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TPG got into the points and miles game at a very young age, and a number of our readers are following suit. We have a number of high school and college students in the TPG Lounge on Facebook, and a handful have asked for suggestions on career options that involve a lot of travel. To that end, here are some of the best suggestions from our TPG Lounge members as well as our own research.

While other guides may suggest pursuing a lifestyle of travel by Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) or becoming an Instagram influencer, we decided to focus on career paths that are most likely to earn you that coveted status on the company dime.

One caveat: One of the highest-profile careers in the travel industry actually won’t earn you airline status. Working for an airline will get you phenomenal travel benefits, including free or deeply discounted flights for you, and buddy passes for a number of designated family members and companions. But no, you won’t hold that coveted top elite status except on flights you purchase on an airline that doesn’t employ you, like everyone else. In fact, your “free” travel will usually require you to wait on standby, and be prioritized below any paid fare. However, your constant stays around the world could help you earn lifetime status with hotels very quickly — not a bad consolation prize.

Some of the more obvious career paths that will earn you airline status within a year include:

1. Management Consulting

Management consulting is usually the first option mentioned in conjunction with careers that involve travel with airline, hotel, and rental car status. Just how much travel do these jobs entail?

“Almost any major consulting firm (Deloitte, McKinsey, Bain, etc.) will require a lot of travel, although fairly repetitive. Most of those firms have a 4/1 or 3/2 structure (4 days in the client office, 1 day in your home office) that mean you’ll be traveling every week. But you’ll be traveling to the same place every week (most likely) for the duration of your project. Big accounting firms like Ernst&Young can also have a fairly heavy travel schedule, especially around corporate tax season.” – Tracy V.

As a bonus for status chasers: Many of the top consulting firms have corporate contracts with airlines that may allow you to skip status-match challenges.

“If you work for a large company that has millions of dollars in the travel budget, make sure you reach out to your corporate travel agent and see if any agreements for status have been negotiated,” says TPG writer Richard Kerr. “… A registration form for Deloitte had the option to skip a Delta challenge and be matched for a one-year period straight away by showing a competitor’s status.”

Typical skillset desired: Top grades from a well-ranked university; a business or comparable professional degree, or relevant years of work experience; MBAs preferred.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; hotel stays; rental cars; corporate travel discounts; credit card spend

Management consulting is one of the top professions that requires travel.
Management consulting is one of the top professions that requires travel. Image by StockFinland/Getty Images

2. Auditor

While internal and external auditor roles differ in terms of who they report to, the overall objective is the same: Ensuring that companies are operating at peak potential by monitoring company-wide compliance, safety guidelines, and safety standards. For corporations with a lot of branch offices, achieving this goal means many miles on the road and in the air.

Internal Audit with any large company usually means a significant amount of travel. It’s also a good entry point for recent grads. – Tom S., TPG Lounge reader

Typical skillset desired: Top grades from a well-ranked university; numbers-related undergraduate degree.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; hotel stays; rental cars; corporate travel discounts; credit card spend

3. Corporate Recruiter

The Points Guy himself began his career recruiting for financial firm Morgan Stanley, logging thousands of travel miles and millions of points each year flying across the nation to host networking events. You may be required to utilize the firm’s internal booking agent or a corporate credit card for booking travel. However, most will still allow you to add your own frequent flyer number and known traveler number for TSA Precheck. So you might not be able to rack up 500,000 points in spend per year, but you will earn credit (and status) for every mile you travel.

Typical skillset desired: Strong people-facing skills; a communications- or business-related degree, or relevant years of work experience.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; hotel stays; rental cars; corporate travel discounts; credit card spend

4. National Sales

Sales is an industry where meeting face-to-face will always hold value. Not only will you develop valuable career skills in this field, you could very well end up traveling to a region over and over again as part of your sales territory, or criss-crossing the country or even the globe to meet your clients.

Tip: Tech start-ups are always hiring for talented sales people… and many newer companies don’t have established travel policies. So if you can prove a strong case for you to travel out to a client, you most likely will be able to book the trip on your own card, and submit an expense report for reimbursement later.

My wife and I have a friend who is in national sales and leasing, and he is all over the U.S. – Fred M.

Typical skillset desired: Strong people-facing skills; grit; determination.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; hotel stays; rental cars; corporate travel discounts; credit card spend

5. Corporate Event Planner

Corporate event planners often fly out several times a month to monitor company-sponsored functions on-location. Depending on the company or agency you work for, you may be able to charge corporate expenses to your personal card for later reimbursement.

I did corporate events for a tech company and was traveling 25%-50% of the time. – Kalis K.

