Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Travel Agents

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

With more people travelling internationally, job prospects within the travel industry have improved. But, employment is still fairly tight due to changes in the structure of the industry, including the rise of online travel booking. Overall, the chances of getting a job as a travel agent are average, as the industry recovers and worker turnover continues to create openings for new and experienced travel agents.

How to become a travel agent

What they do

Travel agents make travel arrangements and bookings for clients, and provide information about tourism attractions in the country of destination. They may sell airline tickets; book accommodation, tours and attractions; do ticketing; and process payments.

Travel agents can work in a range of areas, including retail (in a ‘high street’ travel agency), corporate (arranging travel for business customers) and online (using web tools and services).

Qualifications needed

Most employers want applicants to have a qualification. The New Zealand Certificate in Travel (Level 4) is the minimum qualification accepted by the Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) member employers. Travel consultants with at least five years' selling experience can apply to gain this qualification as an Experienced Consultant Award through ServiceIQ. Qualifications are designed to provide the applicant with all the skills required to be ready for work. Generally, when a person is hired their induction process will put the practical finishing touches on the qualifications.

Travel wholesalers and travel consolidators generally need some further specific training. In addition, those seeking to work on meetings and events, and conference and incentive arrangements, would benefit from some specific training.


Cost of study

National Certificate in Travel (Level 4)Bachelor of Tourism Management
$4,500 over one year $19,000 over three years

Average costs in 2016 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

A number of tertiary institutions offer courses in travel and tourism. There are also universities offering courses. On-the-job training is organised through ServiceIQ.

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing Level 4 tourism studies certificates has fallen slightly in the last few years.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2016, the average income for travel agents was estimated to be around $48,500. Travel agents are salaried, but they also receive commissions or bonuses depending on their sales. They can often earn sales incentive bonuses if they meet set targets.

Salaries for travel consolidators can go up to $100,000 or more (including commission and bonuses).

Senior managers and owners of agencies may make considerably more in salaried earnings and bonus payments.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Travel agents’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
4,458 3,963 4,101 3,829
  -1.7% 0.5% -1.4%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category ”Personal Service and Travel Workers”.

Overall employment in this occupation is showing a decline in numbers, with forecast growth of 0.5% per year until 2020, and a 1.4% fall per year out to 2025.

The more detailed picture is somewhat mixed. More agents are using technology (increasing their productivity), and many people are booking their own travel online. This means the demand for labour lags behind the expansion of the market. Ongoing staff turnover, however, means that there are a fair number of opportunities at entry level.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
8% 28% 9% 57% $30,700

Source: Ministry of Education
*Two years after completion of L4 Certificate - Tourism. ‘Overseas’ refers to the percentage of ALL graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators refer only to graduates living in New Zealand.

Two years after completing a Level 4 Certificate in Tourism, most graduates were in employment, while relatively few were in further study. A few were overseas, and relatively many were receiving a benefit. The median salary was around $30,700 two years after completion.

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job advertisements for tourism and travel advisers has lagged behind the overall average since 2008. In April 2016, the number of ads was still slightly lower than it was in April 2008.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Travel agents vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Travel agents may progress into management roles or may start their own businesses.

They may also specialise in specific roles such as a travel wholesalers (selling airline tickets, accommodation, and tours to retail travel agents) or become travel brokers.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level travel agents.

  • Sales Representative
  • Tourist Information Officer
  • Travel Adviser
  • Travel Broker
  • Travel Consultant

Other information


More information on travel agents is available on the Careers New Zealand and TAANZ websites.

Careers New Zealand: 
Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of travel agents has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

4516 – Tourism and Travel Advisers