How to Become a Travel Agent in North Carolina
Consider becoming a travel agent in NC if you’re well-traveled, have a friendly, upbeat personality, and enjoy planning trips.
To get your travel agent career underway, you’ll need to complete on-the-job training or enroll in an educational course that teaches you the tools of the trade.
From there, you can obtain an official certification and qualify for travel agent jobs in North Carolina.
Education and Training
Wondering how to become a travel agent in North Carolina? Generally speaking, aspiring travel agents in NC have two training options to choose from. Some choose to get entry-level jobs at local travel agencies and develop the necessary skills through on-the-job training. Others enroll in a North Carolina trade school to gain a thorough, more well-rounded understanding of the travel industry.
On-the-Job Travel Agent Training in NC
If you have previous customer service or sales experience, you may be able to get an entry-level travel agent job in North Carolina. Supervisors at these companies teach new hires how to plan trips and ensure customer satisfaction while adhering to company policy.
Training for these employees typically includes instruction on:
- Planning particular types of trips, including family vacations, business trips, and solo travel
- Following a company-approved script when talking to travel clients on the phone
- Using industry-specific software and templates to plan and book trips
- Recommending travel packages and insurance from companies that partner with your employer
NC Travel Agent School
Those who enroll in travel agent certificate or diploma programs can gain a deeper understanding of the tourism industry, which can make it easier to qualify for well-paying travel agent jobs in North Carolina.
At most travel agent schools, students take classes that cover the following topics:
- Fundamentals of Tourism and Hospitality
- Domestic and International Travel Regulations
- Trip Planning and Itinerary Creation
- Communication and Sales
- Marketing and Networking in the Travel Industry
You might also learn about the business aspects of tourism and travel, which can benefit students who plan on opening their own travel agencies. Those who enroll in hospitality and tourism degree programs may learn even more advanced sales and travel planning techniques for working with luxury travel companies and high-end clientele.
How Long Does It Take?
Many training courses for travel agents in NC are between six and 18 months long, though exact program lengths vary across different institutions. You may be able to earn a travel agent certificate in as little as six weeks, depending on which school you attend.
Hospitality and tourism degrees, on the other hand, can take anywhere from two to six years to complete.
How Much Does Travel Agent School Cost in NC?
Even though tuition rates differ across NC travel agent schools, most institutions charge around $2,000. Shorter or accelerated trade school training programs may cost closer to $800, while company-sponsored courses might cost between $300 and $500. Tuition rates for hospitality or tourism degree programs usually range from $20,000 to $35,000.
North Carolina Travel Agent Requirements
North Carolina allows unlicensed individuals to become travel agents in NC, as long as they are at least 18 and have a high school diploma or GED. Once you’ve completed the necessary training or educational program, you can start applying for travel agent jobs in North Carolina. However, your employer might require you to obtain an official certification before you can become eligible for hire.
Becoming a certified travel associate (CTA) or certified travel counselor (CTC) might make it easier to find jobs with high-end, luxury travel companies or attract more clients to your personal travel agency or freelance business. Some organizations that offer travel agent certification include:
- The Cruise Line International Association
- The American Society of Travel Advisors
- The Travel Institute
- The International Air Transport Association
To obtain certification from one of these companies, aspiring travel agents in NC typically have to complete an agency-sponsored training course. During these programs, you usually learn various details of the tourism and travel industry and practice particular sales techniques for promoting travel packages and insurance options. Afterward, you must pass a competency exam to earn your certification.
Travel Agent Salaries in NC
Although the average annual travel agent salary in North Carolina is about $44,610, your wages may vary depending on which part of the state you live in. Check out this list of annual earnings for travel agents in NC to determine how much travel agents make in your area:
- Raleigh $41,655
- Greensboro $33,430
- Charlotte $38,014
- Holly Springs $45,851
- Concord $39,975
- Jacksonville $38,784
Travel agent salaries in North Carolina also vary by employer. For example, a corporate travel agent may earn wages closer to the statewide average. However, a work-from-home travel agent in NC might make $50,000 per year or more, depending on the rates they charge for their services.
Exceptional attention to detail and organizational skills are essential if you want to be a successful travel agent in NC. Travel agent jobs in North Carolina require workers to complete several tasks, including:
- Discussing business, leisure, and family travel plans with clients, including
- Travel destinations
- Length of the trip
- Preferred accommodations
- Transportation needs
- Create an itinerary of events, day trips, and activities for travelers
- Recommend travel packages and insurance through partnering companies
- Gather passports, visas, and other travel documents from each client
- Book plane and cruise line tickets, hotel and resort stays, restaurant reservations, car rentals, etc.
- Maintain contact with travelers throughout their trip and make adjustments to accommodations as needed
Over the next ten years, there will likely be an increase in demand for qualified travel agents in the United States. In fact, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 20-percent growth rate in travel agent jobs throughout the nation between 2021 and 2031. Completing an accredited training program and having an official credential could make it easier to find a well-paying job in this field.