Travel Agent Certification and Certificate Program Overviews

Travel agents find and book travel reservations that best meet their clients' needs and interests. Travel agents can focus on destinations or specialize in niche travel, such as groups, honeymoons, ecotourism or business travel. Travel agent certificate programs prepare students to work in entry-level positions. Experienced professionals can enroll in professional certification programs.

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Certificate of Completion - Travel Agent

Travel agent certificate programs focus on aspects of the travel and tourism industry in addition to relevant business concepts, such as marketing and communications. Students usually learn one of the major computer reservations systems, which include Sabre, Apollo, Worldspan or Amadeus GDS. Completion of a travel agency internship is sometimes required. Graduates of travel agent certificate programs are qualified to find and compare travel deals, and make reservations for airlines, tour and vacation packages, hotels, cruises and ground transportation. They also advise clients on required travel documentation.

Educational Prerequisites

Some schools require high school diplomas or GEDs for admission into travel agency certificate programs. Students may be asked to complete placement testing or assessments prior to registering for courses. Many online travel agent certificate programs have no prerequisites for admission.

Program Coursework

Students take courses that prepare them for jobs with travel agencies, airlines, cruise lines, tour companies and corporate travel departments. The following classes are typical in a travel agent certificate program:

  • Introduction to the travel and tourism profession
  • Introduction to hospitality
  • Computer reservations systems
  • Tourism sales and marketing
  • Geography
  • Business communications

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a ten percent increase in employment opportunities for travel agents from 2010 through 2020 (www.bls.gov). The popularity of travel booking websites has slowed demand for travel agents; however, travel agents with expertise in particular destinations, types of travel or special-interest travelers still have opportunities. The median yearly salary for travel agents was $34,600 as of May 2012, the BLS noted.

Professional Certification and Credentials

Graduates of travel agent certificate programs can take the test for the entry-level national TAP credential. Experienced travel agents can work toward professional certification. The Certified Travel Associate (CTA) program has been designed for professionals who have at least 18 months of full-time experience in the travel industry; certification must be renewed annually. Travel professionals with at least five years of full-time experience can enroll in the Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) program. Both the CTA and CTC certification programs are self-paced and culminate in certification exams.

Continuing Education Information

Travel professionals who graduated from certificate programs can often transfer their credits into related associate's degree programs. Travel and tourism bachelor's degrees are also available. Professional organizations, such as the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), offer continuing education and professional development courses for travel agents at any experience level (www.asta.org).

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