How to Become a Certified Travel Associate

Learn how to become a certified travel associate. Research the education requirements, training, certification information and experience you will need to start a career in travel. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Certified Travel Associate?

Travelers who need assistance with their arrangements contact travel associates to aid with research and advice. By providing this information to clients, the associate is able to help make all the necessary lodging and transportation arrangements so that customers can enjoy their trips. Job stress might occur with last-minute changes or travel emergencies.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary for travel agents of $35,660 in May 2015.

Career Requirements

Degree Level None; employers often prefer some training or a degree
Degree Field Tourism or related field
Licensure and Certification Licensure varies by state; voluntary certification available
Experience None; experience required for certification
Key Skills Skills in sales, organization, and communication; attention to detail; adventurousness; familiarity with online reservation systems; ability to work long hours
Salary $35,660 (2015 median salary for travel agents)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

No postsecondary education is required to become a certified travel associate, but many employers prefer applicants with some college training or a degree in a field related to travel and tourism. Some states require licensure and certification is available at different levels. This is an entry-level position, but certification requires some experience. You'll also need to have skills in sales, organization and communication, familiarity with online reservation systems, attention to detail, adventurousness and the ability to work long hours

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Steps to Become a Certified Travel Associate

Let's learn about the steps you'll need to take to become a certified travel associate.

Step 1: Complete a Postsecondary Program

While postsecondary education isn't necessary for travel associates, many employers seek out applicants who have completed some formal training in travel, tourism or a related subject. Several options are available for aspiring travel associates who wish to enroll in educational programs. Certificate and degree programs are available at community colleges, technical schools, universities and other institutions. Students in these programs typically complete coursework in relevant subjects that include accounting, travel industry management, group tour operations, airline computer system training, travel sales and international tariffs.

Success Tips

Complete an internship. Some travel or tourism education programs may offer the opportunity to complete an internship or other work experience. This experience can be valuable to aspiring travel associates since it allows them to see how online reservation systems are used in real-life situations and work with seasoned professionals in the industry. They may also become familiar with some of the popular travel destinations and how to sell those travel packages to customers.

Get involved in a student club. Student associations devoted to travel and tourism can be found at some colleges and universities that offer these programs. Meeting with other students interested in the field can help aspiring travel associates exchange knowledge about the industry and keep up with the latest travel trends as well as network.

Step 2: Obtain Licensure

Some states have licensure requirements for travel associates and others who sell travel services. These requirements vary from state to state. Prospective travel associates should research the specific requirements for their states and determine if they need to secure licensure.

Step 3: Acquire Job Training and Experience

Travel agencies typically have different work procedures, so travel associates often complete on-the-job training after being hired. This job training may be a formal procedure or it can be done on-the-job through supervision. Travel associates learn how to interact with clients and businesses while handling stress and sometimes odd or long work hours. By becoming familiar with the technology involved, travel associates learn how to quickly research travel locations and travel deals for customers.

Step 4: Become Certified

Certification can lead to new job opportunities. There are a number of options for workers interested in becoming certified travel associates. For example, the Travel Institute offers the Certified Travel Associate (CTA) and Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) designations. Both credentials require related work experience and examination. However, specific requirements vary.

Certification is also available through the International Air Transport Association, which offers the Travel and Tourism Professional (TTP) designation. In order to qualify for this credential, travel associates may either have three years of professional experience or two years of experience with a bachelor's degree.

Success Tip

Maintain certification. In order to continue to be certified travel associates, individuals must renew their certification in accordance with the issuing association's rules and policies. The Travel Institute requires yearly renewal of the CTA and CTC designations, while the IATA requires renewal of the TTP certification every two years. The TTP certification maintenance process requires completing 50 points of continuing education in the form of workshops, training programs and professional reference letters.

To become a certified travel associate, you'll need to meet any licensing requirements, gain experience in the field and complete the certification process.

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