Info About Becoming a Travel Agent

Travel agents provide customized service for clients and make arrangements for transportation, hotel reservations, and car rentals. They also accommodate any other travel requests from clients. Travel agents use computer-based sources to gather information on departure times, arrival times, fares, discounts and hotel information.

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Career Definition of a Travel Agent

Travel agents, also known as travel managers or travel consultants, are responsible for helping clients arrange travel plans to destinations for personal or business purposes. Travel agents will book transportation and lodging reservations and inform clients of any visa or passport requirements. Travelers look to their travel agents for advice on currency exchanges, weather, customs and any popular attractions. Agents are relied upon in case of a travel emergency and make any necessary arrangements or changes in itinerary.

Education Bachelor's degree is often preferred, and most training occurs on-the-job
Job Skills Organized, detail-oriented, computer-savvy, courteous, and able to communicate
Median Salary (2015)* $35,660
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 12% decline in job growth

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

While many employers prefer that applicants complete a bachelor's degree, only a high school diploma is required to become a travel agent. While in school, students should focus on classes involving geography, foreign languages and world cultures. Much of the education required for travel agents is provided by employers through on-the-job training. The American Society of Travel Agents offers travel agents the opportunity for certification through their membership program.

Skills Required

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that travel agents need to have strong organizational skills and be detailed-oriented. Agents must appear courteous and professional at all times, and it's essential that anyone in this field develop excellent communication and customer service skills. Business and computer skills can help travel agents with their sales and any record-keeping responsibilities.

Economic and Career Outlook

Job opportunities for travel agents are expected to decline by 12% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. Most opportunities were anticipated to be available through customized travel and adventure trips or tours that clients may be interested in. The reason this field will decline is because individuals are often planning and booking trips through websites, which can be more efficient and cost effective. The BLS reported that the median salary for travel agents or travel consultants was $35,660 per year in 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Other careers to consider include:

Information Clerk

Depending on the area of specialty, these clerks collect information, maintain records and pass information on to customers. Information clerks typically hold a high school diploma or have completed some postsecondary education. A slower-than-average job growth of 2% was expected in these positions from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. In 2015, the BLS revealed an annual median wage of $27,300 for information clerks and receptionists.

Meeting, Convention and Event Planner

These planners normally have bachelor's degrees and some experience working in planning or hotels, and they're responsible for coordinating all avenues of professional events and meetings. Faster-than-average employment growth of 10% was projected by the BLS for this profession during the 2014-2024 decade. The BLS reported median earnings of $46,840 per year for these planners in 2015.

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