Category: Travel & tourism jobs

Job outlook for the hospitality industry

When we’ve talked about working in the hospitality industry on this site, we’ve talked about chefs and bartenders but not about hotel jobs.

We’ll get to that eventually, I’m sure. Working in a hotel can be a great experience and can help you see part of the world you wouldn’t have without the hotel job. For example I have a friend / former student who lived in San Francisco for a year while working at the front desk of a hotel. Since she was Korea, I’ll have to ask her how she handled the visa stuff and taxes and everything but I do know that if it weren’t for that job she wouldn’t have been able to live in San Francisco for a year. I’ve never been to San Francisco so I’m a little bit jealous of her actually.

Anyway, I notice a lot of news articles lately about the job outlook for various industries. Well what about the hospitality industry? As of Octobver, the Utah leisure and hospitality industry had added 5100 new jobs over the past 12 months. I wouldn’t mind living in Utah for a while – I hear it’s really beautiful there. This makes perfect sense since tourists like going to nice places so the hotel jobs should be in pretty cool areas.

Tourism is actually down in the UAE but there are hotel jobs available since new hotels are being built and they need to be staffed. I know my wife has talked about living in the UAE as well. I hear it’s nice and sunny.

In a report on how British employers don’t really trust Brish employees these days, Gerwyn Davies, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said, “It is the employers’ perception that workers from Poland and Lithuania demonstrate a greater work ethic. This is particularly apparent in the hospitality sector.” It seems UK natives aren’t trusted to provide great customer service.

That report in the UK reminds me how the same has been said to be true for the hospitality industry in America. And I was told that NCL tried staffing a ship with an American workforce instead of Filipino workforce. They went back to the Filipinos.

But anyway, working in a hotel could be a good way to see a nice part of the world that you wouldn’t normally get to see and there do seem to be jobs available.

Airport Codes / World’s Newest Country / TV Travel Shows (or lack of)

One of the things I realized when I applied for and got a job with an airline almost 20 years ago, is that you did not seem to need any particular qualifications. Not even a good knowledge of geography, which I would have thought was essential. And some people certainly don’t have a good grasp of geography – these are supposedly real answers to geography questions, that were submitted. One of the biggest requirements for employment that I remember was having to learn and memorize all the airport codes for the places that the airline flew to at the time and there were probably around 200 of these. When we took the test, we had to get 100 percent, which I must have somehow done. Some codes are easy and everyone knows them, like JFK, but some are more obscure, like MSY for New Orleans. I don’t know if this is still a requirement to learn all the codes or whether it has been relaxed, but I do know that once you have memorized these codes and used them every day for years, you could not forget them if you tried.

I read a couple of weeks ago that the world has a new country, although I’m not sure I will be going there any time soon. South Sudan became its own country, breaking away from the Sudan after 50 years of struggle and apparently has plans to become a major eco-tourism destination. I found this quite surprising, as I imagine the Sudan to be nothing but barren desert, almost as much as the fact that other unlikely countries seem to want to welcome visitors. Iraq seems to have its own ministry of tourism and I would imagine that working there must be quite a challenge. It seems that there is a lot of interest in parts of California becoming their own state as well as parts of Arizona. My wife and I drove through the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona / New Mexico a few years ago and that really was like entering another country, with big signs warning that you were subject to tribal laws. That sounded quite ominous, but fortunately I never found out what the tribal laws might be.

Anyone who reads my ramblings knows that it is a source of constant frustration to me that there are so few travel shows on American TV. I am sorry to say that this is still the case and I have sent emails to the Travel Channel asking them to put more actual travel shows on (Much of their current line up is shows about food) and giving suggestions for travel programs, such as the BBC in England did a while back – great railway trips and great river journeys. Of course, they did not reply to me which makes me wonder what is the point of having a ‘contact me’ section on your web site if you are not going to reply to someone who does contact you. I really feel the President should address this issue instead of wasting his time dealing with things like health care and the economy. There is one new show on ABC, called Expedition Impossible, in which teams have to travel across Morocco, dealing with such hazards as stubborn camels, mountain ranges and extreme heat. As it is literally 100 degrees here in New Jersey today, I have some idea of how they feel, although I have yet to ride a camel.

Guest entry by Mancunian

An old friend returns and talks about flying “free”

Well, its good to be back again, blogging about travel! I wish I could explain my absence during the last year, by saying something like I was trekking through the Amazon, or cycling across the USA, but the truth is, I have just been busy with jobs, kids, moving and all the other mundane stuff of life. I have a bit more time on my hands and missed posting on here, so here I am, courtesy of Jim. Comments and suggestions are always welcome!

