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Travel Agent - Training & Careers

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Travel AgentMost people relish the idea of traveling to foreign locales, taking relaxing cruises, and discovering little known resorts and restaurants around the globe.

Travel agents not only help others to find great vacations and expeditions, they enjoy greatly reduced prices -- and often go for free. If you like customer service and the jet-setting lifestyle, you might consider training to work as a travel agent.

Despite the preponderance of online booking services, people seeking value and adventure still rely on travel agents. Travel agents also work for major corporations, hotels, and cruise lines. More than one out of ten travel agents owns their own company, and some work from the comforts of a home office.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 118,000 travel agents plying the trade in 2002. The BLS predicts that with rising household incomes and the baby boomer generation moving into retirement, more travelers are expected to wander the world than in the past.

Growing Importance of Formal Training for Travel Agents

With the growth in technology-assisted travel and tough competition in the travel industry, it has become vital for travel agents to prepare for booking trends. Specialized vocational schools now feature full-time travel agent training programs. Some offer evening and weekend programs, others online training. You'll also find travel agent courses at community colleges and some adult schools. There are universities that offer bachelor's and master’s degrees in travel and tourism.

Many travel agents choose to specialize in a specific region or industry. Some become wilderness trek or ecotourism specialists. Others may focus on the cruise ship industry. Working at an in-house corporate travel office has become a niche profession for many successful travel agents.

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