Travel Agents: Salary Overview
Travel agents offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make arrangements for individuals and groups who plan trips.
Their job description typically includes arranging travel, determining customer’s needs and preferences, planning and arranging tour packages, calculating travel costs, booking reservations, describing trips, and giving details about passports and visas to their clients.
Travel agents have to always be prepared to make alternative booking arrangements if changes happen before or during a trip.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for travel agents was $40,660 in May of 2019.
This means that half the workers in this occupation earned less than this amount and half earned more.
Salaries vary widely depending on the agent’s experience and skills but also depending on the employer and industry of employment.
The lowest 10 percent made less than $23,660 a year while the highest 10 percent made more than $69,420 a year.
The wage data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes money earned from commissions.
Travel Agents Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, travel agents held about 78,000 jobs in 2018, most of them working in the field of travel arrangement and reservation services.
Approximately 11 percent of all travel agents were self-employed workers.
Companies that provide travel arrangement and reservation services hired approximately 58,120 travel agents as of May 2019 and offered them an average annual salary of $44,410 per year.
Approximately 1,450 travel agents worked for companies that provide management of companies and enterprises and were paid, on average, with $47,500 per year.
The mean annual wage was $35,930 per year for travel agents who worked in the field of travel accommodation and $60,090 for those who worked for insurance carriers.
The average annual wage for travel agents who worked for companies that provide management, scientific, and technical consulting services was $53,720 per year.
The highest average annual salary was reported by travel agents who worked for insurance agencies and brokerages.
This field offered an average annual wage of $63,980 per year to travel agents.
However, the best-paying fields, such as insurance agencies or insurance carries, hired only a few travel agents and in order to have better chances of finding employment in this field, you should first earn a college degree and a few years of experience working in a related position.
Commissions, Bonuses and other Benefits
Along with a fixed salary, many travel agents also receive commissions on bookings.
For this reason, their total compensation varies depending on the agency’s sales volume and the compensation package the travel agent has negotiated with their employer.
According to payscale.com, travel agents earned, on average, $4,000 a year in commissions as of May 2020.
Some of them also receive bonuses and profit sharing.
The same report shows that salaried travel agents made approximately $1,500 a year in bonuses and $1,200 in profit sharing.
The numbers published by the United States of Labor Statistics show that approximately 11 percent of all travel agents were self-employed.
As a self-employed travel agent, your earnings will depend on the number of bookings and their value.
Starting your own travel agency can increase your earnings but as a business owner you will also have to pay for rent and other business expenses and these vary depending on the office location, the number of employees, etc.
Among the other perks of being a travel agent, we should also mention discounted travel rates and all-expenses-paid trips offered by tour operators, hotels, and other suppliers.
Travel agents are sometimes invited to complimentary trips to evaluate travel sites and to learn about the destination in order to be able to promote it to potential customers.
* Based on information from the May 2019 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Travel Agents. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.