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Travel Counselor: Job Description and Requirements

Sep 14, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a travel counselor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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.

Essential Information

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 (2018-2028) Travel Agent: -6%*
Median (2018) Travel Agent: $38,700*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certification

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.

Other Steps

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 6% job decline for travel agents between 2018 and 2028. Travel agents earned $38,700 as a median annual wage in May 2018.

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 2018-2028 decade, which will drop by 6% in this period.

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