I am still in beautiful New Jersey and like living here, other than the fact that to leave the state you have to pay a toll to drive over the bridge to either Delaware or Pennsylvania, on some of the bridges the charge is $5. (Its worth paying to leave New Jersey, as the old joke goes) This made me wonder what the most expensive bridge or road toll is in the US and one of the most expensive must surely be the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel, (near Norfolk, VA) which costs $12 one way, although admittedly its quite a scenic journey. And I’m disappointed that I still haven’t seen the Jersey Devil, a sort of mythical creature said to live not far from here.

I no longer work in the travel business and feel that 20 years was enough of irate passengers, delayed flights, missing luggage and stupid questions! But it did occur to me that the travel industry is still considered to be exciting and glamorous and there will probably always be a place for travel agents as there are still some people out there who don’t like to book their trip on line, especially agencies that specialize in ‘complicated’ trips. So I thought I would write regularly in these pieces about what its like to work in the industry, the up and downs of working for an airline, how to go about it if the thought of working in travel appeals to you. and anything else relevant..

Of course, one of the big appeals of working for an airline is the free flights that everyone knows you get. (If I wasn’t married I would have bought one of those tee-shirts that reads “I work for an airline, marry me and fly for free!” ) In reality, the flights are not free, as I remember having to pay various taxes, processing fees, etc that sometimes seemed to be as much as the cheapest coach ticket cost. And of course, it was often difficult to get a seat on the plane, especially in markets where there was just one flight a day. I sometimes wonder how much of my life I have spent sitting anxiously by the gate, waiting for my name to be called and hear the magical sound of a a boarding pass being issued. According to my friends who still work for a major airline, it is even more difficult now to find a seat as the airlines have cut back service and introduced smaller planes on many routes. Airline employees also get discounts on other airlines, although again this is not always easy as it involves flying standby and you cannot easily check flight availability. This site at least helps to make the whole process easier, although I don’t remember this being there when I needed it. Anyway, there will be more on the ups and downs of working in the travel industry, meanwhile, as I say its good to be back on here!

Guest entry by Mancunian

Another job where you get to travel – MMA fighter

We had a little series going on jobs for travel lovers for a while with me writing about EFL jobs in Korea and a few good articles from Sharon including this one on ski instructing.

So while I’m sure it’s not a career path for most readers of this blog, I did briefly want to mention this quote from MMA fighter Carlos Condit:

“That’s the great thing about this job, you get to travel the world on somebody else’s dime,” said Condit, who in his career has fought four times in Japan and three times in Hawaii, and said he never had any problems with jet lag in those fights.

Of course in exchange for free travel you have to endure professional fighters trying to punch you, kick you, choke you, etc.

I’m not going to offer the usual advice on how to get into the field, but there is a less extreme option like various amateur tournaments, martial arts demonstrations, and so on.

Overseas Employment – Skiing & Snowboarding Instructors

Exciting job opportunities exist worldwide where skiing and snowboarding instructors are always in demand. Overseas ski resorts can be found in over 45 countries including the French, Swiss, & Italian Alps, the Pyrenees of Spain, Austria, Germany, Italy, Asia, Australia, Scandinavia, New Zealand, and South America; there are approximately 2500 in Europe alone.

The Tarentaise Valley of the Isere River in the French Alps has some popular ski resorts such as Paradiski, Les Arcs, and Les Espace Killy. Trois Vallee, considered the largest linked skiing area in the world, attracts visitors and instructors year round for piste and off-piste winter sports on its snow-covered slopes. One of the most popular resorts here is Courchevel, with its own private airport and links to other ski areas by highway. The airport is known for having one of the shortest runways in the world, a challenge for only the best certified airplane and helicopter pilots. Besides being the winter playground for travelers from Russia and elsewhere, Trois Vallee is recognized as a base for worldwide ski instructors, offering a number of jobs at various resorts.

Your first step to becoming a professional ski instructor is to complete a basic one to two week course, followed by specialized courses in alpine (downhill), piste and off-piste skiing, and cross country, usually offered by companies and resorts around the world. These courses are designed to run with the winter seasons, November to April in Europe, and April to November in the southern hemisphere. After obtaining your International Ski Instructors Association certification, you can work almost anywhere overseas, except in China. Many of these same companies and resorts will help you find employment, as well.

If time and finances permit, a short vacation might be fun and pay off in the long run by staying at one of the resorts, perfecting your skills on the slopes, making a few contacts and friends, and seeking employment at the same time. Many resorts offer hiring clinics at the beginning of the season, where they observe both your technical and interpersonal skills. Of course, a background in skiing, coaching, or physical education is always a plus, as are references.

