How to Become a Travel Agent in Illinois

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How to Become a Travel Agent in Illinois

Traveling is not easy.

There are so many threads to keep track of from buying tickets to checking off national monuments to sniffing out local hotspots.

In fact, it is often a hassle that leaves vacationers more exhausted than relaxed.

This is why travel agents exist.

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Not only do they save their clients hours of research, but they ensure that everything is pre-planned, so all the clients have to do is enjoy themselves.

Travel Agent Duties in Illinois

Being a travel agent requires skills that cross boundaries between the service industries and accounting.

To be successful in this industry, having good listening and people skills is a necessity, but keeping track of money spent and staying organized is what will keep the agent in a job.

Travel agents must listen to the client’s requests for their travel, including personal needs and financial limitations.

The client’s expectations drive the creation of the travel plan, so the agent must do their best to accommodate requests and requirements through a great deal of research about the location and what it will take to get everyone there.

As the agent researches, they will secure travel arrangements for the clients.

Because of the fast-paced nature of the industry, they may be making last-minute changes as there are developments in the news, weather, or if there are cancelations that may impact the trip.

Travel agents also sell vacation packages that are pre-planned, usually for cruises and resorts, or for other vacation destinations where things are not as likely to change before the trip.

Licensing Requirements to Become a Travel Agent in Illinois

Every state in the US has laws protecting the consumer which regulate the industry, but the state of Illinois is one of several which has specific requirements.

While licensing is not required to become a travel agent, it is often a great way to gain the trust of clients and agencies looking to hire.

In addition, having licenses and certifications can make booking travel easier, can help put you into contact with potential clients, and some travel organizations may require the agent to have certifications to be able to book through them.

While one can become a travel agent with just their high school diploma, their earning potential is higher with greater experience and education.

After completing their schooling (either with an Associates or Bachelors Degree, depending on the program), a travel agent can take the Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) Test.

Upon passing this test as a new agent, they will receive their Certified Travel Associate (CTA) license which only requires a limited amount of experience.

Upon gaining more experience, usually five or more years and an additional examination, an agent can gain their Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) license.

To be able to book international transport, the International Air Transport Association’s Travel and Tourism Professional (TTP) certification may be required.

From the Cruise Line International Association, certification in the levels of Accredited, Master, and Elite Cruise Counselor may be required to book cruises.

The state of Illinois has additional financial security requirements which require the agent to maintain a trust account in a federally insured bank or savings and loan association.

Travel Agent Programs

There are several programs in the state of Illinois that offer education and assessments beneficial to becoming a travel agent.

The College of DuPage offers a Travel and Tourism program which would lead to the Travel and Tourism Foundations Certificate (12 credits) and the Travel and Tourism Professional Certificate (36 credits).

Tuition is $138 per credit hour for Illinois residents.

Other colleges offer Hospitality degrees which may prove helpful to finding internships and job placements in the industry.

Triton College offers a Hotel/Motel Management program (31 credits).

Obtaining certification in this area might prove the agent is a worthwhile reservationist.

Tuition is $138 per credit hour for Illinois residents.

Harper College offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Hospitality Management as well as a Hotel Management Certification track (60 credits).

Tuition is $133.50 per credit hour for Illinois residents.


The average salary for a travel agent in Illinois is $39,727 a year, but the range falls between $36,000 and $46,000.

Certifications, level of education, and experience can impact the salary of a travel agent.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Chicago $41,038
Rockford $38,095
Aurora $40,696
Naperville $40,300
Peoria $37,364
Springfield $35,704
Joliet $40,020
Elgin $40,341
Waukegan $38,727
Cicero $41,038

Regional Salary in Illinois

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI1,540$46,920$22.56$63,940$27,680
* 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

What are the annual fees for holding my license?

For someone holding the CTA or CTC licenses, there is no fee to maintain them, but 10 continuing education credits are required.

To continue as a cruise counselor, an agent must stay an active member of the Institute of Asset Management (IAM).

The Travel and Tourism Professional certification does not need renewal, but higher levels of certification may prove beneficial.

What is a trust account, and what is it for?

A trust account is established on behalf of the client for the purpose of holding their money for use in planning their travels.

What do programs in Illinois to become a travel agent entail?

A well-rounded program would include education about geography and culture, world destinations, tour planning and operations, state and national parks, sales, e-ticketing, and more.

USA Travel Agent License by State

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