Many people’s dream job is to travel and get paid!
While travel agents are only sometimes traveling, as they need to help plan and use their resources to set itineraries while getting the best deals, they must be knowledgeable about various places.
If you’re interested in becoming a travel agent, several educational paths exist to help you reach your goals.
The most common approach is an online travel and tourism diploma program, which is readily available.
If you want to dive deeper into the field, associate and bachelor’s degree programs are available but still require the fundamental core classes and can take up to four years to earn.
On the other hand, a certificate degree can be achieved in under one year.
If you’re interested in becoming a travel agent and are searching for a reputable online program, keep reading to learn more!
Best Online Travel Agent Programs
Despite being necessary for tens of thousands of travelers worldwide, travel agency positions are relatively niche.
Therefore, only a few online travel agent programs exist, including the following:
American Society of Travel Advisors
The ASTA offers a Verified Travel Advisor certification program, which helps students hone travel and tourism skills while providing a broad industry perspective.
This online, self-paced course is highly flexible, as students can complete the required coursework on their own terms.
Lessons for the primary certification include the following:
- Advanced Public Speaking – improves public speaking capabilities through actionable information.
- Agency Relationships and the Law – learn about your legal obligations to your clients, liabilities, and legal rights.
- Ethics for Travel Advisors – students must review and agree to the 12-point Code of Ethics, which builds client trust.
- Legal Overview for the Travel Agency Industry – taught by an attorney about legal issues surrounding taxes, liability, insurance, fees, and more.
- Marketing YOU! – maximize your value by promoting your business using effective marketing tactics.
- Project Management and Planning for the Travel Advisor – learn how project management and planning are critical to the industry and how to apply these techniques within your business.
- Real-World Sales Tactics – learn tactical solutions for improving your consulting and selling skills.
- The Art and Science of Negotiation – negotiating is a critical aspect of a successful travel business that allows you to get the best prices for your clients.
- U.S. Travel Agency Regulatory Compliance – helps travel advisors avoid costly regulatory mishaps.
The ASTA member program price is $399, the non-member independent travel advisor cost is $627, and the non-member travel advisor price is $789.
For those seeking re-certification, the tuition cost is $179.
As one of the leading online vocational schools, Ashworth College helps students explore travel and tourism careers.
Their diploma in travel and tourism comprises coursework like The Global Distribution System, Types of Travel, and Travel Geography.
The program begins by teaching students the business fundamentals and ends with how to establish an exciting career as a travel agent or in other travel-related fields.
Program graduates have moved into numerous careers, from corporate travel at significant companies to starting a travel agency business.
Cayuga Community College
The entirely online Tourism Management certificate from Cayuga Community College is a 30-credit-hour program that prepares students for entry-level careers as travel agents, destination marketing organizations, tourism bureaus, tour companies, or working for tourism promotion agencies, hotels, inns, cruise lines, and visitor centers.
This self-paced certificate program allows students to work and attend school on their own schedule.
The faculty teaching these courses is the same online as on-campus, and students can transfer credits from other schools instead of retaking the class.
Colorado State University
CSU offers an online master’s degree in tourism management for those looking to make a career change or advance further in the industry.
This program focuses on developing students’ business management insight, helping them understand global tourism’s environmental and social impacts, and enhancing their knowledge of standard industry practices.
Furthermore, the faculty focuses on new technology, an evolving marketplace, and international events impacting tourism activities.
Throughout the nine-month program, students will learn more about financial management tools and processes, effective communication and marketing strategies, how to use data to guide business strategies, and how to manage resources and people ethically and strategically.
The program has 30 total credits and costs $794 per credit hour, regardless of if you live in-state or out-of-state.
Cruise Lines International Association
CLIA offers numerous online certification programs, including Accredited Cruise Counselor, Certified Cruise Counselor, Master Cruise Counselor, Elite Cruise Counselor, and Travel Agency Executive (TAE), a broader certification beyond cruises.
TAE was developed for management travel agency professionals currently employed by a CLIA Affiliate Agency and may be selling travel products.
To be eligible, candidates must work in a leadership capacity within the travel industry.
Those accepted into the program have two years from enrollment to complete the program and submit the required documentation.
The curriculum includes the following mandatory courses:
- Better Listening Skills for Better Business
- Building Client Loyalty
- Cruise Industry Leadership 501
- Cruise Industry Leadership 601
- Customer Relationship Management
- Effective Cruise Presentations 101
- Marketing 101
- Public Relations 101
Attendees must also select one elective training requirement: three CLIA online courses and live seminars, earning the CTA, CTC, or CTIE designation, or holding an undergraduate or graduate business degree.
Additionally, students must have two personal travel experiences: two cruises of at least two nights or be a CLIA Global Cruise Line Member.
Penn Foster Career School
Penn Foster and Ashworth College typically frequent the same list as best online vocational schools.
Like Ashworth, Penn Foster boasts an excellent travel agent diploma.
If you are passionate about travel, the program prepares you to work for tour companies, cruise ships, airlines, and travel agencies.
Many graduates also opt to open a travel agency business or in a corporate travel position.
