What Salary Can I Expect With a Tourism Management Degree?

Tourism took a punch during the Great Recession but has since sprung back to be bigger than ever. In 2012 international tourist arrivals exceeded one billion for the first time, and experts predict totals to reached 1.8 billion by 2030. No surprise, then, that business is booming. In 2016, travel & tourism made a global economic impact of nearly $8 trillion, and the hotel industry’s revenue was $550 billion. The United States is one of the largest tourist destinations in the world, accompanied by China, Mexico, Thailand, and a reliable stable of European countries, including Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and France (traditionally the most popular destination in the world).

As one of the world’s leading tourism markets (for both arrivals and departures), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects significant hiring increases through 2026. Lodging managers, gaming managers, food service managers, and meeting, convention, and event planners – all jobs typically related to the tourism industry – are projected to see 10% occupation growth (faster than average). Management jobs in general – which might include roles like Hotel Manager or Tour Manager – will add over a half-a-million jobs, with a median salary starting in the low six-figures. Other titles pay even better. At the senior meeting and event director level, median salary hits $118,000. A Director of Hotel Sales earns a $160,000-$200,000 salary to lead a hotel’s sales, marketing, and product development projects.

Any of the above positions can be secured with a degree in tourism management, including associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. To get a better idea of what type of salary you can make with a tourism management degree, let’s take a look at individual degrees and typical corresponding positions’ pay.

What Salary Can I Expect With an Associate’s in Tourism Management

An associate’s degree in tourism management is a great way to kickstart your career. Associate’s degrees have a few benefits: first, coursework only lasts 1-2 years, and most programs are available on a full- or part-time basis for maximum flexibility to working professionals. Second, they’re affordable and career-oriented. In other words, every class you take in tourism management is aimed at developing specific real-world skills, which potential employers will prioritize. On the other hand, not every tourism professional needs a degree in the field, particularly workers at the entry-level. What matters is proven skills, and as far as that’s concerned, there’s no substitute for experience. So whether you choose an associate’s in tourism or prefer an on-the-job learning route, here’s a few entry-level tourism jobs worth considering.

  • Front Desk Clerk – Median Salary: $33,051
  • Guest Services Manager – Median Salary: $36,060
  • Assistant Restaurant Manager – Median Salary: $41,095
  • Meeting/Event Assistant – Median Salary: $48,380

What Salary Can I Expect With a Bachelor’s in Tourism Management

The bachelor’s in tourism management is the most popular degree in the field and offers the broadest career potential. Major core requirements typically consist of 36-45 credits, including Convention & Event Management, Food & Beverage Management, Front Office Management, International Business, Finance, Cross Cultural Communications, and Leadership & Management in Hospitality & Tourism. Most bachelor’s in tourism feature a business module, and internships or capstone projects are integrated to add a real-world component. The nice thing about a bachelor’s? For many tourism jobs, it’s all you need, even for upper-level roles. Again: the name of the game is experience. Many professionals begin who their tourism careers in entry-level roles – be it sales, marketing, hotel operations, or elsewhere – move up through the tourism ranks to earn managerial and upper-level titles that pay six-figure salaries. Below is a brief list of bachelor’s-level positions in tourism and their respective salaries.

  • Travel Clerk – Median Salary:
  • Travel Coordinator – Median Salary: $55,704
  • Travel Supervisor – Median Salary: $79,531
  • Travel Manager – Median Salary: $89,031
  • Marketing Coordinator – Median Salary: $52,078
  • Meeting/Event Planner – Median Salary: $60,286
  • Meeting/Event Manager – Median Salary: $75,684
  • Meeting/Event Director – Median Salary: $118,000
  • Maintenance Supervisor – Median Salary: $73,882
  • Hotel Manager Assistant – Median Salary: $55,518
  • Hotel Resident Manager – Median Salary: $70,496
  • Housekeeping Manager – Median Salary: $72,209
  • Hotel Manager – Median Salary: $103,534

What Salary Can I Expect With a Master’s in Tourism Management

A master’s in tourism management builds on the curriculum of the bachelor’s to create an interdisciplinary program of business and tourism courses. Typically 30-36 credits, courses include Organizational Management, Financial Management in Tourism, Global Tourism Policy, and Strategic Management for Tourism and Travel. Besides advanced coursework, the advantage of a master’s in tourism is that many programs offer specialization options. If you’re interested in the growing eco-tourism sector, look for a program in Sustainable Tourism. Other programs offer concentrations in Hospitality, Hotel Operations, Recreation, Event Management, and other areas. The other advantage of a master’s track? Higher pay. All master’s degrees in tourism management are designed to prepare students for managerial roles, and most are highly flexible to accommodate working professionals. If you’re making a career change, don’t worry: a master’s in tourism management generally doesn’t require experience in the industry, and students come from a variety of business, marketing, sales, and customer relations backgrounds. Below are a few potential career options and salaries for master’s grads.

  • Travel Supervisor – Median Salary: $79,531
  • Travel Manager – Median Salary: $89,031
  • Hotel Resident Manager – Median Salary: $70,732
  • Hotel Manager – Median Salary: $103,534
  • Head of Housekeeping – Median Salary: $84,008
  • Facilities Director – Median SalaryL: $115,335
  • Sales Director – Median Salary: $158,256
  • Operations Director – Median Salary: $163,950
  • Marketing Director – Median Salary: $134,901
  • Sales and Marketing Director – Median Salary: $147,275

What Salary Can I Expect With a Doctorate in Tourism Management

The PhD in Tourism is a rare degree, primarily pursued for academic purposes. As with all doctoral tracks, studies are self-directed and focus on performing original research: for example, the economics of tourism, the effect of tourism on global politics, tourism and multiculturalism, etc. Most graduates go on to careers in academia or areas like public policy, consulting, and non-profits. Of course, tourism PhD’s are eligible for any of the roles above, as well.

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