Travel agents provide clients with vacation and travel arrangements, including booking transportation and accommodations, without incurring a cost for themselves. While no specific requirements exist for becoming a travel agent, having earned certification along with your bachelor’s degree could increase job opportunities and make you more marketable. Learning about available certification options for travel agents will assist in selecting one for yourself.
In this article, we cover what a travel agent certification is and provide steps on how to earn it,
Travel agent certification is a document verifying that an agent has completed a specific training course or passed an exam or training program, to prepare them for work with cruise lines, airlines, travel agencies, corporate travel departments and tour companies. There are various entry-level to advanced programs for achieving travel agent certification.
Requirements for becoming a travel agent.
Travel agents don’t need a license or certificate to become travel agents, though many employers prefer candidates who have completed formal training in tourism and related areas such as travel or hospitality. Many agencies also require candidates possess an accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited college or university in business administration or liberal arts.
Some states mandate travel agents register with their state where they operate, typically by filling out and paying a registration form and fee, along with getting an identification number to display at their place of business. Travel agents usually also obtain errors and omissions insurance to protect against claims alleging negligent actions or poor work done by other travel agents.
Travel agent certifications
Here are a few travel agent certifications you could pursue:
Certified Travel Associate (CTA)
The Travel Institute offers CTA certification for travel agents who have successfully completed its training program. To qualify for it, either have at least one year of industry experience or pass the Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) test which comprises 100 multiple-choice questions over two hours under proctored test conditions.
Training program offerings encompass office skills, consumer-based professionalism and specialized travel sales techniques, with electives such as time management or selling travel packages as electives. In order to maintain certification status, continuing education must also be completed regularly.
Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE)
To be eligible for The Travel Institute’s C TIE Certification program, at least five years of experience is necessary. Courses included in this program cover advanced elements of travel business management; topics include marketing management, bookkeeping, mutually beneficial conflict resolution and logistics of travel law. You have up to 18 months to complete it.
Certified Travel Counselor (CTC)
The CTC certification from The Travel Institute requires at least five years of experience and CTA certification, along with courses on consumer relationships and marketing that focus on effective presentation tactics, productive management of office politics and creating marketing strategies. To maintain your certification, complete continuing education classes.
ASTA Verified Travel Adviser (VTA)
The American Society of Travel Agents’ Verified Travel Adviser (VTA) certification program can increase your understanding of legal and ethical issues while strengthening consumer trust. The nine-course curriculum includes legal overview of travel agency industry, ethics for travel advisers, U.S. regulatory compliance compliance for travel agency operations and agency relationships and law. In addition, students receive a thorough analysis of ASTA’s code of ethics.
Participation in the VTA certification program incurs a fee, and to keep your certification current you’ll need to renew every year. Most of ASTA’s courses take 60-90 minutes each to complete and consist of online video, manual, and examination; once each exam has been successfully passed you receive a certificate of completion; you’ll then earn your VTA certificate after having taken nine courses!
Certified Cruise Counselor (CCC)
CLIA provides travel agents who want to specialize in cruising with an Individual Agent Member Certificate for CCC Certification. In order to be eligible, an IAM must remain an active IAM throughout their certification program completion period.
Your 18 months from registration are available to meet and submit all certification requirements and documentation for certification. Once you’ve earned the CCC credential, keep your CLIA IAM membership status active to preserve it; should any membership lapse occur, reinstatement fees can help restore it.
Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC)
CLIA agents affiliated with IAMs must hold the ACC certification to qualify. Agents have two years from registration date to fulfill all certification requirements and submit documentation, which may include:
Attending CLIA live training events for an additional 80 credits.
Once you’ve earned an ACC credential, maintain an active CLIA IAM membership status to maintain it and your designation. Any lapses may incur reinstatement fees.
Master Cruise Counselor (MCC)
CLIA also offers another certification, the IAM Certification. An ACC qualification entitles one to this accreditation; additionally, 90 credits of mandatory training and 40 credits of elective training must also be completed along with product knowledge that includes ship inspections, personal cruise experiences and stateroom sales. In order to maintain active membership status within CLIA IAM status and pay reinstatement fees if membership lapses.
Elite Cruise Counselor (ECC)
To earn this certification, one must be an active IAM and also complete and obtain credits through various certification exams such as the Accredited Compliance Coordinator Credential and IAM Credential.
live seminars or certificate programs offered through CLIA offer elective training with 50 credits of elective credits in ship inspection
personal cruise experiences and stateroom sales knowledge.
As with other CLIA certifications, you have two years to fulfill the certification requirements for IAM status certification. If your membership lapses during that time frame, an reinstatement fee will need to be paid before reinstatement can take place.
Consider other means of becoming certified travel agent
Here are different approaches you can take towards earning travel agent certification:
Complete a certificate program
If you are interested in enrolling in educational programs for travel agents, there are various options to choose from. Certificate programs for travel agents are widely offered at technical schools, universities, community colleges and other institutions and typically feature coursework related to topics like these:
Tourism sales and marketing
Computer reservations systems
The tourism and travel profession
Travel agent certificate programs typically consist of one semester-long programs that emphasize the duties and responsibilities of travel agents. Some tourism or travel certificate programs also offer internship opportunities which may provide valuable experience working alongside professionals in the industry and learning how they use online reservation systems; becoming familiar with popular travel destinations while learning to sell those packages to customers may also prove advantageous.
Earn an associate degree
An associate degree in tourism and travel provides more comprehensive knowledge about how the tourism industry functions; typically this program teaches courses such as:
International travel and tourism
Hospitality information systems
Tourism planning and development
Diverse types of courses may award certificates upon successful completion:
Hospitality industry course
This course gives an in-depth view of the travel industry. Coursework typically covers topics like branding, sales and reservations technologies as well as food and beverage services and the history of hospitality industries.
Itinerary planning course:
This course provides you with the tools to hone your travel planning skills. The curriculum of the course focuses on finding flight availability as well as packages including hotels and cars.
International travel course
If you’re curious about global relations and how they affect travel, this course could prove invaluable. Topics covered in the study include international reservations, currency exchanges and US customs procedures.
Travel Agent skills needed
Customer service skills
As a travel agent, it’s essential that you meet your clients’ needs in an efficient and professional manner, helping expand your clientele base.
Travel agents perform research, book tickets, and handle communications between airlines and other parties online. Being proficient with both computers and conducting online research are essential in fulfilling their responsibilities as travel agents.
Your travel arrangements could encounter difficulties, so it’s crucial that they’re resolved efficiently in order to meet client needs. Weather delays or other unforeseeable factors might require adjustments on travel dates; so be prepared.
If you work with numerous resorts, hotels or travel destinations, negotiating deals for your clients could become part of your role. Knowing where the best prices can be found while fulfilling client requests is a key skill that should not be neglected.