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Travel and Tourism

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Some jobs in the travel and tourism industry do not set specific academic requirements placing the main emphasis on previous experience and customer care skills. However many employers prefer applicants to have at least five GCSEs (A*-C or equivalent qualifications. Advanced level qualifications such as A Levels or Diploma, and increasingly a degree, may be required. Experience of working with customers, especially in a retail or hospitality type of environment, is also very important as is a strong interest in travel.

Useful qualifications include:

  • Diploma in Travel and Tourism, Hospitality or Retail Business.
  • NVQs in customer service.
  • NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in aviation operations in the air - cabin crew.
  • Level 2 Certificate in air cabin crew/airline cabin crew.
  • Intermediate Certificate in air cabin crewing.
  • Level 2 Award, Certificate and Diploma in air cabin crew.
  • Level 2 and Level 3 Certificates and Awards in travel and tourism.
  • NCFE Level 3 Certificate in tour management.
  • Level 3 'Green Badge' and Level 3 'Blue Badge' for tourist guiding.
  • BTEC Level 3 Diplomas and Certificates in travel and tourism, retail or aviation services.
  • BTEC Level 2 Certificate in preparation for tourist guiding.
  • Higher National Diploma (HND) in travel and tourism.
  • Foundation degree in travel and tourism management.
  • Degree in travel and tourism management.
  • Language qualifications at all levels.

As a guide, minimum requirements for entry onto a foundation degree course are one A level and three GCSEs (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications; for a degree course the minimum requirements are normally two A levels and five GCSEs (A*-C), or equivalent qualifications - for example and Advanced Diploma in Travel and Tourism.

Apprenticeships are a good way of entering the travel and tourism or passenger transport sector and it may be possible to enter at supervisory or management level through an Advanced Apprenticeship.

In addition:

Air Cabin Crew

Entry requirements vary between airlines, but all applicants should be educated at least to GCSE standard including English and maths and have customer service experience. Some airlines require at least 3 GCSEs at minimum grade C. Airlines often also set the following requirements for applicants:

  • a minimum age of 18 to 21
  • height normally between 155cm and 190cm and weight in proportion to height (restrictions do vary but tend to fall within these boundaries.)
  • physical fitness, with the ability to swim at least 25 metres
  • normal colour vision and good eyesight
  • clear criminal records checks for security reasons
  • a valid passport allowing unrestricted world travel.

Coach Drivers

To drive coaches you need a category D driving licence (for passenger carrying vehicles) and a certificate of professional competence - both include a practical and a theory test. To train for this licence, a full UK driving licence is required. This can be done by training with a coach company, or independently with a specialist driving instructor. Trainees must pass a full medical test to make sure that they have good enough eyesight and are fit enough to drive a large vehicle.

You need to be at least 18 and to drive on most bus routes you need to be 21.

Passenger check in

Entry requirements vary between employers but all applicants should be educated at least to GCSE standard including English and maths and have customer service experience. Some airlines and airports require at least 3 GCSEs at minimum grade C and for some positions employees need to be 18 years old. Most employers will look for experience of customer service work, which can include shop or restaurant/bar work. It is also an advantage to be able to speak one or more foreign languages. Some young people may enter this work as apprentices.

Resort representatives

Many employers prefer applicants to have GCSEs (A*-C), possibly in English, maths, geography and a foreign language as well as previous customer service, administration or sales work experience. A working knowledge of one or more foreign languages is an advantage, although not always essential. Spanish, French, Greek, Turkish, Italian and Portuguese are particularly useful. Many jobs require representatives to be at least 20 years old.

Children's representatives may be accepted from the age of 18. Employers may also require children's representatives, especially those working with children aged six months to four years, to have a relevant childcare qualification, plus 6 to 12 months of practical child care experience. To work with children, applicants need to undergo checks through the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

Theme park/ fairground workers

There are no set entry requirements. Workers operating rides or attractions at theme parks or fairgrounds must be at least 18, although assistants on children's rides may start at 16.  Theme park/fairground workers may be able to study for an NVQ in mechanical ride operations at Level 2. This covers health and safety, operating leisure park attractions, providing information to customers, working with customers and working as part of a team.

Tour managers

Often tour managers gain experience in other roles in travel and tourism, such as sales or working as a tour guide before moving into tour management. For jobs abroad, knowledge of one or more foreign languages is important. French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek are particularly useful for mainland Europe, but almost any language can be advantageous. Experience of living and working abroad is useful, as is experience of independent travel.

Some tour operators prefer applicants with a degree, especially for tours that require thorough knowledge of a subject, such as history of art, music or history. However, in some cases, a long-standing interest in the subject or relevant experience may be sufficient.

Tourist guides

Tourist guides may have a degree related to the area that they are guiding in, for example in art history or archaeology; if not they need a good knowledge of the related subject area(s) or the place(s) they are talking to tourists about. Fluency in at least one foreign language can be a great advantage and greatest demand is for German, Italian, French and Spanish. Many guides working in a foreign language are native speakers who now live in the UK. For many, tourist guiding is a second career.

Tourist Information Centre Assistants

Previous experience of working with the public and handling cash is useful. The ability to speak a foreign language is an advantage and may be a requirement for working in centres where assistants deal with many overseas tourists, such as those in large cities, in airports and ports and at major tourism destinations. Knowledge of British Sign Language is also helpful.

Train crew

For on-train crew and station staff roles, employers prefer applicants to have experience of customer service work (for example waiting tables, shop work). They are also looking for skills in communication and dealing confidently with the public. There are no set qualifications to become a railway train conductor. However, Train Operating Companies(TOCs) typically look for someone with literacy and numeracy skills. Some employers ask for GCSEs (A*-C) in English and maths.

Applicants also need to pass a series of assessment tests and a full medical for fitness, eyesight, colour vision and hearing. There is a rigid safety policy on drug and alcohol abuse, and random alcohol and drug tests may be conducted at any time. Candidates may have to undergo checks through the Criminal Records Bureau.

It is possible to enter the role through an Apprenticeship at Level 2 in rail transport operations.

Travel Agents

Personal qualities and enthusiasm are as important as qualifications and it can be an advantage to have customer service and sales experience.

Most young people in travel agency work have entered through Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships in travel and tourism services.



For more information about the courses on offer locally for 14-19 year olds why visit your local area prospectus? -

For courses in higher education check out the UCAS site

For Apprenticeships see the vacancies on the National Apprenticeship website

You can also ring the Barnsley Connexions Centre for information on local Apprenticeships on 01226 205686

Want to find out more about the range of employability skills asked for by employers?