If you prefer to pay more for specialized training, there are a number of ski and snowboard schools such as Ski le Gap at Mont Tremblant in Canada, and ski academies in Switzerland, New Zealand, and France. Intensive one to three month courses are offered for qualification at various levels of proficiency in different types of skiing or snowboarding, as well as ski patrol classes for those who may be interested in them. Costs and out-of-pocket expenses will vary, but most schools include accommodations, meals, and some even pay modest wages while in training

The popular Skiforce School is offering training in December of this year at Morzine in the Portes du Soleil ski area near Mont Blanc. Here you can get your British Association of Snowsports Instructor (BASI) certification, and after completing the BASI level 2, a full time job is guaranteed. (Note: Most ski schools will hire you as an instructor for children or beginners, but you can work up from there.)

Verbier resort in Switzerland is, without a doubt, one of the most prestigious ski and snowboarding schools in Europe, open to participants worldwide. At $14,500 for a 10-week course, it is certainly not cheap, but you do get a lot for your money. You will receive over 250 hours of coaching by some of the best instructors in the world, 75 hours in the classroom, which will include courses in first aid, avalanche, and mountain safety, and 70 hours of skiing alongside these professionals. Accommodations are provided in mountain chalets with views of the Matterhorn and surrounded by the beauty of the Swiss Alps. Breakfasts and dinners are included, as well as uniforms, cleaning, full season lift passes, club and equipment discounts, and transportation from the airport. Successful completion of internship at Verbier will definitely assure you of employment as a ski or snowboarding instructor.

(Note: You can find more information on these and other ski and snowboarding schools and job placement online.)

You won’t need a visa to work in the EU countries, but a working holiday permit will be required in others. Since the skiing seasons vary in each hemisphere, you could conceivably be employed year round. This might be the best of both worlds, seeing different areas, meeting different people, and teaching at the finest ski and snowboard resorts. After the season ends, you may decide to move on to another part of the world for their seasonal jobs, or remain at the same resort for year round employment. Although you may not be instructing during the off-season lull, there will be other types of odd jobs to fill. You may be asked to take part in pre-season events, promotions, and races to prepare for yet another enthusiastic group of travelers ready to hit the slopes with the next big snowfall.

Be prepared for the cold, fog, and wind chill by purchasing the proper clothing and equipment, as well as personal insurance in case of injury. Snow conditions will vary, so overall good physical condition is a must, and physical tests may be a requirement for employment. As a minimum, your accommodations, meals, and season lift passes will be paid for by your employers. Salaries are based on your actual teaching hours, and will vary from country to country, resort to resort, with your first year hourly pay averaging around $8 an hour, climbing to $15, or more as your experience grows and your expertise is recognized.

Don’t expect tips, but depending on the resort, you may be pleasantly surprised, as repeat customers, tour groups, and wealthy travelers are more likely to give that something extra. Besides teaching beginners, the intermediate, and the advanced, you may be required to instruct children, or the physically handicapped, which will be rewarding in itself. As with any kind of teaching job, additional money can be made through private lessons. Once recognized as a qualified, reliable instructor, you will find individuals or families may hire you as a personal instructor, which pays quite well.

For anyone who loves the mountains, the snow, and winter weather, then a job as a ski or snowboard instructor offers excitement and an opportunity to work at some of the most scenic destinations in the world. It is a chance to meet interesting people, socialize, and teach others the thrill of skiing or snowboarding at the most beautiful resorts around the world. As might be expected, social skills, a great deal of patience, and definitely a good sense of humor will be required. Remember, most people aren’t training for the Olympics; they just want to learn how to ski, improve their skills, and have fun doing it. You must be able to balance technical instruction with an understanding that some students will always be better than others. You will gain satisfaction knowing that most students will respond well to your instruction, if you’re good at what you do and enjoy what you’re doing.

Sharon L Slayton

Teaching English as a foreign language or TEFL

One way to see the world is to teach English in foreign countries. You get to experience slow travel as you spend months or even years living in each place. For example I have a friend who spent a few months teaching English in Costa Rica whereas I have been teaching English for over 9 years in South Korea. Other people stick with EFL but move around (a few years in Thailand, then Korea, then Japan, then Saudi Arabia, etc.). Some of the most common countries for EFL jobs are in Asia with Korea and Japan offering the best money. China and Thailand are very common Asian destinations for EFL teachers as well. Americans have a tough time getting jobs in EU countries as the paperwork is much easier for people from the UK.

