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What Education Is Necessary for a Career As a Travel Agent?

While there are no specific education requirements to work as a travel agent beyond a high school diploma, many employers prefer job applicants who have some postsecondary training. Read this article to learn more.

Education Requirements for Travel Agents

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most travel agents only need a high school diploma to find work, and employers frequently offer on-the-job training programs. However, relevant postsecondary certificate and degree programs are available in hospitality management, travel marketing, tourism and similar topics. Many employers prefer prospective travel agents who have completed some postsecondary education.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Pay$38,700 (2018)*
Job OutlookEmployment expected to decline 12% between 2016 and 2026*
Work Environment15% of travel agents were self-employed in 2016; most work in busy offices, but some work remotely*
Similar OccupationsMeeting and event planners, sales representatives, secretaries and administrative assistants, hotel and resort managers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Training Programs

Relevant programs are offered through vocational schools, community colleges and even 4-year universities. Potential program titles can include Travel Services Certificate, Associate in Science in Travel and Tourism or Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism. Such programs emphasize topics related to the travel industry, as well as the food service, recreation and lodging industries. In some cases, you can gain hands-on experience through school-approved internships.

Common Coursework

Educational programs for aspiring travel agents might include coursework in global attractions, rating systems for hotels and spas, travel marketing and tourism systems. Other topics of study may include:

  • Customizing a vacation plan
  • Cruise & tour packages
  • Tours & meetings management
  • Distant area studies
  • Legal aspects of tourism & hospitality
  • Finance in the tourism industry

Voluntary Certification

While certification is not necessary to become a travel agent, earning a professional credential demonstrates a higher level of knowledge. The Travel Institute provides certification at three levels: Certified Travel Associate (CTA), Certified Travel Counselor and Certified Travel Industry Executive. Each designation requires successful completion of an exam and online coursework administered by the Travel Institute. If you have 18 months of experience, however, you can elect to take only the exam for the CTA credential.