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Travel Agent Certification and Certificate Program Overviews

Get information about travel agent certificate programs and professional certification requirements. Learn about required courses and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

College 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, like Sabre, Apollo, Worldspan or Amadeus GDS. Completion of a travel agency internship is sometimes required.

Professional certification options range from entry-level to advanced professional. Credentials can be earned through testing or a combination of coursework and testing.

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 10 percent increase in employment opportunities for 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 Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) credential available through The Travel Institute. The Certified Travel Associate (CTA) program is available 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 include around 12 self-paced courses 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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