A number of certificate programs for prospective travel planners are classroom oriented, although many are taught online. Requirements for certificate programs range from 5 non-credit classes to almost 29 semester credits. The longest of these programs generally takes two full-time semesters to complete. Information on opening a home-based travel agency is included. Some programs have no stated prerequisites, while others expect a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Certificate Program in Travel Planning
Because of the diversity of goals for travel planner certificate programs, there is a corresponding diversity in coursework. Courses may cover:
- Introduction to the travel industry
- Car rental, train accommodations, and other ground services
- Computer programs for the travel industry
- Determining fares and purchasing tickets
- How to plan personalized itineraries
- Legal information for home-based travel businesses
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated a 12% decline in employment of travel agents from 2014-2024. Job opportunities could be affected by consumers' ability to book their own travel plans online (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the median annual wage for professional travel agents was $35,660. While by far the largest number of jobs were with travel agencies and services, those who worked for the support services industry received the highest wages.
Certification and Continuing Education
Although not required, certifications are offered through The Travel Institute. The certifications available include the Certified Travel Associate (CTA), Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) and Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE). In addition to taking the certification exam, the CTA applicant must have one and a half years of full-time experience in the industry, while the CTC applicant must have a CTA and five years of experience. The CTIE applicant must have either a CTA or CTC, five years of experience and write a White Paper.
The Travel Institute also has a program to prepare entry-level workers to take the CTA test. Additionally, the institute has programs to help home-based agents, as well as lifestyle and destination specialists. It also offers certification workshops several times a year. To maintain certification, a minimum of ten CEU units must be earned annually. The institute offers a long list of approved programs.
Students who wish to work in the travel industry may pursue training through credit and noncredit certificate programs. Coursework typically covers a variety of skills related to the industry, such as itinerary planning and ticket purchasing, to prepare graduates for employment as well as professional certification through The Travel Institute.