 options for a career in travel and tourism

One of the ritzy hotels of Dubai stands prominently like a blade out of the shoreline

There are dozens of different careers in travel and tourism, but here are a few of the more popular choices (all of which are doing fairly well at the moment).

1. Tours: operators & guides

Perhaps on the lower end of the income spectrum, tour guides in coveted destinations get to wax poetic about all sorts of subjects, from haunted houses in NOLA (see our guide to New Orleans, off the beaten path) to old battlefields, historic castles and more.

Tour operators, the entities responsible for employing guides, tend to make a more lucrative living at the expense of working in more of an administrative role.

The former often requires extensive knowledge on the subject while the latter may be relegated to entrepreneurs and / or those with business degrees.

2. Hospitality: hotel staff & managers

Hospitality jobs — think hotels and resorts — are seeing an explosion right now in the United States.

Entry-level positions, including labor-intensive roles like housekeepers and customer-facing roles like receptionists, rarely have strict hiring criteria. But they also tend to pay on the lower end of the spectrum as far as careers in travel and tourism are concerned. 

Senior positions such as hotel managers, on the other hand, can be very fruitful careers. The trade-off, of course, is that they require a degree in hospitality or years of experience.

3: Sommeliers

Sommeliers may be an unexpected addition to our list of travel and tourism careers. But most wine tastings occur in sought-after destinations like Napa Valley, one of the best places to visit in California (see our guide to Napa hotels), or Tuscany in Italy (read about where to stay in Tuscany). 

This rare profession is reserved for oenophiles, however. And, perhaps just as important, it often requires plenty of experience in the industry before a livable wage is achievable, especially considering most sommeliers live in areas with a high cost of living.

4. Airlines: flight attendants & general staff

At dusk and bathed in golden light, a passenger get lands at Zurich Airport

Perhaps the most widely available career in travel and tourism: general airline staff. That’s essentially everyone from security at airport doors to flight attendants on planes. Most positions require limited experience or education, if any, and most pay decent hourly wages or salaries. 

Flight attendants get to travel regularly, which is a fun perk. But the prospect of working with unruly passengers may not be appealing to all.

5. Airlines: pilots

Airline pilots enjoy one of the more enviable salaries of careers in tourism and travel. But they also require tons of specialized training and education that’s not readily accessible across the country. In fact, this requirement is partly why there are so many openings for pilots across the airline industry, despite great pay and benefits.

6. Cruises: general staff & cruise directors

One of the most grueling careers in the travel and tourism industry: cruise staff. Lower positions typically have unforgiving schedules and mediocre pay while director positions are, though often very well paid, extremely selective.

On the flip side, working on a cruise ship can be a blast, and some cruise lines allow their employees to go on shore leave (in case you wanted to check out Bahamas resorts, the most beautiful cities in Mexico…you get the idea).

(P.S. If you’re a fan of swanky cruises but aren’t necessarily jumping at the chance to live aboard, perhaps selling trips as a Virgin Voyages travel agent is the opportunity you’re looking for.)

7. Cruises: navigation, engineering & other specialists

Specialist roles on cruises are often even more selective than airlines and client-facing roles, requiring lengthy experience in adjacent fields (e.g., shipping, the military and so on). Examples might include cruise ship mechanics or engineers, ship captains and even onboard doctors. 

The pay for these travel and tourism careers is often substantial, but again, the education and experience criteria are tip-top.

8. Travel advisors

A woman works remotely from her satellite-connected computer in the middle of a forest

What does it take to become a travel agent (a.k.a travel advisor or travel consultant)? Compared to other top careers in travel and tourism, not much — and yet, top earners among travel advisors enjoy very generous salaries (see more about Fora travel advisor salaries). In fact, learning how to become a travel agent is fairly straightforward — at least if you join us, as we provide all the training you need to be successful. 

It’s also one of the most flexible careers in travel, and the only major career in the field that allows professionals to operate their business as an independent entity. Not to mention you get to sell adventure and happiness to excited clients, making it a wholly enjoyable job for established advisors.

So what do travel agents do exactly? They plan trips and make reservations on their clients’ behalf. 

Interested? Sign up to become a Fora Advisor and enjoy an extensive suite of benefits unparalleled among modern travel agencies.

Career in travel and tourism FAQs

Have more questions about careers in travel and tourism? We have a few answers for you.

What career is best for traveling?

Looking for jobs where you travel — or desire an income source to fund your ventures while traveling the world? Cruise and airline positions allow you to travel often, but considering most jobs are either low paying or have very tough requirements, these careers will only appeal to some. 

If you’re looking for a career that allows you to travel whenever you like with practically no experience or education stipulations, travel planning may be your best bet.

What’s the highest-paying job in travel and tourism? 

A woman with colorful hair and trendy clothes works from her apartment with high-rise towers faintly visible through her windows

This is hard to answer because there is a lot of nuance involved. 

Specialist positions on cruise ships and hotel managers tend to be lucrative travel or tourism careers. Successful travel advisors make comparable income, too, though. That’s especially true for corporate and luxury travel advisors who work with more discerning clients.

(BTW: how much do travel agents make anyway?)

Is the tourism industry right for you? Is corporate travel a better alternative?

The tourism industry isn’t for everyone, particularly for people who aren’t overly social. That being said, if you’re more interested in professional discourse, you may still consider being a corporate travel agent. There’s a different vibe to this sort of travel planning that may be more appealing to some.

Will a niche or specialization help you land a travel or tourism career?

In terms of travel planning, certainly; there are tons of different travel agent jobs

Beyond that, it depends on the role. For example, a niche can certainly be beneficial if you’re interested in being a tour guide or operator. But there’s no real benefit if you’re applying for a position at an airline.

Do any tourism or travel careers allow you to be fully remote?

A woman looks out from a pool at a whitewashed Greek seaside resort toward the sea as a cruise ship passes by

Administrative positions within the hospitality and cruise industries allow some workers to be remote. Plus, remote travel agents have become the norm rather than the exception. 

Otherwise, most careers in travel and tourism aren’t remote (it’s pretty hard to fly an airplane from home…for now at least). 

(Looking for the best remote jobs for moms or jobs you can do remotely while traveling? Check out our guides.)

Want the best career in travel and tourism? Become a Fora Advisor

If it wasn’t obvious, our favorite career in travel and tourism is travel planning. And there are a lot of reasons to become a Fora Advisor if this path intrigues you. (Don’t take it from us,: see what our advisors have to say about it.)

If you have a passion for travel and love the idea of making your own schedule, sign up to become a Fora Advisor today.

Still on the fence? Check out more travel advisor resources below:

    Are you the go-to person for travel tips?

    Transform your passion for travel into your dream job. We'll set you up with everything you need to succeed as a travel advisor. From training to top-notch tech, marketing assets, community, commission tracking & payments (and more), we've got you.

    Furnished room behind open barn style doors