A travel counselor is a certified agent that assists clients in planning trips and travel. Certification in this field requires coursework and multiple steps, and travel counselors may work for agencies or corporations.
A travel counselor is a travel agent who has years of experience and who has also earned certification through a trade organization. These professionals advise clients on interesting vacation destinations and attractions. They also handle airline, hotel and rental car bookings and explain local customs and conditions to their clients.
Employers often only require travel counselor applicants to have the equivalent of a high school diploma, though some prefer to hire travel agents who have more industry-specific training. To become certified, individuals need to complete specified coursework and meet other requirements.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED|
|Other Requirements||Completion of certification training coursework; have prior work experience; meet other certification prerequisites; pass certification exams|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||Travel Agent: -12%*|
|Median (2015)||Travel Agent: $35,660*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Travel counselors earn certification through a travel industry organization, such as The Travel Institute. There are several steps one must take to earn certification:
Step One: Earn a CTA (Certified Travel Assistant)
A CTA credential requires at least 18 months of full-time travel industry experience. Applicants must complete the self-study training program, which consists of eight core courses and four electives. Core courses include customer service, professionalism, business writing, touring the world and special interest travel. Electives range from itineraries to all-inclusive resorts to travel insurance. Once individuals complete the courses and pass the CTA test, they will need to submit to recertification every year.
Step Two: Earn a CTC (Certified Travel Counselor)
Those wishing to earn the CTC must be CTAs and have at least five years of full-time industry experience. They must successfully complete the CTC curriculum, consisting primarily of business, finance and management courses. They must complete an exam and a 2,000- to 3,000-word 'white paper', which covers a topic timely and relevant to the travel industry. Once certified, travel counselors must recertify each year.
To begin this process, one must first find employment in the travel industry. Individuals can prepare by attending a college that has a program in travel and tourism. These tend to be 2-year programs and are offered at many community colleges. These curricula teach students about the basics of the travel industry as well as essentials of other related fields like geography and marketing.
Career and Salary Information
Travel counselors may work for independent agencies or they may obtain corporate employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated a 12% job decline for travel agents between 2014 and 2024. Travel agents earned $35,660 as a median annual wage in May 2015.
A travel counselor is a certified travel agent who works with clients to arrange travel and accommodations. Professional certification in this field requires at least five years of full-time experience in the travel industry, and must be renewed on a yearly basis. Aspiring travel counselors should take into account the projected decline in job openings over the 2014-2024 decade, which will drop by 12% in this period.