Your Career Change: Travel and Tourism Jobs

Written by Richard O'Connor
Last updated May 8, 2024

Your Career Change: Travel and Tourism Jobs is the seventh guide in our Career Change series. We put the spotlight on a career and how to transition into it. In this guide, you’ll discover the benefits of changing careers to travel and tourism jobs and the steps you need to take to make the switch.

The travel and tourism industry contributed an estimated £237.1 billion to the UK’s GDP in 2023. For a career changer unsure about which sector to move into, the travel and tourism industry has massive potential. You’ll be able to put your transferable skills to good use in a growing sector with a huge variety of travel and tourism jobs.

Join us as we break down everything you need to know to make a career change to travel and tourism and how to get started in this dynamic and rapidly growing industry.

Should I Make a Career Change to Travel and Tourism?

Before taking the plunge into a new career, it’s essential to weigh up the pros and cons. Here are some factors to consider:


  • Growth industry: There’s massive potential for both personal and professional growth in this sector.
  • Variety and people: You’ll meet people from all over the world, experience different cultures, and work in a range of environments like hotels, museums, or tour companies.
  • Travel perks: Depending on the role, you might get travel discounts or even free travel opportunities.
  • Flexible work: Some jobs, like tour guiding, can offer flexible hours or freelance opportunities.
  • Transferable skills: The customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills you develop are valuable in many fields.


  • Seasonal work: Many jobs are busiest during peak seasons, which can lead to fluctuating income and even potential unemployment in off-seasons.
  • Long hours: Especially in hospitality, you can expect to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.
  • Salary: Wages can be lower compared to other industries, especially for entry-level positions.
  • Stressful environment: Tourism roles often involve dealing with demanding customers and unexpected situations which can be stressful.
  • Physical demands: Some roles require long hours on your feet, lifting luggage, or being outdoors in all weather conditions.

As with any career change, we always recommend doing your own research into your desired field. With travel and tourism jobs, it would be wise to research current trends, such as sustainable tourism, where job opportunities may be increased. 

You may also need to consider relocating to a major city or town where tourism and travel jobs are more plentiful.

Careers in Travel and Tourism: What Skills Do I Need?

The travel and tourism industry in the UK is a mix of different professions. As a career changer looking to transition into this field, you’ll need a blend of transferable skills and some specific knowledge depending on your chosen path. 

Here’s a breakdown of essential skills:

  • Communication: This is key! You’ll be interacting with people from diverse backgrounds, so clear and friendly communication, both written and verbal, is crucial.
  • Customer service: When you work in tourism, you’re the face of the city, town or sight the visitors have come to see. As such, exceptional customer service is the foundation of a great travel experience.
  • Problem-solving: Unexpected situations are bound to arise in this sector. Being resourceful and adaptable to find solutions will keep your guests happy and operations running smoothly.
  • Organisation: Juggling bookings, itineraries, logistics, and schedules requires strong organisational skills to ensure everything runs like clockwork.
  • Time management: Meeting deadlines, adhering to schedules, and managing your workload efficiently are essential in a fast-paced industry like tourism and travel.

Your Career Change: How to Change Careers to Travel and Tourism

Ready to take the leap into travel and tourism? Here are some actionable steps to help you make a successful career transition:

1. Research and Explore

When considering a career change to travel and tourism, it’s essential to start by researching and exploring the different sectors and roles within the industry. Travel and tourism encompass various areas, such as


  • Airlines: Pilots, cabin crew, ground staff
  • Railways: Train drivers, conductors, station staff
  • Cruise lines: Captains, crew, entertainment staff
  • Ferries: Captains, deckhands, customer service representatives
  • Car rentals: Rental car agents, mechanics


  • Hotels: Managers, receptionists, housekeepers, chefs, waitstaff
  • Resorts: Similar roles to hotels, often with a focus on recreation and leisure activities
  • Holiday rentals: Property managers, cleaning staff
  • Hostels: Managers, receptionists

Travel Services

  • Travel agencies: Travel agents, travel consultants
  • Tour operators: Tour designers, tour guides
  • Online travel agencies (OTAs): Website developers, marketing specialists, customer service representatives

Attractions and Activities:

  • Theme parks: Ride operators, concession stand workers, entertainment staff
  • Museums: Curators, docents, visitor service representatives
  • Tourist information centres: Information specialists
  • Adventure tourism companies: Guides, instructors, safety personnel

With such a diverse list of sectors and roles, it’s vital that you take the time to figure out where your skills would best be put to use. From there, you can begin preparing for the next steps in your career change.

2. Networking and Volunteering

Networking is a powerful tool when it comes to career transitions. Here are a few ways you can network when making a career change to travel and tourism jobs:

  • Attend events: there are numerous industry events, conferences, and workshops focused on travel and tourism, all providing opportunities to meet professionals already working in the field, gain insights into the industry, and make valuable connections. 
  • Increase your social media presence: Join professional networks and online communities related to travel and tourism. Participate in discussions, share your knowledge, and seek advice from experienced individuals. These networks can be a valuable source of information, job leads, and mentorship opportunities. Read our tips on building a personal brand for more ideas.
  • Volunteer or Intern: Consider volunteering or interning in the travel and tourism sector. This allows you to gain hands-on experience, expand your network, and showcase your dedication to the sector. It can also provide valuable references and enhance your credibility when applying for jobs.

Networking is an opportunity to build connections within the sector, gain industry insight, and boost your chances of successfully changing careers to travel and tourism jobs.

You may also be interested in 👉🏿 Networking tips for career changers

3. Refresh Your Skills

Think about areas where you may lack the necessary knowledge to pursue a career in travel and tourism Start by evaluating your current skill set and determine which areas require further development. Are there specific technical skills, such as data analysis, digital marketing, foreign language skills or understanding booking management systems that you need to acquire? What about industry-specific certifications or qualifications?

There are plenty of travel and tourism retraining courses to best suit your budget, lifestyle, and goals.

Some of the best retraining courses for starting a career in travel and tourism include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Travel and Tourism: This qualification provides a foundation knowledge of the industry, covering areas like travel destinations, customer service, and travel operations. It’s a good starting point for those with no prior experience, with many colleges in the UK offering this course.
  • Travel and Tourism Diploma: This diploma builds upon the Level 2 Certificate, offering a more in-depth exploration of travel and tourism functions. You’ll study topics like tour operations, travel agency management, and marketing. This course is also offered widely across the UK. 
  • HNC/HND in International Travel and Tourism Management: These higher qualifications provide a more specialised education, preparing you for supervisory or management roles. The curriculum covers areas like travel law, finance, human resources, and destination management. Look for these programmes at colleges around the country that offer Higher National Courses (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs).

This is by no means an exhaustive list so be sure to do your own research after determining the areas of travel and tourism you’re most interested in. 

Bonus read 👉🏿 5 professional courses for career changers

4. Tailor Your CV and Cover Letter

When applying for travel and tourism positions, it’s crucial to tailor your CV and cover letter to highlight your transferable skills and relevant experiences. Emphasise any previous work, projects, or educational background that aligns with the sector. For example, if you have experience in data analysis, highlight how these skills can be applied to travel and tourism projects.

Read our dedicated guides for career changers on 👉🏿 writing a CV and writing a cover letter.

Final Thoughts

Making a career change can be both exhilarating and daunting. However, by carefully considering the pros and cons, honing your skillset, and exploring the diverse sectors and roles available, you can make an informed decision about whether this exciting field is the right fit for you.

Find and apply for all the latest travel and tourism jobs now on the Refreshing a Career jobs board.

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Last Updated: Wednesday May 8 2024
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