Selecting an Online Travel Agent School
|Program Levels||Certificate programs, associate's degree|
|Field(s) of Study||Travel planning/travel agent prep|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Online Availability||Asynchronous online programs are available (student can start and finish on their own)|
|Program Length||6-12 months for certificate programs; 2 years for associate's degrees|
|Licensure/Certification||National certification available|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Online travel agent schools and colleges offer programs at the certificate and associate's degree level. In either program, students learn about computer reservation systems and the basics for successful travel planning through interactive modules. Students can also obtain national travel agent certification through online courses.
Students considering an online travel agent school can choose among certificate or associate's degree programs. Colleges often offer such programs through their continuing education divisions, although most students do not need to complete specific prerequisites to enroll. However, students may benefit from courses in areas including geography, math, computer skills and oral communications.
Most online travel agent programs are offered asynchronously, with students allowed to start and finish the courses on their own. Students are often paired up with an instructor who can offer guided assistance through e-mail and provide feedback on student performance. Certificate programs generally take six months to a year for students to complete, while associate's degree programs take two years.
Travel Agent Certification Prep
Certain online travel agent schools can prepare students to take the Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) exam. This nationally-recognized certification was developed through the American Society of Travel Agents and The Travel Institute and is administered independently. The multiple-choice exam may also be taken online. Some schools require students to successfully pass the examination before they can graduate from a travel agent certificate or associate's degree program. For those who graduate, the six months of work experience that is mandated for professional travel agent certification (CTA) is waived, and they can earn their CTA in one year.
Common Online Travel Agent Programs
The two most common online options for travel agent programs are a certificate program and an associate of applied science in business travel agency operations.
An online travel agent certificate is geared toward students who want entry-level jobs in the travel industry, including careers with airlines, car rental companies or travel agencies. Some programs offer instruction in the use of live database-emulation products, including Apollo, Galileo, Worldspan, Amadeus GDS or Sabre to make travel arrangements. Typical online courses cover:
- Regulatory agencies
- Computerized reservation systems
- World geography
- Vacation packages
- Cruises and group travel
A distance-learning associate of applied science in business with a focus on travel agency operations is ideal for students who already have a travel agent certificate and wish to perfect their skills. Students may spend time learning basic travel agent operating systems, such as TRAMS ClientBase and TRAMS Back Office. The 2-year program includes classes in:
- Office procedures
- Hospitality legal issues
- Sales and marketing
- Planning itineraries
- Air travel operations
Online travel agent certificate and associate degree programs teach students the basic skills needed to work within the industry and are usually offered as continuing education to be completed online.