Typical skillset desired: Strong people-facing skills; ability to handle constant change and various decision-makers; organizational and time management skills.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; hotel stays; rental cars; corporate travel discounts; credit card spend

Serving in the military can take you around the world. Image by Caiaimage/Chris Ryan for Getty Images.
Serving in the military can take you around the world. Image by Caiaimage/Chris Ryan/Getty Images


6. Military or Civil Service

A number of TPG Lounge readers shared their travel opportunities with the military: “I’ve seen most of Europe, Africa, Caribbean and Asia with the Army”, said Payem A.

Even if you aren’t deployed overseas, you can still maximize your earning opportunities within official travel guidelines. Nine-year veteran naval officer and TPG contributor Richard Kerr published an extremely comprehensive guide of regulations for government travel in September 2017.

Typical skillset desired: Passion; commitment; patriotism.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; military discounts; additional baggage allowance

7. Travel Agent or Tour Operator

The sky is the limit for creative careers within the global tourism industry, which is worth over $7.6 trillion USD as of 2016, and opportunities have skyrocketed in recent years.

Bespoke travel is one such recent niche, where travelers looking for something a little off the beaten path can turn to small-scale travel agents, who compile arrival-to-departure itineraries filled with unique experiences custom-tailored to the client’s interests. Destination yoga retreats are rising in popularity, while motorsport fanatics pay top dollar for VIP experiences at the Monaco Grand Prix or race supercars through the Icelandic Highlands. Some expats have found ways to fund their overseas lifestyles by introducing local culture to visiting tourists over half-day foodie tours.

Within the TPG Lounge, we’ve even found a number of travel agents who focus on finding great award flights for busy travelers.

“I love helping people book their award flights. I have some clients who pay a small monthly fee or yearly fee who do a lot of points travel, and I have others who don’t travel as frequently, but still like to use points for travel. I charge a per trip booking fee.”Dallin H.

Typical skillset desired: Proficiency with travel booking tools and software; creativity in planning unique travel experiences; ability to resolve last-minute changes and emergencies; fluency in one or more foreign languages.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; hotel stays; rental cars; corporate travel discounts; credit card spend; schedule flexibility

Tour operators lead trips to beautiful destinations like Cheow Lan Lake in Suratthani, Thailand. Image by Thatree Thitivongvaroon/Getty Images
Tour operators lead trips to beautiful destinations like Cheow Lan Lake in Suratthani, Thailand. Image by Thatree Thitivongvaroon/Getty Images

 

The following jobs may not as readily present themselves as mileage-earning opportunities, but some careful planning can easily result in thousands of miles.

1. Digital Nomad

“Learn coding and become a ‘digital nomad’. You can check out r/digitalnomad on Reddit. Accommodation — hotels and apartments — is much cheaper in much of the world, so not only can you travel the world, but you can also spend less money.” – Anthony L.

A number of websites connect digital nomads with companies seeking to hire. Check out Facebook groups for remote jobs, or websites RemoteJobs.comRemote.coWe Work Remotely in addition to the usual job sites such as Monster or Indeed.

Since living abroad has both advantages as well as drawbacks, make sure to research expat award travel best practices in order to maximize your points and miles strategy.

Typical skillset desired: Expertise in an online field such as programming, SEO/AdWords, or social media marketing

Travel perks: International flights; Airbnb stays; credit card spend; schedule flexibility

2. Researcher

If you make it through the grind of earning your Ph.D, there could be a significant amount of travel in your future. Academic, scientific, and medical researchers often find themselves circling the globe to promote or pursue their work, while archaeologists travel to dig sites around the world.

“150k miles per year. Projects in Africa, Asia. Of course, you need a Ph.D and postdoc… or a medical degree.” –  Jonathan M.

Typical skillset desired: Post-graduate degree/Ph.D; academic area of research

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; credit card spend

Professional photographers get to see - and capture - some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Image by Caiaimage/Anna Wiewiora/Getty Images
Professional photographers get to see – and capture – some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Image by Caiaimage/Anna Wiewiora/Getty Images


3. Photographer/Videographer

I am a wedding cinematographer who films mostly destination weddings, so I fly almost weekly. I’ve been [executive platinum with American Airlines] for 4 years now, and this year for the first time I’ll also be [Southwest Airlines] A-List. Also Marriott/SPG Platinum. Because I am self-employed, I make sure I always fly either AA or SWA, and definitely strategize making sure I hit status every year. The perks are worth it to me. – Julie H.

Photographers and videographers are increasingly in demand these days as Internet content calls for arresting images. Within the industry, the diversity is as limitless as the scenery: Destination wedding photographers may average tens of thousands of miles per year, while travel photographers can go as far as their budgets or clients will fund.

National Geographic photographers and other photojournalists often work on a freelance assignment basis, which offers a lot of earning opportunity with the right credit card strategy.

Humanitarian photographers and veteran travelers Esther Havens and Austin Mann each log well over 100,000 miles a year portraying cultures around the globe; in fact, the couple got engaged in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) last year, because it was the only opportunity within several weeks for their schedules to overlap. 

