How Do I Become a Certified Travel Associate?

Explore the career requirements for a certified travel associate career. Get the facts about education requirements, certification, salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Travel & Tourism degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Travel Associate?

Travel associates, also known as travel agents, are travel industry workers who plan trips for clients. They start by meeting with customers to find out about their needs and desires, such as financial constraints and transportation preferences. From there, they set up a trip by booking hotels, renting cars, scheduling tours and/or organizing special events. They also deal with logistical issues such as passports and international travel visas. Although certification is not required for work in this field, it is possible to earn a Certified Travel Associate designation through an industry organization.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Training Required Vocational school
Key Responsibilities Reserve flights and hotels; advise on pricing options; set up package deals
Certification Certified Travel Associate credential through The Travel Institute
Job Growth (2014-2024) -12% (for travel agents)*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $38,750 (for travel agents)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do As a Certified Travel Associate?

Whether you are self-employed or working at a travel agency, your job as a Certified Travel Associate likely involves helping customers to plan and book their vacations. This includes making reservations for flights, hotels and tours, as well as advising customers on their travel plans. A thorough knowledge of the details of pricing can help you to find the best options for each customer. You could also spend time working on any special deals or packaged trips that are offered by your company.

What Kind of Education or Training Do I Need?

Many employers prefer to hire travel associates with some formal training, which could take different forms. Some vocational and training schools in the U.S. offer degree programs for aspiring travel agents. You might also take advantage of continuing education courses in the field that might be offered by institutions of higher learning in your area. Due to the fluctuations of the industry, it is important for you to remain updated on destination trends, airline procedures and other details essential to successful travel.

To become a Certified Travel Associate (CTA), you can seek certification through a third-party association. The Travel Institute (www.travelinstitute.com) offers a CTA certification, in addition to other titles, that could demonstrate your knowledge and ability to potential clients. The certification also involves coursework that can keep your skills updated and current. The American Association of Automobiles (AAA) also offers certification, and requires earning 18 months of experience in addition to completing training courses (www.travelagenttrainingcenter.com).

Why Might This Be a Good Career Choice For Me?

Often, people choose to become Certified Travel Associates because they are interested in travel themselves, and working in the industry comes with certain travel perks. You may be able to get discounted fares on flights and hotels, and you may be asked to go on vacations in order to gather information to help the customer plan the right vacation.

What Is the Job Outlook For Certified Travel Associates?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a 12% job decline is expected for the career in the decade ranging from 2014-2024. This is a direct result of people booking their own travel arrangements on the Internet. However, BLS also notes that positions in the industry open as people leave their jobs or retire, especially for those new candidates with formal training. The BLS reports that in May 2015, travel agents made an average yearly wage of $38,750 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another job where you would get to work with travelers is in a position as a front desk clerk at a hotel or resort. Your duties would include confirming reservations, checking customers in and out, handling guest complaints and answering questions about local attractions or transportation options. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a high school diploma.

Another job related to the travel industry is a lodging manager. These professionals may perform similar duties to those of a front desk clerk, on top of managing and supervising the lodging establishment's administrative duties, including hiring and training staff, ensuring quality guest service, and resolving problems. Entry-level positions require a high school diploma and several years of experience working in the hotel or lodging industry.

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