Travel agents plan transportation and accommodations for their clients, evaluating the needs of various individuals, families, organizations and business people in order to make the appropriate recommendations and arrangements. Agents may also provide advice regarding specific destinations, attractions, activities, exhibitions, tours and cruise lines or even specialize in particular areas of travel such as business, leisure or unique destinations.
Travel Agent Schools
Although a college education is not necessary to become a travel agent, there are a number of travel agent training programs available to help you learn related knowledge and skills. These can give you a cutting edge when it comes to new trends in travel, places to go, how to best operate reservations systems, and more. While the scope of learning can vary, some of the travel agent training programs are available through:
- Penn Foster: A diploma in travel and tourism can be completed online in as quickly as six months and better prepare you to seek Travel Agency Proficiency (TAP) certification. After completing this program, students are given a certificate to enroll in a Destination Specialist course through the Travel Institute.
- The University of Central Florida: This Orlando, Fla., school offers a 250-hour online certificate program through its Department of Continuing Education that helps prepare students to seek TAP certification and understand how a reservation systems works, whether it's for an airline or home-based business.
- The Travel Agent Training Center: Using a combination of correspondence coursework and online education, this center offers a certificate of completion, which students usually can finish within six months. However, students can pay for and complete one module at a time or enroll for a whole package, which typically entails cost savings.
- The Travel Academy: Located in Eagan, Minn., The Travel Academy offers training on the SABRE reservations system and is endorsed by the American Society of Travel Agents. There are both 120-hour and 300-hour training options, and The Travel Academy also offers programs for other careers, such as flight attendant and the cruise ship and airport industries.
The travel agent is field more diverse than it might seem, which is why travel agent schools are available to help students gain in-depth knowledge about reservations systems, cruises, sales and marketing, international regulations, car rentals, exotic destinations and more. Some travel agent schools also have the added bonus of helping students prepare for certification, which may be preferred by some travel agencies.
Travel Agent Certification and Licensing
Although just a high school diploma is typically required to become a travel agent, students also might want to consider additional certification and licensing. Alternatively, some agents begin their careers as reservation clerks or receptionists in travel agencies, in which a significant amount of on-the-job training is provided, with an emphasis placed on reservation systems.
Certifications may help travel agents to be more valuable in the field, including the following:
- Certified Travel Associate and Certified Travel Counselor certificates - available through the Travel Institute. The institute also provides marketing and sales strategies programs as well as destination specialist programs.
- Global Leadership Professional, Corporate Travel Expert and Corporate Travel Executive certificates - available through the The National Business Travel Association.
A business license may be necessary to work as a travel agent in specific states. Contacting a state and/or local governmental agency can provide more details about the business license requirements and enable applicants to learn more about required fees and processes for renewal.
Resources for Travel Agents
- The Association of Retail Travel Agents
- The American Society of Travel Agents
- The Global Business Travel Association
- The International Airlines Travel Agent Network
- The National Association of Career Travel Agents
- Travel Agents, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm
- Travel Agents, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes413041.htm
- Where Will Americans Travel in 2015? The New York Times, Jan. 6, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/travel/where-will-americans-travel-in-2015-.html?_r=0
- Travel and Tourism Specialist Program Overview, Penn Foster. http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/culinary-arts-and-entertaining/travel-and-tourism-specialist-career-diploma
- Travel Agent Training, The University of Central Florida. http://careertraining.ed2go.com/ucf/training-programs/travel-agent
- AAA Online Training, The Travel Agent Training Center. http://travelagenttrainingcenter.com/Training
- Travel Agent Training, The Travel Academy, http://www.thetravelacademy.com/travel-careers/travel-agent-training