How to Become a Travel Agent in California

Updated On November 13, 2023
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This guide will reveal what it takes to become a travel agent in California!

Even though 2020 appeared to bring an end to hospitality-related businesses, this wasn’t the case.

Now travel has resumed with additional precautions and the demand for travel agents is expected to increase as things return to normal.

Grab a cup of tea and read on!

Travel Agent Job Description and Duties in California

Travel agents do more than help people find:

  • Transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Entertainment

These professionals need to first keep in mind the clients’ preferences and budgets.

Specializing in one or a few of these niches will help with achieving just that:

  • Honeymoon
  • Family-oriented
  • Business
  • Budget
  • Cruise
  • Luxury

However, there are more things that need to be done by these agents to ensure a successful trip.

These things include:

  • Review visas, vaccinations, and other travel necessities
  • Understanding the needs and desires of their clients
  • Keeping accurate records
  • Finding solutions to issues and emergencies
  • Handling payments and deposits
  • Promoting the various packages resorts, hotels, and cruise companies offer
  • Negotiating with hotels, resorts, cruise companies, and more

Like with many other jobs, additional tasks and duties may also arise from time to time, such as working overtime.

Requirements to be a Travel Agent in California

Most occupations have prerequisites or ideal candidates.

The ideal travel agents have these abilities:

  • Good communication skills
  • Good management skills
  • Able to use various computer programs
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Great marketing skills
  • Able to work full-time
  • Detail-oriented
  • Being confident
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Be honest
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

Liking to and having the ability to travel will be important assets for this occupation.

It’s also good to have some experience in the field or work in a different position in a travel agency.

Education and Certification for a Travel Agent in California

To increase your knowledge and credibility, enrolling in specialized classes is something to consider.

The majority of travel agents graduate from a tourism program, usually with a Bachelor’s degree.

California has a good selection of schools that offer programs in this field or related.

You can see these schools below.

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Top 20 Schools in California

School NameAddress
California Polytechnic State University1 Grand Ave., San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
California State Polytechnic University3801 W Temple Ave, Pomona, CA 91768
California State University5500 University Pkwy, San Bernardino, CA 92407
California State University6000 J St, Sacramento, CA 95819
California State University18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330
California State University100 Campus Center, Seaside, CA 93955
California State University1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840
California State University800 N State College Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831
California State University5241 N Maple Ave, Fresno, CA 93740
California State University25800 Carlos Bee Blvd, Hayward, CA 94542
California State University400 W 1st St, Chico, CA 95929
Contra Costa College2600 Mission Bell Dr, San Pablo, CA 94806, United States
Cypress College9200 Valley View St, Cypress, CA 90630
International Career Institute6399 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Orange Coast College2701 Fairview Rd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Pasadena City College1570 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
San Diego State University5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, CA 92182
San Francisco State University1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132
San José State1 Washington Sq, San Jose, CA 95192
Sonoma State University1801 E Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

The duration of any of the programs is at least 2 years.

Most courses are offered in person, though online classes are also available.

The majority of colleges require future students to present at least a high school diploma or an equivalent.

Depending on the degree, additional prerequisites might be set in stone such as minimum age and minimum grades in certain subjects.

The coursework of a travel agent usually covers these topics:

  • Introduction to the travel industry
  • Professional Skills
  • Basic/International geography
  • Destination geography
  • Introduction to international travel
  • Introduction to air travel
  • Transportation
  • Career development
  • Sales and marketing for travel

Travel Agent Salary and Employment in California

Many people choose this career path because of the possibility of working independently.

Running your own travel agency can be exciting, but you’ll need additional licenses.

These could differ from county to county.

Another perk is that you could even work from home, even if you were to be hired by an agency.

These agents will usually have to travel quite a bit in order to stay updated with the best deals and things to do.

The more experience one has, the more they’ll earn.

Possibly in San Jose, you can earn the highest average salary, although San Francisco is not far behind.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Travel Agents in California

City NameSalary
Los Angeles$43,346
San Diego$41,360
San Jose$48,099
San Francisco$47,907
Long Beach$42,733

Regional Salary

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 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 41-3041, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Additional Information for Travel Agents in California

There are various organizations you can join for more credentials.

These require an annual membership fee, but they can also make your job easier in several ways.

Travel Agent State-specific Information:

3 Comments on California

  1. D
    Dorothy Haynes says:

    Thanks for this helpful guide! I’ve always dreamed of turning my passion for travel into a career, and knowing the steps to become a travel agent in California is a great start!

  2. A
    Abraham Cooper says:

    As someone living in California, this breakdown of the requirements and steps to become a travel agent is invaluable.

  3. M
    Margaret Scott says:

    I appreciate the thorough explanation of the licensing process. It’s reassuring to know the specific steps needed to become a licensed travel agent here in California.

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