Travel advisor taking a training course. (photo via JLco – Julia Amaral /iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Travel agent certification and whether or not a seller of travel needs certification to sell travel are some of the more confusing parts of the profession.
In simplest terms, agents do not need certification to sell travel in the U.S. or most of Canada. However, travel agents who obtain certification and take more educational classes, earn more as professional advisors. In fact, the Travel Institute found a direct correlation between earnings and agent education. Agents who had obtained travel industry certifications from the Travel Institute had sales that were approximately $60,000 more than their uncertified counterparts. Overall earnings were also higher by about $20,000 per year.
“Whether you are new to the industry, a manager looking for new agent training, or a supplier looking to train call center staff, the first step should always be broad-based, foundational industry education,” explained Guida Botelho, CTIE, director of training for The Travel Institute.
There are many different certification programs within the travel industry that provide various educational opportunities but actual travel agent certification is provided by institutions and associations not affiliated with destinations, travel agencies or travel companies.
The Travel Institute Travel Agent Certifications
The Travel Institute offers several different levels of certification for travel agents, including the Certified Travel Association, Certified Travel Counselor and the Certified Travel Industry Executive.
Those who are looking to start their career can use the Travel Institute’s TRIPKIT introductory course, which offers in-depth, self-paced learning in both textbook and online formats that can be accessed anytime.
TRIPKIT includes a 19-lesson, self-paced timeline that guides students through a comprehensive overview of booking air, ground, accommodations, cruises, tours and packages. It also exposes students to the nuances of booking travel today including industry technology, marketing, economics, geography, weather, cultural events and more.
The course concludes with the Travel Agent Proficiency Test (TAP), which, if passed, demonstrates knowledge of the basics of the travel industry. Once passed, travel agents can move on to take courses to complete higher-level certifications or boost their knowledge of destinations, niche markets and more through the Travel Institute.
ASTA’s Verified Travel Agent Certification Program
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) offers the Verified Travel Agent Certification Program. The program ensures that graduates hold a high level of verifiable professional knowledge and demonstrate their proficiency, professionalism and dedication to the industry.
Students tackle ethics, law, and regulatory compliance within the travel industry paired with strong and timely subject matter from leading educators.
Any travel agent (advisor) that meets the membership criteria to join ASTA, anywhere in the world, can enroll in the Verified Travel Advisor program.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Travel Agent Certifications
Like ASTA, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) offers various types of travel agent certifications. New travel agents start by obtaining the Certified Cruise Counselor certification and can then progress to Accredited Cruise Counselor, Master Cruise Counselor, Elite Cruise Counselor or Travel Agent Executive.
Students must join CLIA before enrolling in the classes, and CLIA provides career counseling for those who have questions about each level of certification or about the courses themselves.
Other Travel Agent Certifications
Travel agents also have a lot of options for specific certifications that pertain to niche designations such as weddings and honeymoons, cruise, family travel and more.
Travel advisors can look to host agencies, Travel Agent Academy, associations, tourism boards and more for special certifications that designate them as experts in particular fields.
Some institutions, such as Travel Agent Academy, provide credit units for other certifications. Travel advisors can earn Travel Institute CEU Credits for some courses and others offer credits from the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA).