Travel Agent Requirements: Education & Licensing

Becoming a travel agent sounds like a dream job—meeting interesting people, visiting exotic locations, bringing joy to others who share your love of traveling. This exciting career opportunity can help you achieve all of these things.

However, it is important to be prepared for some hard work and creative planning. You should also be aware of the travel agent requirements before diving in, so you can be sure you do everything right the first time.

Trapper Martin, Dream Vacations in Belle Isle, Fla.

Is It Hard to Become a Travel Agent?

No. There are efficient routes you can take to becoming a travel agent, whether you start off part-time, or if it is your full-time business and career. You will be running a business, so any past experience, education, and training you can bring with you will be beneficial.

That doesn’t mean you need to be an expert in the travel industry before you begin, in fact most people who start a travel agency business have no past travel agent experience. Skills in business, finance, organization, marketing, event planning, and other areas can help in becoming a successful travel agent, however it is important that you love working with people and have a passion for the travel industry.

What Is Required to Become a Travel Agent?

Travel agent requirements will vary depending on where you live, what services you provide, and whether you are working alone, for a company, or with a franchise. With a home-based franchise model, there is a successful system in place with a proven track record, and the franchise will help you with any rules and regulations to be aware of in addition to certifications and training.

If you are affiliated with an established travel agency franchise, ask them for information about what is required and expected of you, as well as what additional achievements will help you advance. Be sure to ask about the travel business laws for your city and state.

The information below will help you gain a broad understanding of common travel agent requirements and how to get started.

Betty Tolleson and April Jolly, Dream Vacations in Roebuck, S.C.

What Type of Education Do You Need to Be a Travel Agent?

Fortunately, you do not need to enroll in a lengthy college program or earn a degree from a university to become a travel agent.

Certainly there are a few higher education opportunities available that may help you, so don’t rule out college as an option. You can also advance your skills and increase your knowledge of the industry with training and classroom learning.

As a travel agency franchise owner, full training, certifications and ongoing educational opportunities will be provided as part of your ongoing support the franchisor provides you with.

Formal Education

When it comes to education for a job in the travel industry, there are various levels, including certifications, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Your university may offer degree programs such as Tourism & Hospitality Management or Travel & Tourism. You can also opt for a degree in business or marketing and focus that knowledge into a travel agent business when you graduate.

You can also take individual classes or include valuable courses as electives in your degree program. Some classes may include travel management, hospitality management, business accounting, tourism marketing, or event planning.

Training

Whether you choose to earn a degree before becoming a travel agent or not, there are also training options available to help enhance your skills. It is wise to continue to seek learning opportunities even after completing a degree and/or starting your business. Industry standards and trends may change over time, and it is great to stay up to date, as well as refresh your memory from time to time.

You may also have on-the-job training or an assigned mentor if you work in conjunction with a larger travel company. If you work independently, you may still be able to set up a partnership with a mentor, which can be highly beneficial when starting a new business endeavor. Someone who has recently done the same thing can help you avoid many of the mistakes they made and provide answers to your questions when you get stuck.

Do You Need a Certificate to Become a Travel Agent?

Travel agent requirements do not necessarily include certifications, so if you want to get started without one, it is absolutely possible. However, there are certificate programs you can enroll in that provide valuable training and accreditation, which helps build trust with your clients. If you have the time and financial resources to enroll in a certificate program, it is highly unlikely you will regret it.

In most cases, earning a certificate means passing a fairly difficult exam and proving you have specific experience. If you become a travel agent with a franchise, they will provide training that includes company certificate programs. These will help you prepare for the job and advance in the future.

Do You Need a License to Become a Travel Agent?

Obtaining a travel agent license takes some time and is not always necessary. However, you will most likely need some type of business license or employee identification number.

Travel Agent License vs. Business License

Fortunately, starting a travel agency often means working from home, which means the startup costs are minimal. However, you will still become the owner of a business and are responsible for the legal obligations associated with running that business. Some of the options for legally operating a business include a sole proprietorship, an LLC, and a corporation.

You may want to research the pros and cons of each of these to make sure you are choosing the right one for you. If you are working with a franchise travel agency that is already a corporation, find out what the requirements are for owning a franchise.

For LLCs

One of the biggest reasons businesses become LLCs is to protect the owner from losing personal assets. If you end up with an extremely unhappy customer who wants to sue the company, they are limited to the assets of the company and cannot come after you personally.

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Successful Travel Agent?

As a travel agent, you will need to do so much more than book hotels and airfare for people who know exactly what they want. You will be in the unique position of helping them plan the majority of details for the perfect vacation.

You will need to be familiar with a variety of vacation products, such as resorts, tours, cruises and more, as well as destinations across the globe. Each type of vacation has varying price ranges and varying amenities. For example, some resorts have family-friendly activities while others cater to couples and adults.

You will also need to know about excursions, tours, and landmarks. It helps if you can get your clients into the popular activities as well as recommend unique experiences and “secret” spots.

Looking After Overlooked Details

Other details that are often overlooked include educating your clients about local transportation and how to get where they need to. You may even help them arrange to be picked up and dropped off for different activities.

It also helps if you can recommend the best places to eat in the area that meet their specifications, such as family-friendly, romantic, or budget-conscious. Don’t forget to learn the best times of year to visit, when the weather is best and the crowds or prices are lower.

The Business Side of Things

In addition to a familiarity with the destinations you offer, you will need to know how to run your business successfully. This means you are capable of marketing your business and bringing in enough clients to stay in business year-round. It also means understanding accounting and taxes for your business.

You will need to know the logistics of booking, such as researching availability, finding promotional offers, putting together travel packages, and how to get in touch with all of your contacts that provide these services.

Skills to Invest In

If you lack experience and training as a travel agent and want to determine whether this is a good career for you, there are other skills and traits to consider. Below are just a few of the skills and interests that can help you.

  • Customer service
  • Computer skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Salesmanship
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Working within a set budget
  • Organizing
  • Researching
  • Communication (both with clients and vendors)
  • Ability to make applicable recommendations
  • Networking

Earn More Onboard With Us!

Dream Vacations Franchise

Dream Vacations Franchise can help you become a travel agent by providing you with all the resources you need, including travel license options and ongoing training. You’ll also have access to web-based technology systems for booking reservations, keeping track of customers, and more. Plus, you’ll have continuous support from helpful and experienced members of the travel industry. And of course, there are always the travel perks that make it easier for you to get out and see the world, rather than just sending your customers.

Learn more about Dream Vacations Franchise and how you can get started with your own franchise today.