How to Become a Travel Agent in Virginia
Pursuing a career as a travel agent demands a passion for exploration and artful expertise in crafting unforgettable travel experiences for your clients.
Involve yourself in a high-demand job, leading clients to a destination as vibrant and stimulating as your journey in guiding them there.
Education & Training
How Much Does It Cost?
Online courses that prepare you for certification, such as the ones above, cost about $2500 . This is considerably less expensive than traditional education pathways; even online college degrees may cost anywhere between $6,000 and $8,000 per semester, with Bachelor’s degrees requiring up to 8 semesters.
How Long Does It Take?
The duration of your education and training to become a travel agent in Virginia may depend on the type of education you seek. Online courses, such as the ones above, take about 6 months.
Prospective travel agents may choose to complete certification courses related to the profession or even pursue college degrees in related fields. Virginia is one of the 11 states requiring travel agent registration or licensing. Though this licensing is mainly for individuals selling travel packages, the state still requires prospective travel agents to complete an educational component.
Certificate courses for travel agents may take 9 to 15 months to complete, with course length varying depending on the institution. Prospective travel agents wishing to pursue higher education may take between 2 and 4 years to complete a degree in a relevant field, such as tourism or marketing.
What Do You Study?
A course with the purpose of training travel agents and providing them with the skills necessary for the job will address the following:
- Travel Expenses: Guidelines for determining clients’ travel and lodging costs, including fees, taxes, rebates, and other expenses.
- Reservations: The process of reserving transportation, lodging, leisure activities; how to prepare tickets for transportation providers.
- Geography and Culture: Essential insights into geographical and cultural contexts to factor in when assessing potential travel and tourism destinations for clients.
Benefits of Taking the Course
Taking a certification course for travel agents comes with many benefits that will further your resume and career as a travel agent. In completing a course specific to the job, you will fulfill all state training requirements necessary to seek employment as a travel agent without wasting money on general education courses a more archaic education pathway may require you to complete.
A certificate program will be less expensive than a traditional degree and will require much less time, enabling you to start earning an income sooner. Having a certificate or license specific to the role of a travel agent may boost your credibility with clients and travel agencies, emphasizing your career-specific knowledge.
Certificate programs are typically entirely online, making them flexible to your potentially demanding schedule.
How Much Can You Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median national salary for travel agents is $46,400 per year, or $22 per hour. The average salary for a travel agent in Virginia is $47,500 per year, or $15.60 per hour, according to Indeed.com.
Average salaries for Virginia’s largest 5 cities, provided by Indeed.com, are as follows:
- Virginia Beach: $15.73/hr, $48,000/year
- Chesapeake: $20.80/hr, $63,300/year
- Arlington: $25/hr, $76,000/year
- Norfolk: $15.59/hr, $47,500/year
- Richmond: $23.43/hr, $71,317/year
What Is Your Role?
The role of a travel agent involves orchestrating travel arrangements for clients who lack your expertise or choose to delegate the travel planning process to you, thereby simplifying their experience.
The job encompasses coordinating clients’ entire journey, from their departure to their destination and back, taking into account any specified dates and preferences emphasized by clients.
Your career may involve collaborating with private and corporate clients, potentially even specializing in specific sectors such as event planning.
Responsibilities & Duties
You will engage with clients face-to-face or consult virtually, ensuring a personalized service to put them at ease.
You will be tasked with seamlessly incorporating clients’ financial considerations, schedules, and prospective itineraries and aspirations into the planning process. From crafting well-thought-out plans and arranging accommodations and activities to booking flights and hotels, your job is to handle all the details.
Even further, you must organize documents necessary for travel and streamline the process for your clients. In the face of unexpected disruptions like cancellations, you must devise alternative arrangements, showcasing your commitment to a relaxing and fruitful vacation for your clients.
Certifications & Exams
The individual licensing requirements to become a travel agent may depend on the state and county of employment. 11 states have licensing regulations and requirements for travel agents and agencies. Although most of these regulations relate to travel agents’ permission to sell travel as a product, certain states, including Virginia, may still have educational requirements.
Furthermore, prospective travel agents may need to address any state or region-specific small business licensing requirements and comply with any background checks or fees to work independently or with an agency.
State License or Certification
Virginia is one of the 11 states with licensing regulations for travel agents. It is a state with one of the oldest travel laws in the country. Virginia’s licensing requirements mainly pertain to advertising and content presentation, even regulating specificities such as brochure font size.
The state’s travel laws regulate in-state and out-of-state travel clubs. Travel agents must complete a certification program and register with the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) to legally practice as travel agents. New travel agents in Virginia must additionally complete and comply with the DPOR’s registration paperwork.
Suppose travel agents wish to open their agency. In that case, they will additionally need to comply with both state-wide and regional business registration requirements, paying any necessary fees and complying with regional standards before practicing.
Despite Virginia being one of the few states with registration requirements for travel agents, the state only requires prospective travel agents to fulfill apprenticeship requirements before employment or licensing. Although apprenticeships are optional, they may boost your career prospects, offering hands-on training and customer service experience that a certification program may not provide.
Internships may serve as stepping stones for employment, enabling trainees to seek later work at the agency they sought their training at. In general, apprenticeships may give prospective travel agents the skills necessary to specialize in specific sectors of the travel industry, such as corporate travel.