It helps greatly if you are a native speaker of English and in some countries you can start off with just a native accent and a college degree. Korean hagwons, for example, are notorious for hiring just about any white person with a pulse.

Undergraduate degrees

There is nothing to worry about here if you already have your B.A. or B.S. degree (though you will be expected to have one – not an Associate’s). Of course if it’s not too late, education degrees are helpful. English education is a great choice, educational psychology is good, etc. Some universities even offer degrees directly related to teaching English to non native speakers – look for names like TESOL, ESL, EFL, TESL, TEFL.

Interestingly though, most EFL teachers don’t have these kinds of degrees and they really are not necessary to teach English abroad.

TESOL certificates

While not required everywhere in the world, certificates are very helpful in getting ELT (English langue teaching) jobs. If you want to work in most European countries, a 4 week certificate course or better is a necessity. The two most recognized are the CELTA and the Trinity. Both offer programs all over the world and promise that the course is standardized so you should be able to take a CELTA anywhere in the world and get an equally valuable degree.

Two of the more famous schools for the CELTA are the British Council and International House. Doing the degree course can be a travel experience in itself as both the British Council and International House have branches running the CELTA all over the world. I did mine at International House Rome – Manzoni and though I thought most of the trainers were weak educators I did learn something and I loved Rome.

If you’re not looking to teach in Europe, many universities in America and around the world offer TESOL certificates. I am a teacher trainer for the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies TESOL certificate course, a program designed for non-native speaking English teachers.

There are numerous online certificate programs but I don’t know of any that carry the same weight as offline programs (because a good offline TESOL course will include some practical teaching).

Graduate degrees

My CELTA trainers made a big deal about how in Europe schools would rather hire an inexperienced teacher with a 4 week CELTA than with a Master’s degree because the CELTA has supervised teaching practice.

I’m not sure I agree with this philosophy because I learned far more doing my Master of Applied Linguistics than I did doing my CELTA. In Asia, at least, the best positions tend to be university ones where a graduate degree is either preferred or required. Some schools will settle for any graduate degree and some don’t care what the degree is in if you are an experienced teacher. However, the best degrees are TESOL, TESL, Applied linguistics, and various education degrees.

Working conditions & salary (in Korea)

Working conditions vary widely and I’m most familiar with those in South Korea where a teacher with no experience or qualifications is looking at a hagwon job. A hagwon is a private school totally unlike private schools in America. It’s a place where kids from pre- school to high school go (after school if they are old enough for public sch0ool – hence the split shift) to get extra study time in. The schools are often run by a person who knows nothing about education and they are often small (I worked in one that had 2 Korean teachers and 3 native English speaking teachers). It’s a different culture and hard to describe.

Depending on who runs the school you may be fine or you may have a tough time. The owner of my school was a real bastard who loved me when I first arrived but began to resent me when I started spending less time with him and more time with the friends I was making. Eventually it got pretty messy with me running to my girlfriend’s (now my wife) house at 4:00 AM one morning and him threatening to hire gangsters to come after me.

Almost everyone who has been teaching in Korea for a while has a hagwon horror story – it’s just part of the experience I guess.

At a hagwon you’re usually looking at provided housing (normally shared with one or two other teachers) for a 12 month contract with airfare to Korea taken care of. You’ll likely be teaching 6 days a week, about 30 hours a week. There is often a split schedule where you work in the mornings and evenings but not in the afternoons. Pay is generally around 2 million KRW/month – recently the exchange rate has been in the 1100 to 1200 KRW / 1 USD range. People sending money home to pay off loans or whatever need to worry about exchange rate fluctuations. You can save a lot of that salary if you want because taxes are low and cost of living can be quite low, especially outside of the big cities. You usually get a week for vacation.

If you have some teaching experience and a graduate degree you may be able to land yourself a university job. Here the salary is about the same on average but the teaching load is more like 15 hours per week. Normally you’re looking at a much better schedule, often 4 days a week. Vacation will be 3-5 months and it is paid so not only do you get the travel experience of living in a foreign country but you get some time freedom to travel during the summer and winter as well. Universities usually offer housing (not shared) but many do not pay for your flight. Also, many do not do phone interviews so teachers already in Korea have more options.

Note also that salaries vary widely from the average. I have a friend who was making 10 million KRW / month at a hagwon because the owners gave him a percentage of the tuition. He eventually gave that up to make 2.5 million /month at a university for the better hours and vacation time. Professors at the bigger name universities will usually get closer to 3 million / month and sometimes far more depending on experience. The salary can be augmented by teaching private lessons where it’s hard to pin down an average but most people charge between 25,000 KRW and 100,000 KRW an hour. Teaching privates is usually not allowed (by the contract you sign with your employer and by law) but it remains very common.

