A travel agent helps to plan, book, and manage a vacation for a client.
If you love traveling, have great interpersonal skills, and are highly organized, then you might like to become a travel agent.
Many people who like to travel become a travel agent for this reason.
Working within the industry gives you access to cheap and discounted travel, and many agents are even sent on paid vacations by resorts or accommodation providers who expect agents to send them work in return.
For many years, being a travel agent was about providing a service.
The better the service you provided, the more customers you would attract.
However, in recent years the pay structures have changed, and many agents are now paid on a commission or bonus system.
This means that successful travel agents are those with strong sales and marketing ability.
Education Requirements to Become a Travel Agent
If you’re still in high school and you would like to become a travel agent, taking subjects in English, as well as business is a good idea.
During your vacations, you might like to try and get some work experience at a travel agency.
Of course, to be able to understand the needs of your client, it will be a good idea to do some traveling yourself.
This is not to say that you need to visit every continent, but doing a small amount of traveling so as to understand the needs of a traveler booking a vacation will help.
Many travel agents have opportunity to travel as a part of their job.
There is no formal educational requirement to become a travel agent, however employers will favor those will some qualification.
You can complete a two year associate’s degree at vocational college, which will cover areas like geography, ticketing, marketing, as well as industry basics.
There are also tourism bachelor’s degrees that focus on the travel industry.
A good source of information on working in the travel industry is the ASTA website.
Travel Agent Job Description
A travel agent looks after almost every aspect of a vacation for their clients.
They may help those select destinations, provide advice on conditions, plan an itinerary, and book accommodation and transports.
They will also give information about conditions, currency, and anything else that could affect a vacation.
If your clients face problems on their trip, it’s you they will turn to for help.
As a travel agent, you may need to help find a client emergency accommodation, or help them leave a dangerous area.
Here are some of the tasks of a travel agent:
- Meeting with a client and discussing vacation ideas
- Planning an itinerary and costing
- Booking accommodation and transport
- Providing client with tickets and information
- Advising a client of possible dangers on a trip
Travel Agent Salary and Career Path
When you become a travel agent, it’s likely you will begin your career working as a consultant for an agency.
There are also jobs available in call centers, as well as with online booking agencies.
Many travel agents go on to supervisory roles or management positions which entail more responsibility.
Some go on to work for booking agencies.
Some might create itineraries for tour companies, or take on a more hands-on role within the travel industry.
Others may go on to start their own companies.
Here are some similar roles you might find yourself moving onto:
While many travel agents work on a salary, it’s becoming more common for people to earn a commission as well.
The more vacations they sell, the more they will make.
If you have a real knack for sales, along with a passion for travel, you’ll be sure to be a success as a travel agent.
The median salary for a travel agent is $30,000 a year.
An entry level travel agent could expect to earn around $23,000 a year.
The top 10% of earners take home over $45,000 a year.
Those in their own business have the opportunity to make a much higher salary.
If you love traveling, then you might like to become a travel agent.
Not only will this role give you access to vacations for yourself, but you’ll also enjoy the job satisfaction of helping your clients plan perfect vacations.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a travel agent do?
In a nutshell, travel agents plan a trip for you.
A lot of professionals also offer consulting services, but, most of the time, provide entire travel packages for individuals or companies.
Some travel agents focus only on business or leisure trips, while others might specialize in one specific location or region (like Africa or Europe, for example).
The main aim of a travel agent is to make sure that the customer is 100% satisfied with the trip.
Professionals should have amazing communication skills to be able to understand what exactly their client wants.
Travel agents work with customers on one side and with airlines, resorts, and rental companies on the other.
This is a year-round job; however, there are certain seasons when travel agents are busier than ever (during peak vacation times, for example).
How much do travel agents make?
On average, travel agents make a little more than $28.700 per year in the United States.
You can expect to earn anywhere between $23.000 and $51.500.
The salary would certainly depend on your geographical position, your experience, and your client base.
An entry-level travel agent can earn around $11 per hour; while a top-level professional can make over $24.
In general, travel agents that specialize in business and corporate trips, earn around $10.000 per year more than those who work with leisure trips.
The majority of travel agents earns a mix of a fixed salary and a commission from the packages.
How much does it cost to become a travel agent?
You would need a high school diploma to be able to apply for entry-level positions in the field.
There are plenty of travel planning courses available (both online and offline).
Online courses will cost you around $400, for example.
In some locations you might need a travel agent license; the cost of a license will vary by state (anywhere between $15 and $300).
In case you decide to become a member of a community program, it will cost you $200-$500 per year.
What is the demand for travel agents?
Between 2016 and 2026, the travel agent job market is expected to shrink by 11.6% in the United States.
The field will be providing poor employment opportunities in the near future.
It is extremely simple to book am airplane ticket and a hotel online nowadays.
That’s exactly why a lot of travelers prefer to organize the trips all on their own.
Moreover, the travel industry heavily depends on the overall state of the economy in the country.
How long does it take to become a travel agent?
It won’t take you too long to become a travel agent.
As we have already mentioned, a specialized degree in the field is not required, though a bachelor’s in some spheres might be helpful.
Travel planning classes can last anywhere between a few weeks and a couple of months.
However, in case you want to start your own business, you would have to take business classes as well (ideally, have a degree in business administration, for example).
In case you are required to have a license in the state that you live in, you can obtain one in a single day.