Choosing a Career in Tourism

When discussing hospitality, most people just think of a hotel, but it is so much more than that. The hospitality industry is in fact what makes up the tourism economy, which is crucial to the vitality of communities around the world. In Columbus, tourism supports nearly 78,000 jobs, or one in every 12 jobs, and generates $1.25 billion in local, state and federal tax revenue. You can learn more about the Power of Tourism in Columbus here.


However, there are more reasons to choose a career in hospitality than just supporting your community. The hours are flexible, and the opportunities are seemingly endless. Not only do you get to meet people from all over the world, but there could be opportunities to travel all over the world as well. As an industry, it’s also growing as our economy remains strong and people look to travel more and have new experiences.


Plus, it’s one of the few industries where you can start out as an inexperienced, entry-level worker, and rise to the head of an organization. Take the restaurant industry for example: According to the National Restaurant Association, nine in 10 restaurant managers start their careers at entry level, and eight in 10 restaurant owners start their careers in entry-level positions.


There are four main sectors of the tourism economy: Hotels, Attractions, Restaurants and Transportation. Within each of these, there are opportunities to do whatever interests you.



Though hotels aren’t the only career path in the hospitality industry, that doesn’t mean they aren’t an important one. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, there are 8.3 million hotel jobs across the country, which is an increase of 1.1 million since 2015.

Hotel Careers Chart


A tourism attraction is a place of interest to visiting tourists. These places often have a cultural value, historical significance, natural beauty or offer amusement and could include museums, sports stadiums, parks, zoos, botanical gardens and more.

Career Ladder - Attractions



There are more than 1 million restaurant locations across the country, employing 15.3 million employees according to the National Restaurant Association. This accounts for 10% of the overall U.S. workforce. Plus, an expected 1.6 million new restaurant jobs will be created by 2029. According to the Ohio Restaurant Association, as of 2017, there are 83,373 employees at 4,045 eating and drinking establishments in Columbus alone.

Chart: Hotel Career Ladder



From planes and trains to automobiles, the business of moving people is a big one. If people can’t get to or from any of the places listed above, the whole industry falls apart. Plus, working in the transportation industry gives you the most opportunity to get out and explore within a city or around other destinations.  

Chart: Transportation Career Ladder



Figures from the U.S. Department of Labor show us that there are nearly one million job vacancies in the travel and tourism industry, including many in Columbus. While a hospitality degree is one way to go to get into the industry, there are numerous other avenues to lead to a career in hospitality.



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