Certified Travel Counselor Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
A Certified Travel Counselor's salary is around $30,000-$51,000. Is it worth the training requirements? Read the job description and get the truth about the career outlook to find out if becoming a Certified Travel Counselor is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Certified Travel Counselor Career

Much like a travel agent, Certified Travel Counselors spend their time planning and booking trips for clients. Check out the pros and cons of becoming a Certified Travel Counselor to decide if this career is right for you.

Pros of a Certified Travel Counselor Career
A high school diploma could be enough education to begin a career in the industry*
Could find a job as a travel counselor without being certified**
Could be self-employed*
On-the-job training is typically provided*

Cons of a Certified Travel Counselor Career
Must have five years of experience to earn certification as a travel counselor***
Extensive training is required***
A business license could be required to be self-employed*
May work irregular hours when clients have problems with their travels*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **CareerBuilder.com, ***The Travel Institute.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

A Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) is someone who has earned CTC certification through The Travel Institute. The Certified Travel Counselor program is designed for those who own or manage a travel agency.

Working as a travel agent, a CTC will be responsible for booking transportation, lodging and entertainment activities for clients. You should possess researching skills to ensure that you are finding clients the best price and also booking vacations that are up to their expectations.

Career Outlook and Salary Info

PayScale.com reported in July 2015 that the salary for most people employed as travel counselors was around $30,000-$51,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates a decline in employment (-12%) from 2012-2022 for travel agents. This decline has been attributed to travelers' ability to research vacations on the Internet and book their own trips, decreasing demand for travel agents.

Career Skills and Requirements

Training and Certification Requirements

To become a Certified Travel Counselor, you must have at least five years of experience, have completed the Certified Travel Associate (CTA) program and pass the CTC test. The required CTA program is also offered by The Travel Institute and includes 12 courses intended to increase your knowledge of geography and sales techniques, as well as improve your customer service skills. In addition to completing the 12 courses, you will need to pass the CTA test and must have at least a year and a half of experience in the travel industry.

Because you need experience within the travel industry to complete the CTA program and many employers prefer someone who has formal training in the travel and tourism industry, you could enroll in a travel agent program. Through an associate degree or certificate program in travel and tourism, you could gain the industry knowledge needed to begin your career. However, you may find employment as a travel agent with only a high school diploma.

Job Postings from Real Employers

While many jobs do not necessarily require certification, a few do list it as a preference by the employer. Customer service is often emphasized in job postings because you will be working directly with clients. Because travel and tourism companies make their money only when clients book travel plans, you should have sales skills as well. Read a few job postings advertising for a travel counselor in April 2012:

  • A national travel company with an office in California advertised for a travel counselor to take on the role of a vacation sales specialist. The company prefers a candidate who is qualified as a CTC or has a similar certification.
  • A travel agency in Ohio is looking for a travel sales agent to help clients plan their vacations. A candidate that is qualified as a CTC or has a similar background is preferred.
  • A tour operation company in Massachusetts is looking for a travel counselor to help older adults plan and book small group travel. It is not required that you are a Certified Travel Counselor, but you should have at least two years of experience.

How to Make Your Skills Stand out

Job prospects could be better for those that focus their career on a particular specialization, such as group or corporate travel. You might also consider becoming a Travel and Tourism Professional (TTP). Such a credential is offered through the International Airline Transport Association's Training and Development Program (IATA). Requirements to become a TTP include having a high school diploma and at least two years of experience within the travel industry.

Other Careers to Consider

Travel Agent

If you like the idea of helping others plan and book their vacations but don't want to pursue a career as a Certified Travel Counselor, you might pursue a career as a travel agent. You might be able to enter this field with a high school diploma, although employers generally prefer someone with formal training, such as an associate degree or certificate program in travel and tourism. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for travel agents, as reported in 2011, was around $36,000.

Meeting, Convention and Event Planner

If you enjoy planning events for others but have decided that a career as a certified travel counselor isn't for you, consider becoming a meeting, convention and event planner. In this career, you will spend your days coordinating meetings and events from beginning to end, including scheduling meeting locations, booking caterers, overseeing the event as it is happening and have the responsibility of ensuring that payment is provided for services. Although associate degree programs in event planning may exist, a bachelor's degree in hospitality management, public relations or marketing is usually required to seek employment. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for meeting, convention and event planners was about $50,000, as reported in 2011. The BLS also states that there is expected to be a 44% job growth from 2010-2020, an increase that is said to be faster than the average.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Purdue University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management
      • Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
      • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
      • Business Administration, BA - Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    7. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Custom/General
      • Master of Business Administration - Multiple Concentrations
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
    Master's
      • MBA
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Business Admin.
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Seton Hall University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Dual MBA-MHA

Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management

What is your highest level of education?

Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
  • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
  • Associate of Arts - Accounting

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Business Management

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • B.S. - Music Business

What is your highest level of education?

University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration - Custom/General
  • Master of Business Administration - Multiple Concentrations

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • MBA
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?