Workers in the past 30
years whose first job was in the travel and tourism industry progressed "further
in their careers" than others and earned an average maximum salary of
$81,900, according to a study released this week by the U.S. Travel Association.
About two in five of those travel industry workers earned more than $100,000 a
year, according to the study, for which U.S. Travel collaborated with Oxford
Economics to analyze 30 years' worth of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
provide important, transferable skills that are indispensable to career
success, and careers in travel deliver financial security with the majority of
travel industry workers earning a middle-class income or higher," said U.S.
Travel president and CEO Roger Dow.
While the U.S. Travel
Association often touts that the travel sector "supports 14.4 million
jobs" and directly employs 7.5 million American workers, Dow said this
study tried to measure "what those jobs mean for the employee
Oxford Economics and
the association analyzed longitudinal data compiled through BLS' efforts since
1979 to track more than 5,000 American workers. BLS interviewed those workers every
year from 1979 to 1994 and every two years thereafter; another round of interviews
was scheduled this year.
American worker between 1979 and 2010 held 11 jobs," according to U.S.
Travel senior vice president for research and economics David Huether.
"One in five actually had their first job in travel," holding positions
in air transportation, hotels and lodging, car rental, travel agencies,
entertainment and recreational services, museums, art galleries, zoos or other
Of the 5.6 million
Americans who are employed part-time to put themselves through school,
one-third work in travel-related positions, Huether said. According to the study,
33 percent of those who started their careers in travel earned at least a
bachelor's degree. That was second only to the financial services industry, in
which 35 percent of those who began in that sector earned a degree.
Those who began their
careers in financial services also earned the highest average maximum annual
salary of $82,100, a few hundred dollars more than those who began in travel
and tourism. The study also assessed data for those who began their careers in
manufacturing, construction, health care and other industries.
majority of them are not ending up in travel, given that the average worker
ends up with 11 jobs," during their career, Huether noted.
Researchers also claimed
that the travel sector provided higher average annual pay for women, African-Americans
and Hispanics than those in such groups who started in other industry sectors.
Women who had their first job in travel reported an average maximum wage of
$78,000, almost 6 percent more than the $73,900 average for those who started
in other industries, while African-Americans who began their careers in travel
reported a $71,900 average maximum annual salary, nearly 6 percent more than
the $68,100 average for other industries. Hispanics who started in travel
reported a maximum annual wage of $80,100, 8 percent more than those who
started in other industries.
Huether said the
report's "three findings are that travel leads to higher education, higher
pay and is really a launching pad to a rewarding, longer career."
plan to take the study to federal, state and local governments as well as to
educators and career counselors, Dow said. The impetus for the study, Huether
said, "was mainly to bring to light that the travel industry is a pathway
to the middle class."
More than 53 percent—about
4 million workers—of those directly employed in travel earn a middle-class
income of more than $25,000 a year, he added.