How to Become a Travel Agent in Illinois
Travel agent jobs in Illinois are an excellent fit for friendly, organized individuals who enjoy helping others and planning trips.
Completing a company-sponsored training course or accredited educational program can help you learn the skills you need to become a successful travel agent in IL.
Education and Training
If you want to become a travel agent in Illinois, you have two options to choose from. You can either get a job at a local travel agency and learn the tools of the trade through on-the-job training or enroll in an accredited educational program at an Illinois trade school or community college.
On-the-Job Travel Agent Training
During on-the-job training, aspiring travel agents in IL typically learn how to use particular software programs, marketing techniques, and itinerary templates to plan trips for business and leisure travelers. You might also learn to up-sell certain travel packages and insurance features in order to earn commissions from company partners.
Travel Agent School
Enrolling in a training program at an accredited school allows you to learn the tools of the trade from industry professionals and might make it easier to qualify for higher-paying travel agent jobs in Illinois.
Instructors at travel agent schools usually teach the following classes:
- Travel Planning
- Communication and Sales
- Advanced Marketing Techniques
- Travel Safety and Regulations
- International Travel
- Fundamentals of Hospitality and Tourism
- Travel Software and Booking Programs
Learning the Business Aspects
A lengthier hospitality and tourism degree program may go more in-depth about the business aspects of the industry. You’ll learn how to network with luxury resort owners, restaurant managers, cruise lines and airlines, and other tourism and travel professionals to ensure top-of-the-line services for your clients.
How Long is Travel Agent School in IL?
Training courses for aspiring travel agents in IL can last anywhere from six weeks to a year, depending on where you enroll. Generally speaking, most trade school certificate programs are about four months long. Obtaining a hospitality and tourism degree, on the other hand, can take two, four, or six years.
Although tuition rates vary by institution, most travel agent schools in Illinois charge about $130 per credit hour. Depending on the length of your program, you might pay anywhere from $1,200 to $5,000 to earn a travel agent certificate or diploma in IL. Students in hospitality and tourism degree programs typically pay $30,000 or more to complete their courses.
Some travel agencies offer online training courses that teach applicants the necessary skills they need to be successful travel agents in IL. Many of these programs take less than a week to complete and cost between $190 and $300.
Illinois Travel Agent Requirements
Travel agent certifications are optional in Illinois, so it’s possible to find a job at a travel agency if you lack a certified travel associate (CTA) or certified travel counselor (CTC) credential. However, aspiring travel agents in IL might need one of these licenses if they want to qualify for well-paying positions at the state’s top travel agencies.
If your preferred travel agent job in Illinois requires you to have an official certification, consider getting your credential through one of the following companies:
- The Travel Institute
- The American Society of Travel Advisors
- The International Air Transport Association
- The Cruise Line International Association
Specific Agency Requirements
Each agency has its own requirements that aspiring travel agents in IL must meet. You usually need to be at least 18 years old and submit proof of graduation from a high school diploma or GED program. From there, you must complete the organization’s online training course and pass a competency exam to earn your travel agent certification.
Opening a Travel Agency in Illinois
Unlike travel agents in California, Nevada, and Florida, travel agents in IL can run their own travel agencies without obtaining a Seller of Travel license. However, you must purchase a surety bond to protect your clients against financial mishandling, fraud, and misrepresentation. You’ll also need to register your business with the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Travel Agent Salaries in IL
While the average travel agent salary in Illinois is about $33,903 per year, annual earnings vary by employer and experience. For example, experienced travel agents in IL could earn up to $58,4587 or more, especially if they work at a well-known company like Booking.com, Expedia, Hotwire, or Airbnb.
Your location can determine your salary as well. Check out the following list of regional travel agent salaries in IL to learn how much you might make working an entry-level travel agent job in Illinois:
- Chicago $34,891
- Springfield $37,711
- Peoria $36,736
- Danville $36,284
- Bloomington $35,921
Remote travel agents in IL might earn salaries closer to $40,000 initially, while those who establish their own travel agencies can set their own rates and charge more for their services.
A friendly, upbeat personality and strong organizational skills are essential for those performing travel agent jobs in Illinois. Whether they’re working in a traditional office setting or in their own homes, travel agents in IL typically complete the following duties during their work days:
- Discuss travel needs and preferences with clients
- Create itineraries of events, day trips, and activities that suit the traveler’s schedule and budget
- Offer trip packages and travel insurance
- Book flights, cruises, accommodations, restaurant reservations, and event tickets for clients
- Arrange car rentals, ferry rides, and other transportation for travelers during their trip
- Keep in contact with travelers during their trips
- Make adjustments to the travel itinerary as needed
The national demand for travel agents is likely to increase by about 20 percent, according to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Qualified travel agents in IL can take advantage of this projected growth rate by completing an accredited training course to improve their chances of getting hired at some of the most well-known travel agencies in the country.