How to Become a Travel Agent in West Virginia

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How to Become a Travel Agent in West Virginia

2021 may have been a challenging year for the travel industry, but things are gradually picking up again.

That means that industry professionals, including travel agents, are in growing demand again, and this includes travel agents in West Virginia.

But what exactly are travel agents, and what do they do?

You can think of travel agents as the intermediaries between tourists and companies offering services like transportation, accommodation, and entertainment.

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And that is not all.

Travel agents need to tailor their services to their client’s preferences.

They need to factor in things like why the clients are traveling (e.g., for business, relaxation, a honeymoon), their budget, and with whom they are traveling.

In addition, they need to inform their clients about visas, vaccination, and other requirements, process payments and deposits, and resolve issues and emergencies.

Travel Agent Duties

The duties of travel agents in West Virginia are much like those of travel agents in other states.

Generally, they make arrangements for their clients to purchase travel-related services such as transportation, food, accommodation, and entertainment.

However, according to the West Virginia State Tax Department, travel agents will “typically pay sales tax at the time of purchase on behalf of their clients, either to West Virginia or to another state or jurisdiction.”

In such cases, the travel agents collect the sales tax from their clients on the gross profit obtained from the sale of the travel package.

This gross profit is calculated by subtracting the expenses paid by the travel agents on behalf of their clients (including already-paid sales tax) from the travel package’s gross sales price.

Licensing Requirements to Become a Travel Agent

West Virginia, unlike other states, does not require certification for travel agents.

That being said, aspiring agents would benefit from having some education in the hospitality or tourism field.

Since it is quite common for travel agents to possess a bachelor’s degree in tourism or a related field, it would certainly help to have this qualification.

Travel Agent Programs

Although a certificate is not required to work as a travel agent in West Virginia, receiving travel agent training can help you stand out from the crowd.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of training programs throughout the state.

The length and cost may vary from program to program, but they are all designed to maximize your potential for success as a travel agent.

You must bear in mind that a prerequisite for all the listed programs is a high school diploma or GED.

If you do not possess any of these qualifications, you should acquire one as soon as you can so that you can enroll in a travel agent training program.

  • BridgeValley Community and Technical College – At $1,995 for 6 months of training, this travel agent course will, according to the school’s website, give you a “deep understanding of both travel and tourism, so you can help clients research, plan, and book their trips.” Everything is conducted online, so enrollees have to be extremely self-driven and comfortable working alone.
  • Davis and Elkins College – What sets this program apart from the previous one is that it is not a certification program. Instead, it is a full-fledged degree program that culminates in the awarding of either a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. This means the program lasts anywhere from 2 to 4 years, and enrollees have to pay normal tuition costs ($29,880 for the 2022-2023 academic year).
  • New River Community and Technical College – New River Community and Technical College offer the Hospitality and Tourism Management AAS program for aspiring travel agents or hospitality industry professionals. As a 30-credit program, it “prepares students for careers in … resorts and recreation service companies, lodging and hospitality, restaurants and food service and public or private organizations that develop and promote the tourism industry.”

Salary

Nationwide, the average salary is $38,683, with the salary range usually falling between $35,245 and $45,050.

In West Virginia, the average salary for travel agents is $34,273, and the salary typically ranges from $31,227 to $39,914.

The average salary differs from city to city.

For example, while the average salary is $34,966 in Charleston, it is $33,780 in Clarksburg.

Annual Salary Range:
$31K
$34K
$39K
10%
50%
90%
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Charleston $35,236
Huntington $34,552
Parkersburg $34,350
Wheeling $37,871
Morgantown $37,871
Weirton $37,741
Fairmont $37,871
Beckley $34,927
Clarksburg $34,041
Martinsburg $42,868

Sources

https://tax.wv.gov/Documents/TSD/tsd376.pdf

https://www.travelsafe-abroad.com/travel-agent/west-virginia/

https://www.salary.com/research/salary/recruiting/travel-agent-salary

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I work independently as a travel agent in West Virginia?

If you decide to become a travel agent, you can choose to work for an agency or work on your own.

Although both are viable options, you might want to work for an agency first so you can learn the ropes of the trade with the guidance of experienced agents.

Once you have decided to work independently, you will need permits or licenses.

These documents will require that you pass a number of exams.

How much do independent/home-based travel agents earn in West Virginia?

The average salary for a home-based agent in West Virginia is $42,705.

This translates to about $20.53 an hour, which is equivalent to $821 per week or $3,559 per month.

Will I need a license to sell or distribute travel insurance in West Virginia?

Yes.

Travel agents will need a special license to sell or distribute travel insurance as part of travel packages.

USA Travel Agent License by State


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