The travel agent course prepares students for the Travel Agent Proficiency certification exam.
The curriculum includes Computerized Reservation Systems, Tours and Vacation Packages, Exploring the World, International Travel, World Geography, North American Air Travel, and The Travel Professional.
The school also offers a Destination Specialist course to expand student skills in the field further.
Tuition for the entire program, including materials, is $799, but the school offers flexible monthly payments for those who cannot immediately pay in full.
Stratford Career Institute
The Stratford Career Institute Travel Agent Program was developed for those who love to travel and want to transition that passion into a career.
The course covers basic and advanced topics that benefit aspiring travel agents and novices.
The curriculum includes Destination Geography, Travel and Booking Trends, and Corporate and Leisure Travel.
Students can expect to also learn about sales and marketing techniques, ticket prices and fees, and common fares within the industry.
The Travel Institute
Founded in 1964, The Travel Institute has granted just under 30,000 certifications since its founding.
The school has over 145 approved programs and has been awarded 3,600 scholarships since 2014.
The school offers a Certified Travel Associate (CTA) program, which covers 15 critical study areas developed to focus on the required skills for becoming a North American travel consultant.
To enroll in the program, candidates must have at least one year of industry experience selling travel products and services or pass the Travel Agent Proficiency exam with an 80 percent score.
To earn the certification, candidates must pass the CTA examination with at least a 70% score.
To maintain the certification, candidates must earn 10 continuing education units or more annually and be registered in the Certified Travel Agent Directory, which is a public document.
The skill modules range from travel insurance and planning itineraries to business ethics and business writing.
Best of all, the program can be taken entirely online in digital or digital plus print formats for those who prefer learning using physical materials.
The program offers peer support, one—on—one counseling, practice scenarios, and expert tips via videos from industry executives.
The digital version costs $550, while the digital plus print option costs $650.
What Courses Are in an Online Travel Agent Program?
Travel agent programs vary greatly based on the type and level of the coursework and the industry type.
The most common travel agent courses cover the following topics:
- Advising clients on local activities.
- Booking trends.
- Customer relationship management.
- Determining travel costs.
- Developing alternative travel plans when schedules change.
- Discuss essential information with clients.
- Informing clients about required travel documents.
- Legal aspects of the travel industry.
- Marketing techniques
- Negotiating hotel rates.
- Planning itineraries.
- Project management and planning.
Can You Earn a Travel Agent Certification Completely Online?
Since there is no in-person requirement to become a certified travel agent, all certifications can be completed online.
Depending on the educational level in the tourism industry that you wish to achieve, the school may require an internship to gain firsthand experience in the industry, dealing with clients.
Experts advise students at all levels to enroll in an internship, which can help make you marketable for future potential employers, develop professional contacts, have a higher probability for direct job offers, and expand your transferrable skills.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Travel Agent Certification Online?
The online travel agent certification time commitment ranges based on the educational level you wish to achieve.
More basic certificates can be earned in a few months, whereas bachelor’s degrees in travel and tourism can take four years or more if you plan to enroll in an internship.
The primary difference between the certificate and diploma programs and the associate and bachelor’s degree programs is the latter requires foundational core classes, and the former focuses solely on travel agent topics.
However, the associate and bachelor’s degree programs tend to go more in-depth on many travel and tourism topics and offer additional opportunities to take specialized electives, which could also make you a more marketable candidate.
Also, the more education received, the higher salary you could earn after graduation compared to those with a lower level certification.
How Much Does an Online Travel Agent Certification Cost?
Like the time commitment required for travel agent certification, the cost varies based on several factors, including the training length, the school’s reputation, specialization, and financial aid availability.
The most basic certification programs cost between $330 and several thousand for a program lasting several months to one year.
Specialization programs for those with related training can cost around $550.
For those seeking higher education, an associate degree can range from several thousand dollars per year to over $10,000.
A bachelor’s degree can cost thousands of dollars for the entire program.
Suppose you’re considering a private school for associate or bachelor’s degrees.
In that case, it’s advisable to complete the core classes at a local community college with significantly less expensive credit hours, then transfer in the credits and take the travel and tourism classes at the private school.
This could save tens of thousands of dollars in the long term. Another option is to look for scholarships, grants, and financial aid opportunities.
As the world reopens, travel and tourism are at an all-time high for adventurers wanting to get outside and explore new cultures.
Although technology continues to improve and create itineraries and plans for travelers at the click of a button, travel agents are still needed due to their professional connections and relationships with hotels, travel and transportation companies, restaurants, airlines, and other travel-related businesses.
Therefore, they continue to be in high demand to get their clients the best possible prices.
For those looking to enter this dynamic and exciting field, there are plenty of online educational opportunities from which to choose.
Schools like The American Society of Travel Advisors and The Travel Institute focus on preparing students for industry certifications.
Ashford College, Penn Foster, and the Stratford Career Institute are some of the best online colleges available, so they use technology so students can succeed.
Cayuga Community College and CSU are more traditional schools with multiple educational levels beyond certificates, and the Cruise Lines International Association emphasizes coursework related to cruise travel.
Many options depend on your academic and career goals, so determine where you want to go next!