By Sarah Stevenson
Fortunately, you don't have to go far at all to become a travel agent—training programs are frequently offered at local community colleges or vocational schools—and you'll even be able to find travel agent online training.
If you love to travel, travel agents are able to do just that, often with reduced transportation and lodging rates. The career itself usually entails helping individuals, families, groups or business travelers make the best travel arrangements possible. This includes sifting through information on potential destinations, travel packages, lodging arrangements and transportation; offering advice; and making bookings. Some travel agents work directly for resorts, specialty travel groups, or tour operators.
The job involves these types of tasks:
- A lot of time spent on the phone or computer
- Researching available travel options
- Making arrangements
- Conferring with clients or with airlines and hotels
- Excellent interpersonal communication skills
- Computer savvy
- Solid background knowledge of destinations and itineraries
- Being organized and attentive to detail
Travel Agent Training
Educational programs, from bachelor's or master's degrees in tourism to postsecondary vocational awards to travel agent online training, provide a critical foundation in subject areas necessary to succeed in the field. Continuing or professional education is also important—a travel agent needs to stay abreast of the latest travel offerings and be able to assist increasingly well-informed consumers—and professionals can find specialized courses through travel agent online training programs.
With constantly-improving technological resources and an increased government focus on education through distance and online learning, it should come as no surprise that you can earn a large number of certifications and degrees online—an A.S. in Travel Marketing, a Certified Travel Counselor certification, and the Corporate Travel Expert certification are only a few of the options that can be completed wholly or partially through travel agent online training. Courses are usually offered by professional travel organizations, by community colleges, and by specialized travel schools.
Organizations of travel professionals, such as the American Society of Travel Agents, the National Business Travel Association, or the Travel Institute, are good places to start looking for travel agent online training that will get you the certification you need to start a career as a travel agent. The ASTA maintains a list of member schools throughout the U.S., many of which offer distance or online courses in travel specializations. The Travel Institute has a searchable database of licensed schools offering travel curriculum and certifications, while the NBTA directly offers professional development for those interested in business and government travel.