Conclusion

Whether you do it for a few months or for your whole life, teaching EFL can be a rewarding way to experience other cultures.

Travel & Adventure – Overseas Jobs

Are you someone who dreams of hiking through the Amazon rainforest, climbing the mountains of Peru or Tibet, trekking across the Sahara desert, or traveling on safari through Africa? Maybe you’re an individual who seeks more excitement and adventure in a career. If this is you, then a job as a tour leader may be just your thing. Of course, if you have a family who depends on you, or a relationship that would suffer from your absence, then traipsing around the world may not be possible. But, if you are young, or young at heart, single and somewhat of a gypsy, the job of adventure tour leader certainly has its appeal.

Tour leaders are responsible for just about everything including arranging meals and accommodations, transportation, native guides and bearers. There will be daily reports to prepare, but you are your own boss, with no supervisor looking over your shoulder, staff meetings to attend, or confined space to work in. Expect to travel light; be eager and ready to go on each new day’s adventure. You should be prepared for any delays, problems, or emergencies that may occur along the way. There will be time, however, to pursue some of your own interests, reading, writing, or studies, while your group is busy taking pictures or you’re spending hours on buses, jeeps, or trains going from one place to another.

The groups on tour are usually small, about 16 people, so everyone gets involved in the activities. A tour leader must be familiar with the language and the culture of the country they visit, and be able to answer questions about the history, religion, and the people, as well. The basic job requirements are straightforward, as companies are primarily looking for people with good communication skills, entertaining and friendly personalities, patience, confidence, and proven leadership ability to ensure the group has a fun-filled, safe adventure.

Tour leaders take groups to fascinating places such as the castles in Scotland, Ireland, France, and Spain, and to the ancient ruins of civilizations in Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Central and South America. Your travel as a tour leader may take you as far as Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or Antarctica, or to the islands of the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean.

Some tours will be more demanding than others, as you may lead groups of hikers, mountain climbers, or whitewater rafters and kayakers on exciting journeys requiring considerable skill and stamina. Others will be just as interesting, but more leisurely eco-tours or sightseeing adventures to popular tourist attractions and world heritage sites throughout the world. Depending on the destination, your accommodations will vary from camping outdoors to cabins on riverboats, village hostels, and rustic lodges on mountain slopes, or just backpacking through the countryside. The more expensive tours suggest modern hotel rooms, fancier restaurants, and more amenities for you and your group.

You’ll find that the larger companies offer a much wider choice of destinations for travelers and adventure tour leaders. Companies such as Exodus, Explore, and Dragoman may look for tour leaders that meet certain age requirements and have more travel experience. Most large and small companies require standard first aid and CPR certification, and a good health record. You must pass an extensive background check, usually attend a training program within the home country, and arrange for a personal interview before you’re hired. You’ll find that only a few companies provide paid holidays and sick days; however, Intrepid based in Australia is one. Some offer some type of health insurance, but probably no retirement or pension plan. Gap Adventures out of Canada does reimburse you for airfare after completing a contract with them. You can find more information on these and other tour companies online, even applications in some cases.

Adventure tour companies may hire you for an extended contract to a specific country or region, which will require proficiency in the language spoken, especially in Central and South America, and thorough knowledge of the customs to follow while there. Or, you may be called on to travel with groups in different areas for shorter assignments, which some may consider a drawback, but it does add variety to the job. You’ll need a work permit or visa, and a driver’s license is a necessity for overland tours.

Since these are challenging jobs requiring considerable endurance and adaptability to a very transient way of life, tour leaders may choose to complete a two to three year contract, renew or sign another, or decide to settle down closer to home. A few exceptional performers may be offered permanent jobs in the administrative or business end of the company. The average monthly salary, anywhere from $800 to $1500, may not sound like a whole lot, but don’t forget the tips you’ll no doubt receive from each traveler in the tour group. You probably will receive gifts from vendors in some countries, who welcome the money your group is spending in their stores or marketplace. There are not many jobs where your expenses are usually fully covered, however, so the money you earn as a tour leader, for the most part, is free and clear. At the end of your contract, you’ll not be wealthy by any means, but you will have put aside a nice amount to take back with you.

There is a constant demand for tour leaders worldwide, as there will always be something new to discover, somewhere historic to visit, or something unusual to see awaiting travelers everywhere. As a tour leader, you’ll have a great opportunity to learn, work, travel, and play, while you become a part of life’s great adventure.

