How to Become a Travel Agent in South Dakota

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How to Become a Travel Agent in South Dakota

Only a few states require licensing to become a travel agent.

South Dakota is one that does not.

You could just say you are a travel agent and start making arrangements for people to travel.

You would not likely get much business.

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While licensing is not a legal requirement in South Dakota, in practice it is necessary to have a lot of success.

South Dakota is attracting more tourists, so it is a growing industry in the state.

Travel Agent Duties in South Dakota

Travel agents arrange trips for people, organizations, or companies.

They sell transportation, lodging, and admission to various events and sites.

They do all the planning and make all the needed arrangements for your vacation.

Anyone can do this for themselves, of course, but the travel agent is expected to know more than the average person, and to be able to do it better and more efficiently.

The travel agent’s fee is included in the travel package they sell.

Travel agents take a lot of worry out of traveling.

People may pay a little more by using a travel agent, but they will save a lot of work and anxiety.

The basic duty of a travel agent is to take care of the details about transportation, accommodations, and entertainment – or sights to see if sightseeing.

You may also help with information regarding visas, vaccinations, and other travel needs.

Travel agents are expected to know a lot about many destinations, and how to best enjoy them.

They give advice when planning trips, and help people plan their perfect vacation.

Licensing Requirements in South Dakota

The State of South Dakota does not require a person to have a license to be a travel agent.

A person can still take a study program and get a certificate of having completed the training.

When you have that, you have more credibility when looking for a job, or when trying to win clients.

You can become a travel agent by just claiming to be one.

As a practical matter, you will have a lot more success if you have some kind of certificate.

Travel Agent Programs

There are a few programs available at some schools in South Dakota.

Many travel agent courses are available online.

You do not have to get your education or certificate in South Dakota to work in South Dakota.

You can work for an existing agency or start your own.

Some of the top programs in the state:

  • Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD. Offers degrees in Tourism Hospitality Management, and Hospitality for Business. In-state cost for tuition after financial aid is about $16,000 per year. This four-year degree would qualify a person for other jobs.
  • National American University in Rapid City, SD, offers a certificate that can be completed in person, or online, for about $2,000. The online version can be started at any time. It will qualify a person to take the test to be certified by the national travel organization. This is a six-month program but can be completed at your own pace.
  • South Dakota State in Brookings, SD, offers a four-year program in hospitality, tourism, and event management. This would qualify a person to be in travel management. The cost for full-time students with financial aid is about $19,000.

Salary and Job Prospects

In South Dakota, the median starting salary for a travel agent is $30,000 – $38,000.

There are not a lot of travel agents in the state.

In 2018 there were 100 and the next year there were 120 people working as travel agents.

This is well below the national average of 600.

Tourism is growing in South Dakota, which could mean there will be more jobs like this in the future.

There is also the option of starting your own travel agent business, and your salary would depend on how well you do.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Sioux Falls $34,726
Rapid City $33,573
Aberdeen $31,527
Watertown $34,145
Brookings $34,145
Mitchell $34,145
Pierre $32,107
Yankton $33,360
Huron $32,836
Vermillion $32,575

Regional Salary in South Dakota

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Rapid City, SD30$50,230$24.15$66,960$39,160
Sioux Falls, SD50$47,940$23.05$64,180$36,480
* 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

If there is no license requirement, why do I need training?

In theory, you do not need training.

With training, you will have credibility with agencies looking for agents.

Training will help you open doors for your career, and it will help you develop your own business if you go that route.

What skills are needed as a travel agent?

Good communication and customer service skills are the most important things you need.

You will need good administrative and organizational skills, as well as attentiveness to detail.

The ability to understand the needs of people, and a willingness to help them, are also good skills to have.

Some sales skills will also be needed.

What are specialized areas in the travel business?

It is possible to be a general travel agent, but if you have an interest in a specific area, you can choose a specialization.

The more skills or training you have in each of these areas gives you more opportunities.

You can even create your own specialty if you start your own business.

If you start your own agency, you may be the only employee.

You can study each specialization to become more knowledgeable about as many specific areas as you like.

Specializations include:

  • Honeymoons and weddings
  • Family vacations
  • Cruises and luxury travel
  • Budget travel.
  • Adventure travel.

USA Travel Agent License by State

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