Typical skillset desired: Experience with still and video cameras; image and video editing software experience

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; hotel or Airbnb stays; rental cars; credit card spend; schedule flexibility

4. Travel Nurse

A growing shortage of nurses in the US allows nurses with wanderlust to see many different parts of the country or world without jeopardizing their careers. Three-month work contracts offer schedule flexibility, and regions with more desperate need will often offer very competitive pay to attract qualified nurses.

Natalie Nguyentham, MSN, became interested in travel nursing while working in Austin and earning her master’s in nursing. Travel nurses at the hospital where she worked directed her to a Facebook group called The Gypsy Travel Nurse, which became one of her biggest resources for finding her current agency and work contract. “The nursing community is so awesome,” Nguyentham said. “Everyone’s watching each other’s backs, supporting everyone else in this group. A lot of people share a ton of resources on agencies, pay rates and short-term housing options.”

Typical skillset desired: Undergraduate degree in nursing; a master’s degree and additional certifications are preferred. At least two years’ experience is highly recommended. References, background check, and drug screening required for each contract.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; housing stipend; credit card spend; schedule flexibility

Usa. New York. New York City.
Your new business could launch your airline status alongside your career. Photo by Buena Vista Images/Getty Images

5. Entrepreneur

New companies can rack up significant bills courting potential clients and investors, setting up office space and utilities, and advertising online. But the Chase Ink Business Preferred offers some of the best reward earning potential for small business owners, with 3x points in several categories, including travel and office supplies up to the first $150,000 spent per year. Employers can also add cards for authorized users, meaning that every dollar your employees spend on the company dime will go toward your stash of points.

“Cofounder of the only filet mignon beef jerky company (and shark tank alum!). Travel about 150k miles per year, and that number is                        growing. Fortunate to have booked a Round the World honeymoon in first and biz for later in the year, with all of the points and miles                      accumulated over the past few years!!” – Daniel F.,

Typical skillset desired: Start-up experience; chutzpah; grit

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; hotel and Airbnb stays; rental cars; credit card spend; schedule flexibility

6. International school teacher

Teaching abroad often brings to mind part-time teachers preparing English as a Second Language classes in Asia, while taking a gap year between college and a corporate job. But many private K-12 schools overseas offer competitive packages for potential teachers, while education-based organizations often look for staff to manage programs based in desirable study-abroad countries. Furthermore, working around a school schedule offers a lot of schedule flexibility to explore the regions near your school in more depth.

As with digital nomads, expats will need to utilize slightly different strategies in order to maximize award travel opportunity from an overseas base.

Typical skillset desired: Undergraduate degree; education certifications and teaching experience; master’s degree or higher highly preferred.

Travel perks: Domestic and/or international flights; housing stipend; credit card spend; schedule flexibility

Athletic scouts spend months on the road to determine the top athletes to recruit next season. Image by Hero Images/Getty Images
Athletic scouts spend months on the road to determine the top athletes to recruit next season. Image by Hero Images/Getty Images

7. Athletic Scout

Athletic scouts spend most of their work time sniffing out new talent online and in person, constantly seeking the best new athletes for the organizations they represent, on a collegiate or professional level. Although technology increasingly plays a role in tracking athlete stats or making highlight reels easier to access, this field still calls for human scouts to travel all over the country to make in-person assessments regarding whether or not a player would make a good culture fit for the team they join.

Typical skillset desired: Past athletic experience; in-depth knowledge of one or more sports; understanding of statistics

Travel perks: Domestic flights; hotel stays; rental cars

8. Nanny

These aren’t your middle-school babysitting jobs. Top-paid au pairs in New York, London, and other major cities can command six-figure salaries with benefits and perks to boot, and often include travel as part of their job description as well. Some nannies also serve as a de facto household manager for the families they work for, booking all travel and paying for daily activities and getting reimbursed afterward.

In fact, this might be another role where you might not even earn airline status: Catherine, a 29-year-old nanny out of Bedford, NY, told Swaay that “Private travel is pretty great. It’s hard to go back to flying commercial when you’re used to having a jet all to yourself. I’ve seen more places than I ever would have been able to on my own, and in the most amazing ways.”

“Specialist nannies are definitely more in demand,” Debbie Salter, managing director of London-based nanny agency Greycoat Lumleys, told the Scotsman this month. “Some people are looking for nannies who specialise in babies, or twins, whereas nannies for older children are expected to be a tutor as well as a nanny, or a housekeeper. They have to be multiskilled.”

These days, fluency in multiple languages is a huge selling point for families looking for high-end child care. So if you speak Mandarin, French, or Italian, dust off your resume – your bilingual skills will give you an edge against your competitors.

Typical skillset desired: CPR/first aid certification for children; early childhood education experience or certification; patience and flexibility; experience with children

Travel perks: Domestic and international flights; free housing; credit card spend

Featured photo by Weerasak Saeku/Getty Images

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