Travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and admission to entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients.


Travel agents typically do the following:

  • Arrange travel for business and vacation clients
  • Determine clients’ needs and preferences, such as schedules and costs
  • Plan and arrange tour packages, excursions, and day trips
  • Find fare and schedule information
  • Calculate total travel costs
  • Book reservations for travel, hotels, rental cars, and special events, such as tours and excursions
  • Describe trips to clients and advise about local customs and attractions 
  • Give details on required documents, such as passports and visas, and on complying with cross-border entry requirements, such as health and safety protocols
  • Make alternative booking arrangements if changes arise before or during the trip

Travel agents sort through vast amounts of information to find and arrange the best trip options for travelers. In addition, resorts and specialty groups use travel agents to promote vacation packages to their clients.

Travel agents may visit destinations to get firsthand experience so that they can make recommendations to clients. They visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants to evaluate the comfort, cleanliness, and quality of establishments. Self-employed travel agents may have additional responsibilities related to running their business, such as recordkeeping, managing staff, and marketing. However, travel agents most of their time talking with clients, promoting tours, and contacting airlines and hotels to make travel accommodations.

The following are examples of types of travel agents:

Leisure travel agents sell vacation packages to the public. They are responsible for arranging trip itineraries based on clients’ interests and budget. Leisure travel agents often focus on a specific geographic area or type of travel, such as adventure tours. Some cater to a specific group, such as students or single people.

Corporate travel agents, also called travel coordinators, primarily make travel arrangements for businesses. They book transportation and accommodations for an organization’s employees who are traveling to conduct business or attend conferences.

Work Environment

Travel agents held about 46,200 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of travel agents were as follows:

Travel arrangement and reservation services                    71%
Self-employed workers 16

Travel agents typically spend much of their day sitting, working on the phone and on the computer. Agents may face stress during travel emergencies or unanticipated schedule changes.

Work Schedules

Most travel agents work full time, although part-time work is common. Some work additional hours during peak travel times or when they must accommodate clients’ schedule changes and last-minute needs.

Education and Training

A high school diploma typically is required to become a travel agent. However, employers may prefer to hire candidates who have sales experience or relevant certification or education. Communication and customer service skills are essential.


Travel agents typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the occupation, but employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a college degree or who have taken courses related to the travel industry.

Community colleges, vocational schools, and industry associations may offer technical training, certificates, or continuing education in professional travel planning. In addition, some 4-year colleges offer degrees in travel and tourism. Courses usually focus on reservations systems, marketing, and regulations regarding international travel.


Employers in the travel industry typically provide on-the-job training that lasts at least 1 month. This training covers topics such as how to operate computer systems that are used in the industry. For example, a travel agent could be trained to work with a reservation system used by several airlines.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

High school graduates with limited experience may demonstrate competence by taking the Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) test. The test has no eligibility requirements, but study and preparation may be required. The test is administered by The Travel Institute.

The Travel Institute also provides training and professional credentials for travel agents at three different experience levels. These credentialing programs are the Certified Travel Associate (CTA), Certified Travel Counselor (CTC), and Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE). To maintain the credential, each program requires continuing education annually.

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) offers credentialing and educational programs for those seeking to become a travel agent. ASTA offers the Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) program and the ASTA Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) offers four levels of certification: Certified (CCC), Accredited (ACC), Master (MCC), and Elite Cruise Counselor (ECC). Each level requires a certain amount of training and product knowledge.

Some states require travel agents to have a business license, to register with the state, or to meet other conditions. Requirements vary by state. Contact individual state licensing agencies for more information.

Other Experience

Some agencies prefer to hire travel agents who have extensive traveling experience. These agencies especially prefer travel agents who focus on particular destinations or types of travelers, such as groups with a special interest or corporate travelers. Agencies also may prefer to hire travel agents who have sales experience.

Personality and Interests

Travel agents typically have an interest in the Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a travel agent, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Travel agents should also possess the following specific qualities:

Adventurousness. Travel agencies that specialize in exotic destinations or particular types of travel, such as adventure travel or ecotourism, may prefer to hire travel agents who share these interests.

Communication skills. Travel agents must listen to customers, understand their travel needs, and offer appropriate travel advice and information.

Customer-service skills. When customers need to make last-minute changes in their travel arrangements, travel agents must be able to respond to questions and complaints in a friendly and professional manner.

Detail oriented. Travel agents must pay attention to details in order to ensure that the reservations they make match travelers’ needs. They must make reservations at the correct dates, times, and locations to meet travelers’ schedules. 

Organizational skills. Travel agents should have strong organizational skills because they often work on itineraries for many customers at once. Keeping client information in order and ensuring that bills and receipts are processed in a timely manner is essential.

Sales skills. Travel agents must be able to persuade clients to buy transportation, lodging, or tours. Sometimes they might need to persuade tour operators, airline staff, or others to take care of their clients’ special needs. Earnings for many travel agents depend on commissions and service fees.


The median annual wage for travel agents was $43,810 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,280, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,220.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for travel agents in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Travel arrangement and reservation services                      $39,190

These wage data include money earned from commissions. Earnings for many travel agents depend on commissions and service fees.

Most travel agents work full time, although part-time work is common. Some work additional hours during peak travel times or when they must accommodate clients’ schedule changes and last-minute needs.

Job Outlook

Employment of travel agents is projected to grow 20 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 7,500 openings for travel agents are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 


Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession of 2020 and is likely to occur early in the projections decade.

Demand is expected to increase for travel agents’ specialized skills in giving clients a personalized travel experience through their recommendations, advice, and ability to handle travel issues. As people continue to resume travel, they are expected to look to travel agents for advice on popular or unique travel destinations and experiences.

However, the ability of travelers to use online resources to research vacations and book their own trips may limit demand for travel agents.

For More Information

For more information about training opportunities and optional certificates, visit

American Society of Travel Agents

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

The Travel Institute




Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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