Sharon L Slayton

Careers Beneath The Sea – Underwater Photography

From the first attempts at underwater photography in the mid-1800’s, followed by others such as the renowned Jacques Cousteau, oceanographers, environmentalists, marine biologists, and scuba divers have explored and filmed the world below. A rare opportunity to capture mesmerizing images of coral reefs and changing formations, the fascinating, unusual creatures living among the crevices and caves of the sea, and more amazing discoveries in the deep awaits the underwater photographer.

Once no more than a hobby for a few, an exciting career in underwater photography has become even more popular through the years as modern equipment and advanced techniques have been introduced. Digital cameras enclosed in some type of underwater housing such as plastic or aluminum have replaced, for the most part, the cumbersome waterproof 35mm cameras used by most photographers in the past. Wide angle lenses, light filters, and powerful flashes are considered necessities today to produce good images and adapt to the limited visibility, color, and contrast as you go further down in the depths of the sea. There are excellent photography courses you can take to learn more about the complexities of underwater photography.

Underwater photography, of course, goes hand in hand with proficiency in scuba diving. You may seek employment first as a professional scuba diver to provide some income while you learn the skills required for underwater photography. Jobs are available in many countries at dive schools, resorts, and for cruise ship tours, but our focus in this article will be on underwater photography. The first requirement if you’re considering a career in underwater photography is to obtain certification by the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). Your training will begin with confined and open water courses for basic certification, and you can continue advancing to master scuba diver and divemaster in about three months. There are over 25 additional specialty courses available including buoyancy control, rescue, deep diving, cavern, night diving, and techniques of digital camera photography, all of which will further enhance your skills and assure your prospective employer of your qualifications and expertise.

You can enroll in courses online to gain some familiarity, but many job seekers may prefer to combine their travel with training that is offered at over 5,000 dive shops and dive resorts in numerous locations around the world including South Africa, New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, Hawaii, Thailand, Egypt, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Pursuing a career in underwater photography will take some money upfront, but the cost of training does vary depending on the location. Keep a record of your diving hours as part of your resume, and continue to build your portfolio. Broaden your knowledge of the sea and marine life, and learn as much as possible about the equipment you will use if you want to be a successful underwater photographer.

After you have completed the diver’s instruction courses, you are ready to find a job. Jobs are available for instructors in underwater photography, on assignment with National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and scuba magazines, as well as for TV programs such as Discovery and Animal Planet. At some time, but certainly not overnight, there may be opportunities to work in the motion picture industry. Once you are recognized as an expert in your field, the sky’s the limit in your career, with some professionals earning as much as $1,500 a day. Underwater photography is challenging, and perhaps not as safe as staying on dry land with your camera and tripod by your side. The more risk involved with the videography of what lies beneath the sea, the better the salary; however, you can expect some strong competition for such high paying jobs.

Some underwater photographers find exciting careers in filming shipwrecks for deep sea explorers, salvage companies, and adventurers on scientific and historical expeditions looking for sunken treasure, lost ships, and artifacts. Of course, these jobs will require more expensive equipment, which may or may not be provided by the employer, and considerably more experience in underwater photography and deep water diving ability to deal with the dim light and decreased visibility near the ocean floor.

Several overseas companies can be found online that offer on the job training, or you can apply as an assistant to an established professional in the field. Another option is to contract as a freelancer with an independent agent or photographer, create your own website, or register with one that will offer your photographs for sale and give you a commission. This may not provide much income, however, but it is a start and a way to get exposure and hopefully an offer for long-term permanent employment. As you gain experience and add to your photography portfolio, travel assignments will be more plentiful, and many will offer generous salaries and benefits for your services.

The unusual life style of a career beneath the sea may have been something you thought about, but really didn’t know where to begin. If you already have a genuine interest in photography, whether as an amateur or a professional, with the proper equipment, motivation, and expert training, underwater photography can be an interesting and rewarding career.

Sharon Slayton

Let me just take a few lines to thank Sharon for all the great articles she has been writing for us. Also, I’ll add my comment on this one – despite what I wrote before about childhood dreams of a career in underwater photography, I’m not ready to change careers just yet.

Yachting – Careers At Sea

Many of us, at one time or another, will look for something different in the way of employment, to escape from the tedium of paying rent, fighting traffic and crowds, and just managing to get by on a paycheck that is never quite enough. We may be lured by the “call of the sea and the vagrant gypsy life” that Masefield spoke of in his poem “Sea-Fever.” Owning a yacht is a rich man’s dream, but working on one is an adventure that can be a well-paid reality for some. Although much has changed since the sailing days of Masefield and others before him, distant places and foreign shores still hold a fascination for world travelers today.

