Professional Tourism and Hospitality Training

Professional tourism training can occur through your employer or company or you may choose to pursue training on your own. Many employers provide on-going training in the workplace. Some companies offer both mandatory and optional professional development courses and programs.

Training may also be offered through the community or industry. Community programs include courses and workshops, several of which are mandatory for certain occupations. Community colleges, associations or organizations offer the Foodsafe and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) programs and some workplace safety, first aid, and responsible alcohol service programs.

Training can be short- or long-term:

  • a few hours of professional development training, e.g., demonstration of how to cook a new menu item or a service excellence workshop
  • a few weeks of formal training, e.g., bartending school
  • a few months of intense training, e.g., flight attendant training school
  • several years of education, e.g., Bachelor's Degree in Tourism Management, Master's Degree in Tourism Marketing

Industry programs include those offered by professional associations and government or tourism departments, and can be anything from an annual tourism conference to speakers, presentations or workshops. National, provincial and territorial tourism education councils/associations also offer seminars, service excellence workshops, and emerit national occupational standards, emerit certification and recognition opportunities, and online training.

Professional Tourism Industry Training

If you know what kind of tourism work you want to do, check out the emerit website for information on steps to improve your qualifications for your job. emerit offers training products and programs for the tourism sector based on industry-defined standards. These training products and programs are recognized across Canada. The range of emerit training products is very diverse, covering many professional jobs in the tourism sector. emerit certification is developed by industry professionals in Canada and is recognized across the country.

As an employee or a tourism sector student, you will gain valuable skills and new opportunities. Candidates who seek the emerit credential must have the required experience, pass a multiple-choice exam and demonstrate mastery of their occupation through an on-the-job performance evaluation.

emerit training resources are available online. The emerit website describes its training products, including National Occupational Standards, Training Tools, and Certification.

Red Seal

If you work in a regulated trade, you may require “Red Seal” trade certification to work in your field. (In the tourism sector, this is mainly chefs, cooks and bakers.) To learn more about the Canadian national trade certification program, you can visit the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program website.

Online Training

The emerit Web site offers a “one-stop-shop” for information on training and professional recognition, in both French and English. It’s a learning resource for sector professionals, with online training in flexible, interactive, modularized formats for selected occupations, and online exams for over 25 occupations, from Front Desk Agent to Casino Dealer to Food and Beverage Manager.

Professional Credentials

Through emerit, as a frontline employee, you're eligible for the Tourism Certified Professional (TCP) designation. As a Supervisor you can achieve the Tourism Certified Supervisor (TCS) designation and as a Manager, you are eligible for the Tourism Certified Manager (TCM) designation. Since every emerit certified tourism professional earns the right to display their credentials on their business cards and résumés, Professional Certification truly sets you apart.

A professional association, such as the Canadian Federation of Chefs and Cooks, may offer credentials (such as Red Seal for Chefs). Some credentials (such as Canadian Commercial Pilot Licence) are offered or required by licensing or regulatory agencies. For more information, contact the association or organization in which you are interested and ask them for details.


Many provinces/territories have tourism-related apprenticeships available. Apprenticeship involves a combination of on-the-job training and practice, along with qualified technical instruction from an educational institution.

Apprenticeships vary from two to five years. On completion, a person receives a Certificate of Qualification and the right to be called a journeyperson. As with national certification, completing an apprenticeship improves skills, fosters commitment and pride in work and the sector, and may boost eligibility for pay increases or promotion. Contact your regional Apprenticeship branch for more information.

Secondary Schools/High Schools

Tourism-related courses and programs may be available within the secondary school curriculum or at technical or vocational high schools. These often include cooking programs, tourism programs (like the three-year Canadian Academy of Travel and Tourism program), and business or co-operative education programs. Programs with a work experience component are helpful, as they develop useful work-related skills, develop résumé material, and apply work hours to future certification or apprenticeship. The availability of these programs will vary widely from region to region. Some programs are available to adults as well as to secondary school students. Contact your provincial/territorial education department for more information.

Short Term and Private Post-Secondary Schools

Many training schools offer education and training programs in tourism. Some schools offer short (a few days to a few weeks) employment preparation programs; others offer programs two years or more in length.

emerit National Occupational Standards are detailed descriptions of the knowledge, skills and attitude required of a tourism professional to be considered competent in the occupation. Standards are developed by tourism sector professionals who work in the occupation. Currently there are more than 50 occupational standards available through emerit tourism training. Standards are mainly used as an on-the-job reference for those employed in an industry. However, they are also an excellent resource for those who are seriously considering a career in one of the occupations for which standards exist. They can be used to help individuals determine their own level of competency before applying for a position, and they can help to identify career paths within the sector.

emerit National Professional Certification is a process that evaluates an individual's knowledge, attitude and skills as measured against the national standards. Certification is open to those who work in the sector, and can be challenged while working on the job. There are currently more than 26 tourism occupations available for emerit National Professional Certification.

Employees who successfully complete the certification process achieve professional recognition, generally enjoy increased pride and job satisfaction, and have the satisfaction of knowing that they have improved their abilities and are recognized by the sector. Since they have shown improved skills and abilities, they may also receive an increase in salary or be considered for promotion. Professional Certification is the pinnacle credential available to industry professionals, but it is not the only one. emerit tourism training is structured in a manner that recognizes and rewards people at various stages in their professional development.

If you would like to gain more knowledge about the tourism sector before you enter the workforce, please check out the Tourism Essentials training and certificate. It gives you the knowledge and attitudes required in any tourism-related occupation and is full of practical information that will help any entry-level employee to offer quality service.

If you are interested in becoming a Supervisor in any area of tourism, you may want to consider being trained as a Tourism Supervisor. Learn more about the emerit Tourism Supervisor training program and professional certification.