Being a travel agent is a very flexible and rewarding career. Travel agents enjoy the satisfaction of helping individuals and corporations with their travel arrangements. They may plan an overnight business trip for a corporate individual or assist a family in planning their dream vacation. Many travel agents choose to specialize in such fields as cruises, corporate travel, historical tours, or overseas travel.
A travel agent spends a good portion of her time researching information for clients such as travel dates, flight information, hotel costs, and area attractions at the client's destination. This includes booking flights, train travel, or cruises, and making hotel reservations. Agents may also distribute flyers, brochures, schedules or maps to their clients and inform them of any requirements necessary for travel such as immunizations, passports, or other identification.
Travel agents will generally work in an office setting located either in a travel agency or their own homes. They spend a lot of time on the phone providing customer service and sales to clients while also juggling administrative duties. Most agents choose to work a 40 hour week with weekends off but some do only work part-time. During the summer, holidays and other peak travel times, hours may be extended to accommodate the additional requests.
A travel agent's salary depends greatly on his or her experience, sales skills, location, and demand. Most average between $18,000 and $35,000 annually. In addition to a regular salary and commission, an agent may enjoy rewards such as free promotional travel, discounted flights, hotel, or cruises, and other travel gifts. During recessions, travel agents may see a decline in clientele as people can't afford the luxury of leisure travel; therefore, agent commissions may decrease.
If you are interested in becoming a travel agent, a high school diploma is the minimum requirement needed but most agents will benefit from additional training in travel and tourism. Many vocational schools and colleges now offer 12-week travel programs and some colleges also offer Bachelors and Masters degrees in travel and tourism. Many states also require additional certification in order to sell travel related services. You can check with the Attorney General in your state for more information on you state's requirements.