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Travel agents work tirelessly to help individuals and businesses explore and ultimately book both business and leisure travel plans. Drawing on their experience in the travel industry, they create customized itineraries that help individuals book ideal vacation plans without stressing over every single detail. Most of the time, a travel agent will take care of the bulk of your travel planning for you - whether that's choosing your destination, picking the best flights, or simply offering some details about a location you selected yourself. Common tasks performed by travel agents include:

  • Asking clients about their vacation preferences and gauging their interest in different types of travel
  • Researching lodging and travel options
  • Booking flights and hotel options
  • Negotiating discounts on behalf of their clients
  • Advising clients on the specifics of their trip, and arranging ground transportation for once they arrive
  • Booking reservations
  • Solving disputes on behalf of clients

Fast Facts for Travel Agents in North Carolina

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, a total of 1,050 travel agents were employed in North Carolina in 2014. Together, these professionals earned an annual mean wage of $40,220, which is higher than $37,730 - the national annual mean wage for this profession. In 2014, the following regions in North Carolina employed the bulk of these workers:

  • Charlotte - Gastonia - Rock Hill, NC-SC: 290
  • Raleigh - Cary: 260
  • Greensboro - High Point: 110
  • Durham - Chapel Hill: 80
  • Winston - Salem: 70
  • Jacksonville: 40

Although travel agents are well represented in North Carolina today, employment in this field may not keep up with the rest of the state's labor force in the coming years. According to U.S. Department of Labor figures, job openings for travel agents in North Carolina could actually drop -12.7 percent during the decade leading up to 2022. As a result, fewer and fewer job openings for travel agents are expected to become available in the state between now and then.

Travel Agent Salaries in North Carolina

Through 2014, travel agents in North Carolina earned an annual mean wage of $40,220, a figure which works out to approximately $19.34 per hour. On a national level, some industries paid higher than average wages that year. Here are the top paying industries for these workers in 2014:

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services: $45,200
  • Office Administrative Services: $44,340
  • Scheduled Air Transportation: $42,830
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: $40,120
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services: $38,710

Metro Areas Rated for Salary and Popularity

Region

Employment per 1,000 Residents

Annual Mean Wage in 2014

Charlotte - Gastonia - Rock Hill, NC-SC

0.32

$41,130

Raleigh - Cary

0.47

$42,380

Greensboro - High Point

0.31

$35,270

Durham - Chapel Hill

0.28

$46,290

Winston - Salem

0.31

$39,450

Jacksonville

0.95

$27,710

Expert Q&A

To learn more about the hotel, tourism, and travel agent industry in the state of North Carolina, we reached out to John P. Meroski, CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. In this role, Mr. Meroski helps promote tourism and travel in and around the state of North Carolina.

What are some of the unique issues that travel agents face in the state of North Carolina?

In many North Carolina destinations that one would travel to, it is fairly easy to piece together accommodations and attractions that you want to visit on your own. You don't need a travel agent -- due in part to various advertising, communications channels and booking options that the destinations offer consumers to learn about their product.

What is the greatest benefit of practicing this field within the state of North Carolina?

I can't imagine working anywhere else. We offer so much to visitors and to our local residents. North Carolina is a great state to promote and be a part of within the tourism industry.

How will the job of a travel agent change in the next 10 to 20 years?

In a digital age, those who are not plugged in will fail. However, there remains a niche with baby boomers who still want paper in hand. Online competition and self-packaging have become a go-to for many consumers. Based on recent trends, online travel agents like Expedia and Travelocity are going to replace real live agents. Travel agents can't be viewed as a commodity by being unable to compete with most online rates, but rather as a trusted and valued information resource. Travel agents must work harder than ever to demonstrate their value proposition to consumers.

What unique geographic features does North Carolina offer tourists?

North Carolina boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, majestic mountains with the most scenic views, and some of the best golf courses in the world. The Sandhills region of North Carolina provides one of the only Longleaf Pine ecosystems with rare and endangered wildlife like the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Sources:

  1. Interview with John P. Meroski, CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, October 5, 2015
  2. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  3. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
  4. Travel Agents, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm
  5. Travel Agents, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes413041.htm
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Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Travel Agents

The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for North Carolina. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Travel Agents

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Travel Agents relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Metro Area
Jobs
Annual Median Salary
Asheville 40 $41,520
Greensboro 90 $30,230
High Point 90 $30,230
Hickory N/A $30,990
Lenoir N/A $30,990
Morganton N/A $30,990
Jacksonville 50 $27,180
Durham 80 $43,330
Chapel Hill 80 $43,330
Raleigh 280 $42,960
Winston 60 $31,220
Salem 60 $31,220

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