Becoming a travel agent is a popular career choice among well-traveled individuals with customer service experience and exceptional trip-planning skills. Completing a travel agent program through a trade school or community college can help aspiring travel agents prepare for rewarding careers in the tourism and travel industry.
Education & Training
Several trade schools offer travel agent certificates, diplomas, and degree programs that teach students the ins and outs of the industry. Those hoping to run their own travel agency or work with high-profile clients might consider getting a travel agent degree to gain a more in-depth understanding of the hospitality and tourism field.
How Long Does it Take to Complete Travel Agent Training?
100 course hour programs, such as the ones above, are designed to be completed in 6 months. If you enroll in a diploma program that offers an official certification exam at the end, you might complete your courses in 1 to 2 years.
How Much Does it Cost?
Expect to pay between $2000 to $3000 for a decent online training program.
What is the Training Like?
During travel agent training, many employees and students start by learning how to use industry-specific software and databases to plan vacations and business trips. You might also receive training on particular sales techniques that encourage customers to purchase travel bundles and all-inclusive resort packages.
What Do You Study in Travel School?
Many travel agent schools and trainers also teach:
- Effective customer service protocols
- Different approaches to corporate and luxury travel planning
- Itinerary creation
- Domestic and international travel regulations
- Travel insurance coverage options
Are Travel Training Programs Legit?
Yes, but you should look for a program offered in conjunction with a local school that you can trust. A legit program will also prepare you for the Travel Agent Proficiency test.
If you don’t have any experience, enrolling in an online travel agent course is an excellent way to acquire skills vital to the job and bolster your reputation with prospective clients and employers.
How Much Do Travel Agents Make?
On average, full-time travel agent jobs pay about $46K to $50K per year. However, you might be able to negotiate a higher wage if you have a travel agent degree or work for a high-profile company.
Self-employed travel agents usually make more than others, earning roughly $70,000 per year or more, depending on their rates and clientele.
How Do Travel Agents Get Paid?
Travel agents typically have a standard service fee that each client must pay when booking a trip. If a traveler requires extra accommodations in addition to the basic service package, the agent may choose to increase their rates. On a corporate level, travel agents sell travel packages and bundles to make money through resort, airline, and cruise line commissions.
What are the Qualifications to be a Travel Agent?
A high school diploma is the minimum requirement for becoming a travel agent. However, some companies might also prefer applicants to have previous customer service experience. To give yourself an advantage over other candidates for travel agent jobs, you might consider getting an official travel agent certificate, diploma, or degree.
Do You Need a Degree to be a Travel Agent?
It is possible to qualify for a travel agent job if your only credentials are a high school diploma and some on-the-job training. However, obtaining a certificate, diploma, or degree from an accredited travel agent school can improve your chances of getting attractive job offers from some of the industry’s top travel agencies.
What Skills are Needed to be a Travel Agent?
While knowing the ins and outs of the travel industry is essential for aspiring agents, they also need a range of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills in order to succeed in travel agent jobs.
Some of the most important traits a travel agent can have include:
- A friendly and professional attitude
- Computer skills, speed, and efficiency
- Problem-solving skills for handling issues that occur during clients’ trips
- Charismatic sales knowledge and techniques
- Money management skills to ensure they stick to the client’s budget
- Exceptional verbal and written communication skills
- Attention to detail and organizational skills
If you’re planning to start your own travel agency or work as a freelancer, you’ll need a certain level of business sense, as well. You’ll need to develop effective marketing, advertising, networking, and accounting skills to be a self-employed travel agent.
Is it a Legit Career Path?
Yes, a career as a travel agent is entirely legitimate. Travel agents are pivotal in demystifying their clients’ diverse and often overwhelming options, ensuring a safer, more affordable, and more reputable travel experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for travel agents is $46,400 per year, or $22.31 per hour. With over 65,000 positions opening annually over the next decade, a career as a travel agent is enterprising and lucrative for those seeking to make a difference in a vibrant and diverse field.
What Do Travel Agents Normally Do?
Travel agents perform several tasks in the process of planning trips and vacations. Each time they take on a new client, a travel agent must:
- Collect information about the client’s travel plans, including the reason for the trip, their chosen destination, trip duration, and travel budget
- Research lodgings, restaurants, events, and venues near the travel destination that suit the traveler’s needs
- Communicate with other travel and tourism professionals to find deals and discounts that fit within the client’s budget
- Obtain any required documentation from the traveler, including passports and travel insurance information
- Book flights and hotel stays, purchase event tickets, and make restaurant reservations for the client
- Maintain communication with the traveler throughout their trip to ensure things go smoothly.
- Handle any issues that occur during the trip, including lost passports and missed flights
How to Get a Job as a Travel Agent
After you’ve obtained the necessary education and customer service skills for a travel agent job, you can take the following steps to begin your career in the industry:
- Choose the travel agency you want to work for and research their hiring criteria.
- Take the company’s required training course to familiarize yourself with the practices and policies of that particular agency.
- Create a resume detailing any travel agent school, on-the-job training, or customer service experience you have.
- If applicable, submit a travel portfolio of past vacations and trips you’ve planned.
- Apply for a job with the company OR, if you have the proper amount of experience and business sense, consider opening your own.
Can Travel Agents Work from Home?
While some travel agents work out of traditional office spaces, people in this profession can also perform their duties from home.
An organized, efficient workstation is essential if you plan on working remotely.
Travel agents who work from home will need the following:
- A laptop or desktop computer
- Document filing and recordkeeping software
- Internet service
- A phone to keep in touch with clients and contacts
At-home travel agents also need quiet, comfortable workspaces where they can take phone calls and conduct video meetings without interruption. Quickly responding to all calls and emails is a must for remote travel agents, so they need to be available during all hours of the day and night.
What is the Difference Between a Travel Agent and a Travel Advisor?
While the terms are often interchangeable, a travel agent typically focuses on booking and arranging travel logistics. In contrast, a travel advisor emphasizes personalized and consultative services, offering tailored recommendations based on clients’ preferences.
Travel advisors often build long-term relationships, providing in-depth destination knowledge, curated experiences, and additional assistance beyond essential bookings. The role of a travel advisor involves a more comprehensive and client-centric approach, aiming to enhance the overall travel experience with expert advice and attention to individual preferences.
Do Travel Agents Have Other Career Options?
Many of the skills you need to enjoy a rewarding travel agent career translate to other sectors of the hospitality and tourism industry. For example, travel agents might consider using their expertise to qualify for concierge careers at high-end luxury hotels and resorts.
Others may prefer to become hotel and restaurant managers, tour guides, and event, meeting, and convention planners.
Summary: How to Become a Travel Agent
Although the path to a travel agent career varies depending on your skills, experience, and location, most people become travel agents by taking the following steps:
- Obtain a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent.
- Consider gaining customer service experience at another entry-level job or through some type of community outreach.
- Complete on-the-job training OR enroll in one of the following:
- Specialized training courses at a specific travel agency
- Certificate or diploma programs at a travel agent school
- Associate, bachelor, or graduate-level degree programs for hospitality and tourism or a related field
- Earn a Certified Travel Agent/Associate (CTA) credential through an accredited school or certifying agency.
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