How to Become a Travel Agent in California
Travel agents in CA plan business and leisure trips for clients across the state.
If you’re well-traveled, have exceptional customer service skills, and enjoy planning vacations and events, this career path may be perfect for you.
Begin the journey to becoming a California travel agent by completing the right training program and obtaining an official certification.
Education and Training
Those wondering how to become travel agents in California need a diploma or GED to meet the minimum educational requirements for workers in the tourism industry. From there, you must complete on-the-job training or enroll in a certificate, diploma, or degree program at a California trade school or community college.
On-the-Job Travel Agent Training
Some travel agencies are willing to hire and train inexperienced employees. Many of these companies have their own learning modules that entry-level workers must complete before they can work with clients independently. New hires typically learn the following after obtaining travel agent jobs in California:
- Company-specific scripts to use when talking to clients on the phone and via email
- How to fill in travel itinerary templates
- Sales techniques for offering travel insurance and up-selling travel packages
Travel Agent Schools in California
Aspiring travel agents in CA might prefer to enroll in an accredited training program to gain a more in-depth understanding of the travel and tourism industry.
Courses at a travel agent school might include classes like:
- Basic geography
- Domestic and international travel regulations
- Airline, cruise line, and hotel pricing
- Itinerary planning
- Recordkeeping and organization practices
- Travel industry networking and partnerships
- Customer service and communication
- Sales and marketing techniques
- Intercultural communication and international business basics
If you’re planning to start your own travel agency, you can also take business classes to learn the accounting, human resources, and advertising skills you need. Other hospitality and tourism courses might be a good idea if you hope to form business connections with luxury resorts, hotels, and airlines.
How Long is Travel Agent School?
Program lengths for aspiring travel agents in CA vary by institution. You might earn your travel agent certificate in as little as six weeks. However, some programs might take eighteen weeks or even a full year to complete. Those who are pursuing hospitality and tourism degrees complete their courses in two, four, or six years, depending on the program they choose.
How Much is Travel Agent School in CA?
Most aspiring travel agents in CA pay between $300 and $900 to complete their certificate programs. Some online courses might cost closer to $200. If you enroll in a four-year degree program, you might pay as much as $50,000 or more in tuition, books, and fees.
California Travel Agent Requirements
Although unlicensed individuals can qualify for travel agent jobs in California, having an official certification can make it easier to find well-paying positions in the industry. You might be able to complete a certification exam and earn your credentials through your employer.
However, many aspiring travel agents in CA get certified through one of the following agencies:
- The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA)
- The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)
- National Travel
- The International Air Transport Association (IATA)
- The Travel Agent Campus
- The Travel Institute
Seller of Travel Registration
All travel agencies and travel agents in CA must register with the California Attorney General to become authorized Sellers of Travel. To complete your registration, you must take the following steps:
- Complete a California Seller of Travel Registration Application
- Pay a $100 registration fee.
- Submit your registration fee and application to the Seller of Travel Program at the Attorney General’s office.
- Wait one to three weeks to receive your California Seller of Travel Certificate by mail.
Who Needs to Register?
Those hoping to start their own travel agencies or work as freelancers will need to complete this registration process before they can legally operate in the state of California. If you plan on applying for entry-level travel agent jobs in California, use the Seller Search feature on the Department of Justice website to determine whether each potential employer has the proper registration.
Travel Agent Salaries in CA
How Much Can You Make?
While the average travel agent salary in California is about $52,540, wages vary across different agencies and travel companies. Your earnings also depend on which part of the state you live in. Take a look at the list below to discover regional wage information for travel agents in CA:
- Los Angeles $51,052
- San Francisco $53,431
- Anaheim $47,453
- San Diego $48,457
- Oakland $54,878
- Sacramento $47,999
A California travel agent with a hospitality or tourism degree may be able to negotiate a higher wage than a candidate with a certificate or diploma. High-end resorts and travel agencies typically pay these professionals more than the average salary since they work with exclusive clientele, booking luxury vacations and business trips.
What Do They Do?
Whether they work at an agency or offer freelance services from their own homes, travel agents in CA must perform the following tasks to ensure client satisfaction:
- Gather information about the client’s travel plans, including whether their trip is for business or pleasure
- Research destinations, transportation, and lodgings that fit within the traveler’s budget
- Create an itinerary or activities to suit the client’s needs
- Offer travel packages from a particular network of hotel, resort, airline, and cruise line partners
- Collect the client’s passport and other travel document information for international trips
- Recommend travel insurance options
- Book flights and accommodations for the traveler
- Purchase event tickets, plan activities, and make restaurant reservations depending on the traveler’s needs
- Arrange tour guide and interpreter services as needed
- Maintain contact with the traveler throughout their trip
Job opportunities for travel agents in the U.S. are likely to increase by about 20 percent over the next ten years. As a result, qualified travel agents in CA may have an easier time finding well-paying jobs with local and national travel agencies. Those who struggle to find travel agent jobs in California might consider applying for concierge, tour guide, or hotel and restaurant manager positions.