Yachting and careers at sea offer excitement and an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. Your working environment can be compared to a floating hotel, where you are surrounded by luxury and ultra-modern conveniences. You can forget paying exorbitant airline fees and transportation costs, finding accommodations, and deciding what and where to eat, once you’re hired, onboard, and heading out to sea. Crew members and deck hands will find their jobs are demanding ones, however, as yacht passengers and owners are used to the finer things, expecting not only the best, but sometimes the impossible. True enough, there is not a whole lot of privacy, but there are other benefits worth considering.

Yachting has several advantages over cruise ship employment, with fewer guests to please and a smaller crew to work with. The pay will vary, but will usually be more than on large cruise ships, and the tips will be quite generous. These are definitely not 9 to 5 jobs; you’ll work hard and your duties may go beyond a set routine or job description, but once in port there will be time to relax or go ashore. Of course, one real plus is the variety in these jobs, which you will gain from experience, the possibility of working for more than one employer, and the interaction with a diverse group of people, as you travel to unusual places.

You can find jobs on all types of sailing vessels, from the smaller charter boats to the super yachts of the rich and famous, many of which are privately owned or managed by large corporations. Yachting to different countries and destinations are usually planned for different times of the year, based on the weather. Yachting points of departure can be found in the Caribbean, Mexico, the South Atlantic, and South Africa from January through March. Yachts leave frequently from ports on the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean in the months of April through July, and from both the South and North Pacific, and the South and North Atlantic countries from September through December. Being in the right area at the right season is important, as jobs will be more readily available when yachting ventures are planned. Many agencies and other resources can be found online that will provide more information and assistance in training and job placement.

From captains, engineers, and mates to deckhands, chefs, and stewards or stewardesses, all do require varying levels of experience, training, certification, and licensing. Depending on the size of the yacht, a qualified pilot may be hired by the owner(s), although usually this comes under the duties of captain, who carries a great deal of responsibility for the ship and crew based on his years of sailing experience. Occasionally, the job of purser may be available on the very luxurious yachts with a larger payroll and more guests to account for. Jobs are sometimes available for couples on the same ship, as well.

There are a number of training centers for yachting careers in various countries, such as Australia, the south of France, South Africa, and Florida. Since the UK is perhaps the best known for their noteworthy maritime history, we can use their guide as an example of some qualifications that are needed for employment on a yacht. If you’re a beginner and considering a career in yachting, you will need to complete several basic Standard of Training Certificates and Watch Keeping (STCW) courses, which were established by the International Maritime Association. They include first aid, survival training, and fire and safety responsibility and can be completed in 5 days or less. Some yacht owners will prefer to do their own training and will hire deckhands and other crew members with little or no experience. A certificate of competency, issued by the prestigious Royal Yachting Association (RYA), is sometimes requested as it demonstrates your specialized skills in boat handling. For yachting jobs as stewards or stewardesses, you will need to complete some hospitality courses in the basics of managing and maintaining the interior of the yacht, serving food, and wine appreciation.

The Yacht Rating Certificate, indicating an advanced level of training, may be required for each crew member hired on a yacht. This provides proof of 6 months of onboard yacht experience, 2 months at sea, completion of basic courses, and medical certification for seagoing employment. You may gain some of this experience through short voyages, weekend excursions, and racing regattas, so it is important that you keep a logbook of the miles you do spend at sea, as this will help in finding permanent, long term employment.

You must be personable, like people, and love sailing to succeed in a yachting career. Visas for travel will be required by your employer, who will also act as your sponsor in obtaining a work permit once you’re hired. It is always helpful to be familiar with one or more foreign languages, understand the computer, and know something about mechanics and plumbing, but above all, be adaptable to changes in weather and flexible in dealing with the unexpected. Owning a yacht is something most people can only dream about, but working and traveling on one is a very real and possible career for those who seek an unforgettable experience and adventure at sea.

Sharon L. Slayton

Hospitality Overseas – Professional Chefs

The idea of haute cuisine dates back to the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, with the French taking the lead as Marie-Antoine CarÄ“me became known as the “King of Chefs.” Professional chefs, at this time, were considered a privilege of royalty and the nouveau riche, where each tried to outdo the other in the preparation and intricate display of elaborate feasts. Of course, professional chefs today can be found at restaurants, hotels, resorts and spas, lodges, cruise ships, private yachts, and in the military, as well as on the personal staff of presidents, prime ministers, kings, and queens. Fine dining establishments will attribute much of their popularity and success to the reputation of an excellent chef. Many wealthy families and celebrities bring their own personal chef or chefs with them when they travel. Your services may also be needed by catering companies for banquets, special occasions, conferences, and other large gatherings.

