How To Become A Travel Agent
A travel agent assists customers who are interested in going on vacation. They help them with all aspects of planning their vacation, such as deciding where to go, booking flights, cruises, lodging, and more.
Travel agents may work for a company or have their own business. Many travel agents attend a formal degree program and receive on-the-job training. They also may be certified in their field.
Why Become A Travel Agent
There are many different kinds of travel. Some people enjoy luxurious travel, staying at high-end resorts and eating at fine dining restaurants. Others want to get away from it all, perhaps go camping in the wilderness. For some people, an adventure might mean traveling only a few miles from where they live. Others want to vacation in exotic locations.
The best travel agents specialize in a certain type of travel. There are many types of travel, so it is important to have a niche. Focus on one area of the travel industry, and become an expert in it.
The niche might be travel for 20 to 35 year olds, cruise travel, or travel in the United States. A travel agent helps clients book hotels, flights, and more. They also assist with any emergencies that come up during the vacation.
Travel Agents should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Organization Skills
- Loves to Travel
- Good Communicator
- Customer Service Skills
- Sales Skills
- Crisis Management
Travel Agent Work Environment
Travel agents work in an office environment. They spend much time on the phone, discussing travel itineraries with clients. They work on the computer to plan trips for their clients.
Traditionally, travel agents have worked in a storefront or call center environment. These types of roles have decreased in recent years. Instead, work from home positions have been on the rise. Many travel agents are able to telecommute, talking to clients from the comfort of their own homes.
Travel Agent Salary
The median annual salary for travel agents was $36,460 in 2016.
Many travel agents earn both a salary as well as commissions. Travel agents who book higher priced vacations, cruises, hotels, flights and other travel items will earn a higher commission. Because of this, travel agents are in many ways like sales agents and in charge of their own pay.
The earnings from agent to agent can vary considerably, depending on what kinds of vacation packages an agent is able to sell to clients.
Average Travel Agent Annual Salary
The average annual salary for travel agents is $40,840 a year. Salaries start at $21,350 a year and go up to $62,320 a year.
Average Travel Agent Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a travel agent is $19.64. Hourly wages are between $10.26 and $29.96 an hour.
Stats were based out of 67,330 employed travel agents in the United States.
Highest Paying States For Travel Agents
- 1. Nevada $27.03 / hr $56,220 / yr
- 2. District of Columbia $26.76 / hr $55,670 / yr
- 3. Virginia $24.08 / hr $50,080 / yr
- 4. Washington $22.97 / hr $47,770 / yr
- 5. Vermont $22.25 / hr $46,270 / yr
Top Paying Cities For Travel Agents
- 1. Montgomery, AL $27.20 / hr$56,570 / yr
- 2. Las Vegas, NV $27.09 / hr$56,340 / yr
- 3. Reno, NV $26.08 / hr$54,240 / yr
- 4. Washington, DC $25.05 / hr$52,100 / yr
- 5. Oakland, CA $24.63 / hr$51,220 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Travel Agent Career Outlook
Employment for travel agents is expected to decline by 12 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is because many people have the ability to book their own vacations now, rather than rely on a travel agent. Today people can find information online and learn about the destinations they want to go to and compare prices for hotels, flights, destinations and more. Doing research independently cuts costs for many people.
Still, there are many people who choose to seek out travel agents. For example, some people may not feel comfortable doing travel research, and want a travel agent to do the legwork for them. Exotic or remote destinations may have extra steps involved with travel that a travel agent can help with. People with expert knowledge in a certain area or people who gear themselves towards a certain demographic will have the best success.
Travel Agent Degree
Read below to learn more about becoming a travel agent.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. Many colleges offer degrees and programs in the travel industry, such as degrees in travel and tourism, recreation, hospitality, and more. These are great programs to be enrolled in if you want to become a travel agent, although it is not mandatory to have a degree in these programs.
Step 2: Training. Travel agencies provide on-the-job training once hired, so you will feel comfortable and be knowledgeable of the software used. Many agencies use specific software to make reservations and look up information. It is important that travel agents be comfortable using computers.
Step 3: Certifications. Many organizations offer certifications for travel agents. One such organization is The Travel Institute. They offer certifications such as Certified Travel Associate and Certified Travel Counselor. Travel agents must complete classes and pass exams in order to qualify for the certifications. Other certification organizations include the International Airline Transport Association and Cruise Lines International Association.
Travel Agent Coursework
If you choose to enroll in a travel agent program, here are some examples of the courses you will be taking.
Geography: If you want to be a travel agent, you had better know about the world around you. These courses teach students about national and world geography.
Reservation Systems: The most commonly used reservation system is SABRE. It is very important for travel agents to feel comfortable using computers and making reservations online for clients.
Air Travel: Students will learn about airlines, airports and how to find the best deals for their clients.
Lodging and Accommodations: Students will learn about the many kinds of accommodations available, whether it is a 5-star hotel or campsites. They will learn about reservations at these types of facilities.
Travel Agent Career Path
If you enjoy being a travel agent, there are many opportunities for advancement. Earning a certification in this field will help you become recognized and earn additional clients. There are also opportunities for management. Check out a few ideas for advancement in this field listed below.
|Certified Travel Associate||This is an entry-level position within the travel agent industry.||Certified travel associates assist with making reservations, providing recommendations, selling products and services, and more.||Certification as a travel associate and 12 months experience in the industry. In order to obtain this certification, a travel agent must have 12 months experience working in the industry.||Certification means associates will be recognized in the industry for their additional knowledge and skills.|
|Certified Travel Counselor||Manager of a travel agency.||Oversees other travel agents, responsible for hiring and firing, coaching and ongoing education inside of a travel agency, managing projects and more.||Certification in travel counseling, plus 5 years of experience. Once a travel agent has 5 years of experience, they may apply for this certification and take an examination.||Good position for those seeking management inside of the profession.|
Related Travel Agent Careers
If you are interested in becoming a travel agent, you may also be interested in the related careers listed below.
Reservation Agent: Reservation agents help guests with their reservations at hotels, resorts, campgrounds, airlines, and anywhere else, providing information and great customer service.
Travel Blogger: Blogging is a fairly recent career field. People who love writing may enjoy combining their interest in travel, writing about topics such as planning for trips, faraway destinations, recent trips you have taken, and how to budget.
Tour Guide: If you love interacting with people, and you have an in-depth knowledge about a particular city or location, you may enjoy being a tour guide. In this career, you take visitors on tours of the local area and immerse them in the culture, showing them what life is like and giving them information.