How to Become a Travel Consultant in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become a travel consultant. Learn about job outlook, education requirements, certification and salary to find out if this is the career for you.
What Does a Travel Consultant Do?
Travel consultants, or travel agents, typically only need a high school education to get started; however, some career training may be necessary. Travel consultants plan and coordinate all travel arrangements for their clients. Their customers may be traveling for business or planning a vacation. Travel consultants will book lodging, transportation and any entertainment, such as excursions or tours. They must consider a client's preferences and budget when making decisions, as well as adjust and make any changes as plans or desires change. These professionals may have the option to travel and get first-hand experience at various locations, in order to provide customers with personal recommendations concerning things like lodging, weather or entertainment. The table below can provide more information about this field.
|Education Required||Some postsecondary education is preferred|
|Education Field of Study||Travel planning, travel consulting|
|Key Skills||Computer literacy, interpersonal and problem-solving skills, attention to detail|
|Certification||Certification is optional|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||6% decline (for all travel agents)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$38,700 (for all travel agents)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Is a Travel Consultant?
A travel consultant - also called a travel agent - is a professional who manages all business and/or leisure travel arrangements for clients. Some of your activities as a travel consultant will include making airline, hotel and car rental reservations; providing local weather, attractions, customs and events for a destination; and organizing travel tours and packages. These activities are usually tailored around client specifications or interests.
Step 1: Get Trained
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), most employers seeking travel consultants prefer those with formal training. Travel agent programs are available through vocational schools, colleges, trade associations and other organizations. The duration of these programs varies with the level of training. Programs that offer travel agent certificates may be completed within six months, whereas associate's or baccalaureate programs in travel and tourism are completed within 2-4 years. Your basic coursework for travel agent programs includes domestic and international travel, marketing and sales, geography and travel technologies.
Step 2: Consider Certification
While not required by federal or state authorities, professional certification is available on a voluntary basis and may be preferred by some employers. Certification also adds to your credibility, which may positively impact your clientele volume. There are various types of certifications, all of which are generally distinguished by their emphasis or specialty.
For example, broad-based certification as a Certified Travel Associate (CTA), Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) or Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) is available through the Travel Institute (www.thetravelinstitute.com). The American Society of Travel Agents offers certification in a specialized concentration, such as becoming a certified specialist for travel in a specific geographic region (www.asta.org). Requirements for certification vary. Some types of certification can be obtained immediately after formal training, while others require at least 18 months of full-time work experience in the travel industry.
Step 3: Join a Trade Association
Joining a travel agent or travel industry association will give you access to a variety of information and trade opportunities. These organizations generally offer educational programs, industry advocacy activities and updates, job postings and professional networking opportunities. A few of the numerous travel associations that you can join include the National Association of Career Travel Agents, the American Society of Travel Agents and the U.S. Travel Association.
Step 4: Acquire Work Experience
Regardless of where you're employed, you'll be required to analyze large amounts of and different types of travel information in order to provide client advice and coordinate travel arrangements. You could work in various environments, such as travel agencies, hotel and airline reservation service hubs and as a freelancer. The Bureau reported that as of 2018, the median annual salary for travel agents was $38,700.
Step 5: Participate in Continuing Education
Because of the volume and variety of information that you'll be responsible for, continuing education is vital. Continuing education will keep you abreast of current protocols, technologies and other information that will assist with your activities as a travel consultant. Continuing education is available through several outlets, including trade associations and some employers.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
One related career is an information clerk. Information clerks need at least a high school diploma, but typically employers are looking for someone with some form of postsecondary education or an associate's degree. They are responsible for an array of clerical tasks, like keeping detailed records and gathering information from customers. Another related career is a secretary. These professionals typically need a high school diploma. Like information clerks, they perform a variety of clerical duties. They take calls and messages, create memos, set up meetings, and create documents.