Career Counselor - Entry-level Travel Jobs

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November 3, 2002

Career Counselor
Entry-level Travel Jobs
SUSAN W. MILLER, M.A, Special to The Times

Question: I am interested in getting into an entry-level job in the travel and tourism industry. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for me.
— Linda

Response: You could consider becoming a reservations or ticket agent, also known as passenger service agents.

Reservation agents schedule and confirm reservations by telephone or computer and prepare tickets or contracts at the request of customers. They determine space availability and offer suggestions on travel arrangements including routes, time schedules, rates, and types of accommodation.

As car rental agents, they rent automobiles and talk with customer to determine type of automobile, location for pick up and return of automobile, and number of days needed for rental. Car rental agents quote costs, and explain rental policies and procedures.

Employment Outlook
While above average growth is projected through 2008 for reservation agents, the increased use of on-line ticketing, may result in fewer position openings.

Ticket and reservations agents are employed by transportation companies such as airlines, car rental companies, and/or cruise companies. Currently, many experienced agents are on layoff status, so outlook is poor for entry-level applicants.

Larger companies employ both ticket agents and reservations agents, while smaller companies may hire only ticket agents who perform both duties. Some ticket agent jobs are available only through promotion from reservation agents.

Reservation agents work in central offices at desks with telephones and computer terminals. Ticket agents may work at check-in counters.

Salary Range
In Los Angeles entry level reservations and ticket agents earn from $22,000 to $30,000 per year and part time hourly positions are available at a pay rate of from $8.25 to 9.75 per hour, depending on the airline. [see current salary, wages & pay for this position]
Training Options & Costs
A high school diploma, GED, or an equivalent is usually required for entry level positions but completion of related coursework may enhance one's employability. Several local community colleges offer classes and training for reservations and ticket agents.

Courses include:
• Fares and Ticketing, which identifies airline and airport codes, and how to determine airfares and taxes;
• Internet Travel Research, which provides on instruction on how to navigate and access information from key travel industry web sites.

The colleges also provide various levels of instruction on Apollo and Sabre computer systems, the most widely used by airlines for processing reservations. The cost per course is generally $33.

Long Beach City College
1305 East Pacific Coast Highway
Long Beach, CA 90806
(562) 938-4353

Job Resources
There are 42 car rental companies and 76 airlines that operate out of Los Angeles International Airport and 5 car rental companies and 4 airlines that operate out of the Long Beach Airport. Princess Cruises reservation center in Santa Clarita also employs reservations agents. The Los Angeles World Airports website,, lists over 50 airlines that fly out of LAX that employ ticket agents.

The following are online resources for jobs in the airline industry, including reservations and ticket agents:

Avjobs, Inc. & Airline Employment Assistance Corp.
P.O. Box 630830
Littleton, CO 80163
Fax (888) 624-8691

This is an online career resource that provides employment assistance for jobs in the aviation industry. There are multiple levels of membership offered to meet your needs with an option to indicate job category preferences including reservations. The subscriptions are available monthly, quarterly and annually.
Susan W. Miller, M.A., is a National Certified Career Counselor, a Certified Vocational Evaluation Specialist and holds diplomate status on the American Board of Vocational Experts. She heads California Career Services, a private practice career counseling firm in Los Angeles.

Email career questions you'd like answered in this column to or visit California Career Services at

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