How to Become a Travel Agent
Do you love planning great trips? If so, a career as a Travel Agent may be for you. How much can you anticipate earning in this industry, and what skills and requirements might you need to find a job? Find out in this article!
What Does a Travel Agent Do?
A Travel Agent is responsible for all the tasks of planning and arranging their customers’ travel needs. This involves researching the best options in hotels, airlines and activities for clients, depending on their individual needs and budget. This position also involves booking travel arrangements and accommodating any changes or cancellations. Travel Agents usually work for travel agencies, although a growing number are working remotely or are self-employed.
Being a Travel Agent requires technical skills, as well as excellent customer service. Typical responsibilities of a Travel Agent include:
- Researching and recommending travel destinations
- Booking airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals and activities
- Calculating travel costs
- Charging credit cards
- Creating travel itineraries
Travel Agent Skills
Working as a Travel Agent requires knowledge about geography, weather patterns, the hospitality and travel industries, but that’s only part of the skills needed to excel in this role. As Travel Agents book travel for others, their success is determined by their customer service skills. They must be friendly, accommodating and helpful to all their clients. They must be active listeners to hear what their clients truly want, and have the communication skills to interact with them to suggest alternatives or explain possible concerns.
Other key Travel Agent skills include:
- Customer service skills
- Typing proficiency
- Organizational skills
- Multi-tasking skills
- An interest in travel
How Do You Become a Travel Agent
Education and Training
To become a Travel Agent, all you really need is a high school diploma or GED, but most employers did seek candidates with a Travel Agent certification. While there is no universal Travel Agent certificate required in the US, there are a variety of certifications you may consider to help in your job search, which include:
- Certified Travel Associate (CTA) – for agents with 18+ months of experience.
- Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC) – a management skills program designed for travel agents looking to build or grow their business for agents with 5+ years of experience and a CTA.
- Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) – non-consumer sales roles with 5+ years of experience for agents with 5+ years of experience.
- Global Travel Professional (GTP) – travel agent certification for those focused on business travel management.
- Accredited Cruise Counsellor (ACC)
- & more.
Finding a job
With the advent of the Internet, people are finding it easier than ever to book their travel themselves. Due to this fact, there is a 12 percent decline in the outlook for Travel Agent positions, with only 1,150 new jobs becoming available through 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Due to the decline in jobs, there will be more competition for jobs in the travel sector. This is why it is imperative to write a top-notch Travel Agent resume to set you apart from the competition.
Search for Travel Agent job openings; but remember that many Travel Agents succeed by working remotely and operating their own businesses.
A good cover letter for this position would explain how your love of travel and customer service skills would help you succeed in this role.
How Much Do Travel Agents Get Paid?
Travel Agents make an average yearly salary of $35,700. The highest-paid professionals make $60,200, and the lowest-paid earn $20,100.
Top 10 States for a Travel Agent’s Salary
Travel Agents in the following states make the highest median salary in the US.
- Massachusetts – $49,000
- Virginia – $45,300
- New Hampshire – $43,600
- Wyoming – $42,400
- North Carolina – $41,600
- Washington – $41,400
- Texas – $41,300
- New Jersey – $40,500
- District of Columbia – $39,000
- Connecticut – $38,400
Insights from a Travel Agent
To give you better insight into what it takes to become a Travel Agent, we interviewed Mary Yohannan, CTA, owner of Life is Better Traveling.
What is the common career path for this position?
Honestly, there is no “common” career path. In this industry you can take on various positions as a travel agent in the leisure or corporate world of travel, but it really is up to the person as to which direction they think they is best for them. I highly recommend taking some travel related coursework and getting into a good program that is going to give you an overall understanding of what it is like to be a travel agent, the travel industry, and marketing.
What should someone consider before becoming a Travel Agent?
Consider traveling. Travel to places that interest you and consider making those places you traveled your niche. It is easier to sell a niche then to sell the whole world. I also tell my independent contractors to give yourself time to build a solid clientele list, and then when you have that, referrals will pour in. Just like any business, it takes time and energy to get it going in the beginning.
What type of person excels in this job?
The person who understands that they are in the business of marketing will excel at being a travel agent. You have to tell people what you do, why you do it, and how it will benefit them. If you expect people to just come to you, then you will quickly find yourself taking on other jobs to make ends meet. You have to get out there and market yourself and your business.
What are some of the most important skills required for this position?
A travel agent should be able to be organized as there are many deadlines and payments that need to be made on a daily basis and missing one could mean losing money and vacation space. A travel agent should understand that their time is precious and that they shouldn’t be taken advantage of because of their skills. In this industry where travel agents are paid when a client books with us, those who are using our skills to do their vacation planning and then book online means work without pay.
Our industry is changing and service fees are becoming more common, so a travel agent needs to be patient and commit to charging a travel-planning fee. A travel agent must also be able to sell him or herself. In any industry, the way you present yourself will make up a person’s mind in a few seconds as to whether or not they want to work with you. Make sure that you present yourself every time in a manner that will make people wanting to work with you.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Travel Agent?
Many people have this misconception that travel agents travel for free everywhere we go. The truth is we work hard at making vacation experiences that provide memories of a lifetime to many families. For some travel agencies, they have worked hard for bonuses that may include free travel, but that doesn’t mean all travel agents travel for free.
The most rewarding aspect for many travel agents are the pictures they see on social media of their client’s bragging about their amazing vacations, or getting thank you cards in the mail because they did an amazing job vacation planning. A little thank you goes a long way with a travel agent.
Travel Agent Resources
For more information about becoming or working as a Travel Agent, follow these resources.
On the Web
Travel Agent Central – A Travel Agent resource to access breaking news on the travel industry on a daily basis.
The Travel Institute – Developing all types of training since 1964 – new-to-the-industry, destination, niche and lifestyle, management, and leadership.
Airline, Travel Agent, GDS & Tour Operator Networking group – Airline, Travel Agent, GDS & Tour Operator Networking group for travel trade employees only.
Travel Agent Network – A group for Travel Agents to share ideas, learn more about the travel industry and more!
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) – The leading global advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public. Expand your world. Go with the pros.
The National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) – The foremost Travel Industry Association dedicated to providing the finest education, training, networking, and representation in support of Career Travel Agents.