A high school diploma or its equivalent is the most common educational requirement for reservation and transportation ticket agent and travel clerk jobs. Some employers, however, prefer applicants who have completed college coursework in management or business. Experience with computers, including good typing skills, also is usually required. Some jobs require applicants to be over 18 years of age and posses a valid driver’s license. Agents who handle passenger luggage must be able to lift heavy objects.
Most airline reservation and ticket agents learn their skills through formal company training programs that can last several weeks. Here, they learn company and industry policies as well as ticketing procedures. Trainees also learn to use the airline’s computer system to obtain information on schedules, fares, and the availability of seats; to make reservations for passengers; and to plan passenger itineraries. In addition, they must become familiar with airport and airline code designations, regulations, and safety procedures. After completing classroom instruction, new agents work under the direct guidance of a supervisor or experienced agent. During this time the supervisors may, for example, monitor telephone conversations to improve the quality of customer service so that agents learn to provide customer service in a courteous manner, while limiting the time spent on each call.
In contrast to those who work for airlines, reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks who work for automobile clubs, bus lines, and railroads are trained on the job through short in-house classes that last several days.
Many reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks deal directly with the public, so a professional appearance and a pleasant personality are important. A clear speaking voice and fluency in the English language also are essential, because these employees frequently use the telephone or public-address systems. In addition, fluency in a foreign language is becoming increasingly helpful for those seeking reservation and ticket agent jobs.
Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks may advance by being transferred to a position with more responsibilities, or by being promoted to a supervisory position. Many travel companies fill supervisory and managerial positions by promoting individuals within their organization, so those who acquire additional skills, experience, and training improve their opportunities for advancement. Some companies require that candidates for supervisory positions have an associate degree in a business-related field, such as management, business administration, or marketing. Within the airline industry, a ticket agent may advance to lead worker on the shift.