8 Travel Agent Certifications (And How To Earn One)
Updated September 29, 2023
A travel agent is someone who organizes vacation and travel arrangements for clients, including booking their transportation and lodging. While there are no specific requirements to become a travel agent, holding a certification along with a bachelor's degree may create more job opportunities and make you more marketable. Learning about the different options for travel agent certifications can help you decide which one to pursue.
In this article, we discuss what a travel agent certification is, explain the steps you can take to earn one and provide a list of eight certifications to consider.
What is a travel agent certification?
A travel agent certification is a document certifying that a travel agent has taken a specific course of training. Travel agents can obtain certification after passing an exam or completing a training program that prepares them for jobs with cruise lines, airlines, travel agencies, corporate travel departments and tour companies. Travel agent certification options range from entry-level to advanced programs.
Requirements for being a travel agent
Travel agents don't need a certificate or license but many employers prefer candidates who have completed some formal training in tourism, travel or a related field. Many agencies also require candidates to have a degree in business or liberal arts from an accredited college or university.
Some states require travel agents to register with the state where they work. This process typically involves filling out a registration form, paying a fee and getting a registration number that travel agents display at their place of business. Travel agents usually get errors and omissions insurance, which is a form of professional liability insurance that protects them against claims of negligent actions or inadequate work.
8 travel agent certifications
Here are some of the travel agent certifications you can pursue:
1. Certified Travel Associate (CTA)
The CTA certification from The Travel Institute is for travel agents who have completed this training program. To qualify for it, you must have at least one year of industry experience or complete the Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) test, which is a two-hour proctored test that consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.
The training program includes courses about office skills, consumer-focused professionalism and specialized travel sales techniques. It also includes electives with options that range from time management to sales of specialized travel packages. To keep the certification, complete relevant continuing education.
2. Certified Travel Counselor (CTC)
The CTC certification is also from The Travel Institute. To qualify for this program, you need at least five years of experience and a CTA certification. The courses included in this training program focus on consumer relationships and marketing and the classes discuss effective presentation tactics, productive management of office politics and the development of marketing strategies. To keep the certification, complete relevant continuing education.
3. Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE)
To qualify for the CTIE certification program, which is also from The Travel Institute, you can have at least five years of experience in the field. Courses included in the program cover advanced elements of travel business management, and topics include marketing management, bookkeeping, mutually beneficial conflict resolution and the logistics of travel law. You have up to 18 months to complete the program.
4. ASTA Verified Travel Adviser (VTA)
The ASTA Verified Travel Adviser (VTA) certification program from the American Society of Travel Agents can broaden your knowledge about legal and ethical issues and boost consumer trust. This program comprises nine courses, including a legal overview of the travel agency industry, ethics for travel advisers, the U.S. travel agency regulatory compliance and the agency relationships and law. The curriculum of the program includes a thorough analysis of the code of ethics of ASTA.
There's a fee to participate in the VTA certification program. To maintain your VTA certification, you renew your membership every year. The majority of the courses that ASTA offers take 60 to 90 minutes to complete and consist of an online video, manual and examination. Once you've passed each course exam, you receive a certificate of completion. You can earn the VTA certificate once you've completed the nine courses.
5. Certified Cruise Counselor (CCC)
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) offers the CCC certification, which is for travel agents who want to specialize in cruising. To qualify for this certification, you need to be an active Individual Agent Member (IAM) and remain active during the completion period of the certification program.
You have 18 months from the date of registration to meet the certification requirements and submit documentation. Once you've obtained the CCC credential, keep your CLIA IAM membership status active to maintain the certification. If you have a membership lapse, a reinstatement fee can help you reinstate your status.
6. Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC)
The ACC certification, which is also from the CLIA, is for CLIA-affiliated agents. To qualify for this certification, an active IAM is crucial. You have two years from the date of registration to complete the certification requirements and submit documentation. The requirements include:
40 credits in CLIA online or live courses or seminars
80 credits from electives
Attendance at a CLIA live training event
Achievement of the Travel Institute's CTA designation
Once you've obtained the ACC credential, maintain an active CLIA IAM status to maintain your designation. If you have a membership lapse, you might pay a reinstatement fee.
