Should I Become a Travel Insurance Agent?
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; certificates and degrees available|
|Degree Field||Travel and tourism, business, or related field|
|Licensure/Certification||Varies by state and employer|
|Experience||On-the-job training may be available; experience required for some certifications|
|Key Skills||Communication, sales, and organizational skills; adventurous and detail-oriented; ability to operate the computer systems used in the travel industry|
|Salary||$38,750 (2015 average for travel insurance agents)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Travel insurance agents sell travel insurance to prospective travelers to protect them financially in the case of cancellations, accidents, medical emergencies, lost luggage and other travel incidents. The duties of these professionals fall in line with general travel agents and the two careers often overlap. The career requirements for travel insurance agents are relatively lax. They can include a high school diploma or the equivalent, travel insurance licensure and on-the-job training, as well as communication, sales and organizational skills. So, what's the salary potential for this career? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that travel insurance agents earned an average salary of $38,750 as of May 2015. Now, let's walk through the steps you can take to enter this line of work.
Step 1: Study the Travel Industry
The first step in this career path is to learn about the travel industry. Although not required for all positions, taking courses related to the travel industry can give you an edge over the competition. Students can find certificate and associate's degree programs in travel and tourism, along with other relevant majors. These programs offer courses such as geography and travel regions, office and tourism technology, cultural geography and marketing fundamentals.
During college, be sure to sharpen your communication skills. Good interpersonal skills are vital in this field and both spoken and written communication skills can help agents effectively deal with clients and other industry professionals. Relevant communications courses include English composition, speech and interpersonal communication.
Step 2: Obtain a State License
After studying the travel industry, determine if you need to obtain a state license. Some states require travel industry professionals to obtain licensure in order to offer certain services, such as travel insurance. The travel insurance license requirements vary by state, but generally include an application and licensing fee. Some states provide travel insurance companies with umbrella licenses under which travel insurance agents can practice. In California, for example, the agency must be licensed and the agents undergo state mandated training and work under that agency's license.
Step 3: Seek an Entry-Level Position
With the required licensure, these professionals are qualified for employment as a travel insurance agent. Once hired, entry-level travel agents typically require on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced agent. Common employers of travel insurance agents include travel agencies, travel insurance companies, airlines and other transportation services. Keep in mind that some employers seek agents with training in a specific area of travel, such as cruises or a particular destinations.
Step 4: Advancement through Networking and Education
As you gain experience as a travel agent, you may improve advancement opportunities by obtaining professional certification. The International Air Transport Association offers the Travel and Tourism Professional credential, which requires 2 to 3 years of experience, based on the agent's level of education. In addition to certification, professional organization membership can provide networking and advancement opportunities. For example, the US Travel Insurance Association offers member access to newsletter, an annual conference, networking opportunities and other industry resources.
A career as a travel insurance agent requires a high school diploma or the equivalent and, in some states, licensure as well as on-the-job training.