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Study tourism and hospitality courses in Australia

Field of Study: Tourism and Hospitality Course Information

As hotels, restaurants and travel services have become more sophisticated, traditional Australian attitudes to ‘serving’ have changed dramatically. In the past, most people in the tourism, hospitality and related industries had little training, with most gaining the relevant knowledge and skills on the job. These days, both vocational and higher education qualifications at various levels are offered by a range of institutions.

While TAFE institutes and private providers were the first to offer courses in this field, universities have followed suit, especially those in regions known for their tourism industry (regional Queensland, for instance).

Private institutions and TAFE institutes do well in this field, probably because many are good at teaching students ‘how to’ and not just ‘about’ work in tourism and hospitality. A number are residential schools where students work on the premises as part of their course. Note that fees may seem high at some of these providers, but they usually include accommodation and meals. Make an enquiry to be sure.

For more information about careers in this field, see the Tourism Training Australia, Australian Hotels Association and the Restaurant and Catering Australia websites.

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VET study in tourism and hospitality

Courses, majors and specialisations in Tourism and Hospitality

This is one of the few fields in which careers have traditionally been launched in the VET sector. There is no shortage of interesting career paths to choose from at all professional levels — in fact, VET graduates can usually succeed in taking the same career paths as degree graduates into hospitality and tourism management.

VET courses in tourism and hospitality run from certificate I through to advanced diploma level. There are courses that lead directly into a variety of occupation areas, listed below, so you're bound to find something that suits will help you develop your skills and interests.

Be aware that the management courses (hospitality management and tourism management, for example) are only available at diploma or advanced diploma level.

Where to study Tourism and Hospitality courses

Relevant courses are available at TAFE institutes and also many private VET providers all around the country. This is one of those fields in which there are a number of specialist providers, both in the public and private sector. Some of the private institutions are elite residential schools, which offer training at both higher education and VET level. They may charge higher fees than TAFEs that specialise in the field.

Career opportunities in Tourism and Hospitality field

A range of occupations are possible after VET study in this field, including caterer, chef or cook, events coordinator, hospitality manager, resort manager, tour guide, travel salesperson and visitor information officer.

Specific occupations that have high projected growth rates in employment are those of a more operational nature, such as cooks, waiters, bar attendants, room attendants and kitchen hands.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Undergraduate study in tourism and hospitality

Courses, majors and specialisations in Tourism and Hospitality

The following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:

  • Catering

  • Ecotourism

  • Event management

  • Hospitality management

  • Hotel and hospitality studies

  • International tourism

  • Resort management

  • Restaurant management

  • Tourism management

  • Wine tourism

Over the past decade tourism and hospitality has become something of a glamour field. The increasing profile of niche trading sectors such as gastronomy, ecotourism, cultural tourism, wine tourism and sport tourism has created growth in the industry, and new markets continue to emerge, including heritage tourism and Indigenous tourism.

Many of the degree courses in this field will be specialist courses, designed for their particular industries. For example, you might look for a bachelor of tourism or a specialist tourism degree such as ecotourism or heritage tourism. However, specialist business degrees are also common. In hospitality, for example, you will find bachelor of business degrees in hotel management or hospitality management.

The course structure for courses in this field will usually involve two or three elements. First, there will be classes that teach you about your industry and how it works. Second, especially in the specialist business degrees, you will have a part of the course that deals with business skills relevant to the industry. These may include marketing or management. Finally, and most importantly, these courses involve extensive practical components. Sometimes this practical experience will take place off the job, in elaborate practical training facilities. However, paid industry internships are also common. Practical experience is vital both so you can learn your trade but also so that you can demonstrate to potential employers that you have current industry experience.

Knowledge and skills gained in this industry are increasingly transferable worldwide, and many students head overseas as soon as they have graduated. A course that doesn’t meet international standards could reduce your options and leave you stuck at home. Ask the institution you’re interested in for evidence of its graduates’ success in getting jobs, and find out whether you will be offered any help looking for work. You can build up your portfolio of skills and references by finding part-time or casual work in the industry.

Although this is a very accessible field overall, be aware that demand for some courses is very high. At some of the specialist colleges, you may need to attend an interview.

Where to study Tourism and Hospitality courses

You will find relevant courses at institutions of all kinds — from TAFE institutes with higher education divisions to universities and private higher education providers. You will also find many providers that are specialists in a certain field, such as hotel management or patisserie.

Courses in this field are largely vocationally oriented, so, whichever kind of provider you choose, you should look for practical training — either on the job or through on-campus simulation (practice kitchens and restaurants, for example). You should also ensure that the course is fully accredited by the Australian Hospitality or Tourism Training Review Panel, and check out whether the course is recognised by any international industry organisations.

See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in Tourism and Hospitality field

According to the 2014 Course Experience Questionnaire survey, graduates in this field are quite impressed with the quality of teaching and the skills they gained. At an average of $43,544 in 2014, starting salaries are well below those of other graduates, and 40 per cent of graduates had a tough time finding full-time work. Around 20 per cent of 2013 graduates chose to pursue further study.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Postgraduate study in tourism and hospitality

Courses, majors and specialisations in Tourism and Hospitality

This is quite a new field of study in higher education and it is newer still at postgraduate level. There around 1200 postgraduate students in this field enrolled across the country, most of whom are completing coursework degrees such as graduate certificates and graduate diplomas.

These courses offer opportunities for those who are new to the field to gain professional skills and qualifications that will allow them to move into the tourism and hospitality industries. For those who already have a relevant background, postgraduate study is a good way to improve career advancement.

Formal qualifications in hospitality, particularly at postgraduate level, focus on management-level training and knowledge rather than the basic skills that can be learned on the job in the industry. Common specialisations include hospitality management and event and convention management. Another stand-out specialisation is gastronomy.

The tourism field has evolved in recent years. Gone are the days when working in tourism focused on getting people from one place to another and booking them on local tours. Tourism is now made up of a wide variety of fascinating niche markets that are reflected in the diversity of course options. There are programs in food and wine tourism, ecotourism, Indigenous tourism and sports tourism that will make an interesting addition to the résumé of those already working in the field or those who want to take advantage of these growth areas.

Where to study Tourism and Hospitality courses

At postgraduate level, you will find tourism and hospitality courses both at universities and private providers.

Just one in ten students complete a research degree, but if this is something you're considering, check out the specialties of institutions you are interested in as well as potential supervisors.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in Tourism and Hospitality field

Hospitality and tourism are among the big long-term growth industries in Australia, demonstrated by the increasing number of specialisations and markets, but the current demand for postgraduates seems to be limited. Many graduates (42 per cent) have trouble finding employment

That being said, graduates of this field are impressed with the generic skills they gained (rating this category four stars), but not overly satisfied with their course experience overall, according to the latest national Course Experience Questionnaire. Of those who do find work, salaries have increased significantly in recent years, at an average of $79,262 per year — an increase of more than $20,000 on the previous year.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

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