How much do travel agents make?

If you are considering a career in the travel industry, becoming a travel consultant might be the first thing that comes to mind. Wondering how much a travel agent earns? It’s hard to pinpoint a number that depends on several different factors. However, there are two more indicative: education and experience.

Looking at historical data that includes all travel agents, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Host Agency Reviews (HAR) found that the average travel agent made nearly $44,00 on average in 2019 (last year that was normal, before epidemic data was available).

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The BLS pegs the average travel agent salary at $44,690 with a range between $23,360 and $69,420 splitting the lowest percentage to 10 percent of travel agents.

Host Agency Reviews found that in 2019, the average salary hovered around $44,312 for hosted travel agents with three or more years of experience.

While this data seems easy enough to digest, it only shows part of the picture that a travel agent makes. Annual salaries vary greatly depending on what type of travel agent a person belongs to, whether or not they are affiliated with a host agency, employed, self-employed or an independent contractor to a larger travel agency.

For those looking to work in the travel industry to sell travel, reviews of host agencies have found that travel agent employees tend to have more predictable salaries. Take a position as an employee of a travel agency where salary and commission play a lesser role in overall wages. The total earnings of travel agents were as follows according to the Travel Institute in 2019:

37% of travel agency employees make less than $24,000 a year
25% profit from $24,000 to $59,999
18% earned more than $60,000.

Travel agent fees also fluctuate with experience. According to the ASTA Report on Experienced Corporate Travel Agents, they earn approximately $13,000 more annually than their newer counterparts. For leisure travel agents, those with experience earn about an additional $10,000 per year. According to HAR’s 2019 Travel Agent Income Survey, hosted agents with three or more years of experience earn an average of $44,312 in 2019.

Travel advisor working on a laptop
Travel advisor working on a laptop. (Image via JLco – Julia Amaral/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Education also plays an important role in how much money a travel agent earns. In fact, the Travel Institute has found a direct correlation between earnings and agent education in its changing search for travel agents. The results show that there is a clear line that can be drawn between higher sales numbers and certification levels.

“I view these results, and especially the compensation, as a trifecta for our field of well-trained travel professionals who earn significantly more money than agents without advanced education,” said Diane Petras, President of The Travel Institute.

Travel agents do not need to obtain certification to sell travel tours in the United States. But certification and specialization are directly related to higher salaries.

The Travel Institute provides a number of top-level educational pathways and certifications for travel agents. This is just one way to earn more.

Other programs, such as the Travel Agent Toolkit (TASK) provide a series of educational opportunities designed to teach travel agents how to become travel agent entrepreneurs and grow their travel business.

“When TASK was introduced eight years ago, the industry committed to having limited sessions online, making sure agents learn how to make their own money but establishing relationships with vendors and tour operators here in the US and abroad,” he said. Tammy Levent, President of TASK. “The problem with our industry is that we are so used to being told what we are going to do. In the TASK live course, we teach our agents how to negotiate 20-40 percent of profits – not commissions, but how to become entrepreneurs and make a good profit.”

TASK offers a series of online videos as well as live events, including TASK Live, an agent-orchestrated event that specifically teaches seasoned professionals how to grow their business and increase profits. There is an elite-level TASK Live event as well as private consultations.

“I always say, one agent at a time as advocate and vote for travel agent,” Levent said. “I have a lot [agents] Who want to take my course and find it hard to believe they can make so much money. At the end of the day, teach them to take the money and they deserve it. They did all the work.”

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