At this point, we might make a simple distinction between a chef and a cook – “all chefs are cooks, but not all cooks are chefs.” The chef is the “chief” and head of his kitchen staff and holds a highly respected position and title based on his experience, training, and expertise in the culinary arts. Often referred to as the head chef, executive chef, or in France as the chef de cuisine, his or her duties can range from preparing menus, ordering food, and supervising its preparation to hiring and firing of the staff and the overall management, arrangement, and presentation of meals.

An apprentice, or commis, to the head chef may be hired during or after completing training, and usually works directly under the chef de partie, or in a particular section of the kitchen. Professional chefs in Europe must complete a total of 4 years of training, with salary commensurate with their level or stage Formal training is usually for 2 years, and then an apprenticeship for another 1 to 3 years, depending upon individual motivation and ability. Some obtain employment that allows them to attend culinary school in their off-duty hours, while gaining valuable hands-on experience at the same time.

Kitchens in large restaurants that cater to a huge clientele will have several chefs, each assigned and often ranked in their particular specialty such as the top position of saucier, where the sauce may be the pièce de resistance, poissonier or preparer of fish, the rotisseur expert on meat, and the patissier who prepares those delectable pastries and desserts. The sous chef is the second in command, working directly under the head chef, supervising the specialty chefs, and filling in for special events, absences, or on many other occasions. Although the actual title and specialty may differ, there is considerable prestige associated with the position of a professional chef, and employment can be found in most every country in the world.

You will need either a college diploma or a degree and certification in culinary arts to work abroad and demonstrate your proficiency as a professional chef. Culinary arts schools can be found online and worldwide, with beginning courses in preparation of hors d’oeuvres, sandwiches, salads, and even ice carving. You will learn how to use the equipment, to coordinate the kitchen staff with the dining room servers, and to prepare a variety of styles and types of food such as Italian, Portuguese, Slavic, Asian, Greek, and French. Your training will include creating simple menus including a la carte, appetizers, entrees, and desserts, while the advanced classes may focus on international wine appreciation, buffet and table presentation, as well as the storage and quality standards required by different countries.

As might be expected, Paris is a well known city for culinary schools such as the Ecole du Cordon Bleu, the Ritz Escoffier, a good choice for those who do not speak French, and the L’Atelier de Chefs, which offers 2-hour classes at a reasonable price of 34 Euros. Many other cooking classes are offered as a part of a tour through certain countries such as France, Italy, and Spain; however, these can be expensive and might be considered only as something extra to add to your experience. Le Cordon Blue International is probably the best known cooking school with campuses worldwide including London, Mexico City, and Australia.

The exclusive Tante Marie cooking school in Woking, England, about a 25-minute train ride from London, is famous throughout the world for professional chefs’ training with locations in numerous countries. Students receive the Cordon Bleu Diploma after completing 2 to 3 terms of 11 weeks each and are then eligible for the advanced level 4 diploma. Scholarships are available, and they offer 2-week specialty chef courses for around 300 Euros. Although their schools are expensive, about $22,000 U.S., they do have important contacts in the industry and offer professional advice and assistance in placing their students with well known hotels and restaurants. Students do not reside at the school, but a list of host families, self-catering accommodations, and various B&Bs nearby is available. Less expensive culinary schools can also be found in Scotland, India, the U.S, Europe, Asia, and Canada, with many offering job placement worldwide. Some exemplary students may be fortunate enough to be hired to work with a team of chefs in one of the many Gordon Ramsay establishments around the world.

There is a huge demand for chefs worldwide from Japan to Africa and New Zealand, with employers offering various benefits to potential employees such as paying your travel expenses. Working hours and conditions for professional chefs will depend on the establishment where you’re hired, and the salary can vary within each country according to your experience and level of training. Most chefs are somewhere between the ages of 25 and 35, having taken time to acquire the proper training and experience, considerably more to be considered a Master Chef. This occupation does attract women, as well, although they are in the minority. The Internet is a good source for finding schools and long-term employment for professional chefs. There are a number of international organizations for professional chefs such as the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the World Association of Chefs Societies.

You may not achieve the worldwide recognition of Emeril Lagasse or Wolfgang Puck, but if you are eager, creative, and skilled in the art of cookery, there is certainly money to be made abroad as a professional chef.

(Note: I discovered an interesting bit of information while writing this article. In Buddhist monasteries, the chef is known as a “tenzo” or “heavenly monk,” and holds a very important, highly esteemed position within the monastic order.)

Sharon L. Slayton