While obtaining a travel agent's license is not mandatory to become a travel agent, a license can set new agents apart from non-licensed agents and provide credibility. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the majority of travel agencies prefer applicants with specific training in the field. Travel agent license programs provide would-be agents with valuable industry knowledge and a built-in network of other soon-to-be licensed agents.
Select an area of the travel industry to build your career around. The BLS notes that travel agents who specialise in specific destinations, luxury travel or other niches should have the most success. Consider your own travel experience and interests when choosing a speciality.
Research your selected niche by reading trade publications such as "Travel Agent Magazine" and contacting travel agents in your area for informational meetings. Learn as much as possible to develop a valuable knowledge base before you begin a travel agent license course.
Select an organisation or school from which you will obtain your license. The American Society of Travel Agents and Career Toolkits both list schools on their websites.
Enrol in your selected school and begin classes. While many schools and organisations still offer onsite classes, an increasing number offer online courses. Program length varies depending on the school, with some programs lasting up to one year.
Supplement your classes with training specific to your niche, such as foreign language, history or geography courses. Enrol in business management or computer courses, particularly if you plan to work independently or run your own agency.
Register with your state after you have obtained your travel agent license. Many states require travel agents to register and pay into a restitution fund or meet other requirements. Failure to do so can result in fines.