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Becoming a Travel Agent in California

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Becoming a travel agent doesn't necessarily require a formal certification, though the state of California does have some requirements for those who own travel agencies. As a travel agent, you'll help travelers book flights and choose hotels and tours or vacation packages. You'll be the "expert" with an insider's knowledge of the best places to go -- and the least expensive ways to get there.

Ways to Train

Some companies will provide on-the-job training for travel agents, though typically you'll be required to have a background in travel or hospitality and at least a high school diploma. The other route is to study travel and hospitality at a trade school or community college, where you'll learn concepts of travel sales and marketing, using travel booking computer systems, and concepts of vacation planning. Look for programs through local community colleges, or consult the listings recommended by the American Society of Travel Agents. Certificate programs -- in which you'll receive a "certificate of achievement" -- can take as little as one or two semesters. You can also earn an associate degree in travel and tourism in about two years.

Registered Seller of Travel

If you're planning to open your own travel agency, you must sign up as a Registered Seller of Travel with the state of California. Provide the business' contact information and information about your business' relationship with the airlines, and then put money for a surety bond into a trust account -- covering the cost of potential disputes or cancelled reservations that were due to no fault of the traveler. The fee is $100 per year as of 2015. Once registered, you'll be required to put your registration number on any business advertisements. Start your registration process at the California attorney general's website. If you're an employee of a travel agency, you won't need to be registered as a seller of travel.


Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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