Travel agents manage every aspect of travel for their clients, whether they are businessmen or individual travelers. They oversee transportation, book accommodations, and even organize entertainment. Travel agents asses their clients’ needs and wishes, then make travel plans to accommodate these requirements.
A travel agent also promotes travel packages on behalf of resorts, cruise lines, and specialty travel groups. As an agent you may choose to specialize in your trade by type of travel, such as leisure or business; or by destination, for example, Africa, Europe or Asia.
What the Stats Say
The most recent statistics according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) done as of January 2019 are as follows:
A travel agent earns a median salary of $36,990 annually.
An estimated 81,700 people work as travel agents.
Most travel agents work with travel agencies; however, some are self-employed and start a travel agency from home, working independently.
Employment of travel agents is expected to decline between 2016 and 2026.
To become a travel agent and counter this bleak job outlook, consider being a specialized travel agent focusing on either destinations types or type of traveler. Agents who do this will have better employment chances compared to those who don’t.
What to Do to Become a Travel Agent
To become a travel agent at the very basic, you will require a high school diploma. However, you can get professional training in travel planning at a technical school or a community college. There you will learn about reservation systems, international travel regulations and marketing your business. But, your best bet is getting a bachelor's degree either in travel and tourism or a related course. in the meantime if you want to work from home through host travel agency, you are not required to be certified or have special degree in travel industry. All training and certifications are usually provided by host agency.
What Will Make You More Marketable?
Upon getting your training in this field, you will further require two popular certifications that will give you a better chance at landing a job at the best host travel agency for the beginners.
These are the Certified Travel Associate (CTA) and the Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) which are offered by the Travel Institute to provide education and training.
To apply for the CTA designation, you’d have to have at least 12 months of experience in the retail travel industry as a Front-line agent. This may include completing a 15 module curriculum, which involves studying topics such as planning itineraries; understanding customer needs; travel insurance; touring the world; business ethics and; ultimately passing the exams. However, you also have an option of taking the exam without necessarily sitting through the coursework.
The CTC designation will allow you to prove that you have the necessary skills to work at a host travel agency with leads in the travel industry and; be an effective manager once you put in at least five years of travel industry experience. To qualify for the CTC certification, you will have to study these core topics: project management; coaching and mentoring; conflict management; team building and; negotiating.
A pre-requisite for this credential is completing the CTA course or passing the CTA test. Upon finishing the CTC coursework, you will have to take and pass the final exam and write a comprehensive paper on a topic related to the travel industry. To keep your CTC certification, you must earn ten continuing education units (CEUs) per year.