How to Become a Travel Agent in Michigan
The travel industry is a flourishing production and is only growing as international travel becomes more and more accessible with technological advances.
Pursuing a career as a travel agent is an incredible way to involve yourself in a profession as colorful and exciting as traveling while still earning a rewarding income.
Education & Training
How Long Does It Take?
Prospective travel agents may take an online course specific to their career; these certification programs’ durations may range between 9 to 15 months.
Since Michigan has no specific licensing requirements for travel agents, the training you may need varies drastically based on your pre-existing education and knowledge of the travel industry.
An alternative pathway is pursuing either an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business, tourism and management, or marketing. Acquiring a degree may take anywhere between 2 to 4 years.
How Much Does It Cost?
Just like the educational time commitment, costs for training programs for travel agents may vary drastically as well. Online certificate courses are typically the most affordable option for many, costing between $700 and $1,000 for an entire course.
Online degree programs vary drastically, depending on whether the university is private or public, though tuition typically ranges between $6,000 to $8,000 a semester (for a 15-credit semester).
Associate’s degrees require 60 credits, with total program costs averaging between $24,000 to $32,000. Bachelor’s degrees require 120 credits, with total program costs averaging between $48,000 and $64,000.
What Do You Study?
Courses specifically for prospective travel agents may address the following:
- Calculating Travel Costs: How to calculate the cost of travel and accommodations for clients, including fees, taxes, discounts, and other contributing factors.
- Preparations & Booking: How to book transportation, hotel reservations, and entertainment, as well as how to prepare transportation carrier tickets.
- Geography and Cultural Contexts: Any fundamental knowledge of physical and cultural geography you may need to apply when considering travel and tourism locations for clients.
- Optimizing Clients’ Experiences: How to find accommodations, trinkets, itineraries, and travel packages to best fit clients’ needs.
Benefits of Taking the Course
Taking an online course on travel agencies offers a variety of benefits in comparison to a traditional degree pathway. You don’t need any certifications to become a travel agent in Michigan, and consequently, the state has no licensing exam or knowledge requirement; taking a course designed for prospective travel agents ensures that you learn all necessary components of the career beyond essential marketing and business skills you may acquire with a generic degree.
Even highly-awarded and renowned online courses are comparatively inexpensive compared to on-campus classes and degree pathways. They’re much more flexible, enabling you to balance your career with your education. Online courses for travel agents are designed to address all the critical information you may need to become a travel agent. This includes business management, marketing, customer service, and essential travel knowledge, taking you further than a single, expensive degree while addressing the same information.
How Much Can You Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median national salary for travel agents in the United States is $46,400 annually, or around $22 an hour. The average salary range for travel agents in Michigan is $36,408 to $46,534 annually, according to Salary.com. Median salaries for the largest 5 cities in Michigan are as follows:
- Grand Rapids: $20/hr, $41,000/year
- Warren: $20/hr, 41,000/year
- Sterling Heights: $20/hr, 41,000/year
- Ann Arbor: $20/hr, 41,000/year
- Detroit: $17/hr, 35,500/year
Certifications & Exams
The licensing required to become a travel agent may vary drastically depending on your prospective state of employment. Different agencies may additionally have different training requirements or requests for prior work experience, even if a state has no mandatory licensing requirements. Furthermore, to focus in various specialties as a travel agent, such as wedding travel or family vacations, additional education may be necessary as well.
State License or Certification
Michigan has no mandatory state license or certification required for travel agents. Still, completing a certification program or related educational course can be helpful when searching for career opportunities, as it can make you a more competitive applicant.
Though no certifications are required to become a travel agent, if you wish to be self-employed or operate your own business, you must comply with Michigan’s business requirements. This includes potentially acquiring a seller’s permit number, defining your business structure, getting appropriate permits, and paying any required fees and taxes.
Apprenticeships are not a mandatory requirement for prospective travel agents in Michigan. Still, they can be a great way to acquire knowledge and gain work experience about the career while still earning an income. Prospective travel agents seeking additional training may be able to work as apprentices under senior travel agents, or they may seek employment as trainees at a travel agency.
Working as an apprentice or trainee may contribute to your professional success, enabling you to seek employment at your place of training.
Beyond apprenticeships, all travel agents may benefit from additional education and certification. Proof of training, whether a degree or an educational course, may increase your employability or enable you to work as a travel agent in a more specific field.