7. Master Cruise Counselor (MCC)
This is another certification from the CLIA. An ACC certification qualifies for this certification. You can also complete the mandatory training for 90 credits, the elective training for 40 credits and product knowledge, which includes ship inspections, personal cruise experiences and stateroom sales. To maintain this certification, you must maintain active CLIA IAM status and you pay a reinstatement fee if you have a membership lapse.
8. Elite Cruise Counselor (ECC)
To qualify for this certification, you must be an active IAM. You must also complete the ACC credential and earn credits from:
Online courses, live seminars or certificate programs
A CLIA certificate program
Elective training, which is 50 credits
Product knowledge, such as ship inspections, personal cruise experiences and stateroom sales
You have two years to meet the certification requirements. As with other CLIA certifications, you must maintain active IAM status to maintain your designation. If you have a membership lapse, you can pay a reinstatement fee.
Other ways to earn a travel agent certification
Here are different approaches you can take to earn a travel agent certification:
Complete a certificate program
If you want to enroll in educational programs, there are several options from which you can choose. Certificate programs for travel agents are available at technical schools, universities, community colleges and other institutions. These programs typically include coursework in relevant subjects, including:
Tourism sales and marketing
Computer reservations systems
The tourism and travel profession
A travel agent certificate program is typically a one-semester program that focuses on the duties and responsibilities of travel agents. Some tourism or travel certificate programs may offer the opportunity to complete an internship, which can be valuable because it allows you to work with people in the industry and understand how they use online reservation systems. You may also become familiar with popular travel destinations and learn how to sell those travel packages to customers.
Earn an associate degree
You may also complete an associate degree to earn a certificate. An associate degree in tourism and travel is more comprehensive and can lead to other career opportunities. This degree program teaches you how the tourism industry operates and usually includes the following courses:
International travel and tourism
Hospitality information systems
Tourism planning and development
Various kinds of courses may offer certificates upon completion:
Hospitality industry course: This course provides you with a wide overview of the travel industry. Coursework usually includes branding, sales and reservations technologies, along with the influence of food and beverage services and the history of the hospitality industry.
Itinerary planning course: This course allows you to develop your skills in planning a travel itinerary. The curriculum of the course focuses on finding flight availability and providing packages for hotels and cars.
International travel course: You might find this course helpful if you're interested in global relations and how they can affect travel. Topics of the study include making international reservations, currency exchanges and United States customs procedures.
Travel agent skills
A certificate program can help you develop the following travel agent skills:
Customer service skills: As a travel agent, it's important to be professional and helpful in meeting the needs of your clients, which may help you expand your client base.
Computer knowledge: Travel agents complete research, make bookings and handle communication with airlines and other parties online. Being adept at using computers and doing online research is necessary to complete your duties as a travel agent.
Problem-solving skills: You might experience challenges when arranging travel plans, so it's necessary to resolve issues efficiently to meet the needs of your clients. For instance, weather-related delays and other unforeseeable factors sometimes require you to make adjustments on the date of travel.
Negotiation skills: If you work with many of the same resorts, hotels or other travel destinations, you may likely negotiate deals for your clients. Being able to find the best deals while fulfilling clients' requests is an important skill to have.
Travel agent salary
The average annual salary for a travel agent is $53,457 per year. Travel agents may receive benefits such as a 401(k), health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance and paid time off. Your salary can also depend on the city and state in which you work and your experience level.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided. Also, please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Explore more articles
- How To Make Email Links Open With Gmail in Chrome By Default
- 100 Business Ideas with Low Startup Costs
- How To Become a Flight Attendant
- 10 Examples of Training Programs and Their Benefits
- How To Calculate the Average Rate of Change in 5 Steps
- How To Write a Personal Essay in 8 Simple Steps (With Tips)
- How To Mediate Conflict in the Workplace (With 9 Tips)
- 9 Mechanical Engineering Certifications for Your Career
- 12 Fun Icebreaker Ideas for Small Groups
- 27 Do's and Don'ts for How To Talk To Your Boss
- How to Become a Game Tester
- What To Do When You Are Feeling Incompetent at Work