How to Become a Travel Agent in California

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How to Become a Travel Agent in California

Many of those that enjoy traveling feel that they possess the skills and knowledge to become a travel agent.

Most of them have traveled extensively, understand how to book a hotel and car reservation, secure plane and railway fares, coordinate travel packaging and have the resources to plan activities and tours.

Leisure travels often know what they are looking for and a budget.

They task the travel agent to find everything they want at a price they can afford.

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When the perfect location is identified, they coordinate travel, local transfers/transportation, room accommodations, and even tours.

Business travelers sometimes travel in groups to attend events, conferences, and workshops.

The agent must book them into their location and help coordinate via bus or other transportation, accommodations, conference centers, make suggestions for leisure time activities and coordinate everything to make sure tall facets of the trip run smoothly.

What Are the Travel Agent Duties and Responsibilities in California?

There is a lot more to being a travel agent than most people think.

Often, those that have traveled think they possess the skills needed to become a travel agent, just because they have booked their travel and gone to numerous vacation spots across the globe.

But there is much more that goes into becoming a travel agent in California.

Here are some of the things trained travel agents can expect to do according to USA Today:

  • Certifications: In California, individuals planning to become a travel agent need to be certified or have a degree in tourism, travel, or hospitality.
  • Broad knowledge of popular travel destinations: Many people rely on their travel agent to suggest places that fit the traveler’s interests. They are often looking for a leisure vacation but are not sure of the location, so they will ask their travel agent for locations, climate, activities, and other leisure time activities.
  • Business travel: A travel agent may also be required to book groups of travel for those attending conferences and business events. The needs of the business traveler are different; they may suggest meeting locations, restaurants, and things that would be of interest to the business traveler.
  • Ability to book all forms of travel needs: A travel agent needs to be able to book flights, hotels, cars, or other transportation. They need to suggest and book tours, trains, buses, and cruises. A travel agent also needs to know how to reschedule and book additional days as needed and coordinate alternative means of transportation if travel or other unexpected circumstances cause travelers to miss or have to reschedule trips.
  • Good customer service skills: Most travel agents will know how to deal with customers daily, but travel can be stressful. Some people are on tight budgets that require the agent to research best deals and book them within the travelers’ financial constraints. They need to be able to stay positive when flights are canceled, and they are dealing with frustrated customers.

Do Travel Agents Require a License in the State of California?

Unlike many states, California requires travel agents to take courses or enter a travel agent training program.

In the state of California to be a licensed travel agent, you need to have a high school diploma or GED to take a travel certification program.

The other option is obtaining a degree in travel, tourism, or hospitality.

Many schools in California offer travel agent certification programs, as well as associate degree programs in tourism and hospitality.

According to, several schools in California offer travel agent and tourism classes, and they include:

  • Empire College School of Business: They offer certification associate degrees in tourism and hospitality. They also focus on wine country.
  • Foothill College: Foothills colleges offer certificate and degree programs. They also offer distance learning.
  • West Los Angeles College: This school offers an Associate of the Arts (AA) degree in travel.
  • Saddleback College: They offer both degree and certification programs in travel and tourism.
  • Columbia College: This school offers students the choice between an Associate of the Arts degree and certification in hospitality management.

How Much Does it Cost to Attend a Travel Agent Program in California?

There are a couple of different costs that travel agents should expect to incur before they can start their new position.

First, anyone that sells travel or travel products in California must be registered as a California Seller of Travel.

This enables individuals to sell travel.

Depending on the class or program chosen, the cost of training could be anywhere from $295 to $895.

If you attend a full degree program, the costs will be more.

Start-up costs are approximately $500.

Agents pay $100 for their license registration fee, per location.

If they work out of two offices, the cost would be $200, etc.

How Much Can a Travel Agent Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a travel agent can expect to make about $42,320 per year (median).

That equates to $20.36 per hour.

Of course, if they have a specialty, if they advertise, and if they have a good reputation in the industry, this amount may go higher.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Los Angeles $43,750
San Diego $41,745
San Jose $48,547
San Francisco $48,354
Long Beach $43,132
Fresno $38,482
Sacramento $41,812
Oakland $46,033
Santa Ana $43,170
Anaheim $43,228

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Fresno, CA60$42,290$20.33$58,770$29,840
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA2,100$51,560$24.79$74,530$34,500
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA120$46,020$22.12$60,630$31,250
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA370$50,320$24.19$71,320$30,820
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA830$61,440$29.54$94,940$36,480
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA240$56,200$27.02$72,320$36,620
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Travel Agents, OCC Code 41-3041, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get started as a travel agent?

Once you receive your credentials in California, and you set up your Website and portal, you can start in as quickly as 24 hours.

How do I get paid?

Recently, more agencies have been adding on a commission to the total amount of the trip.

The average is around 14%.

What are FAM trips?

A FAM (or familiarization) trip is offered by suppliers, so agents can get to know their properties and suggest them to their clients.

USA Travel Agent License by State

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