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Travel Specialists

Significant Points
  • This occupation ranks among those with the largest number of job openings.
  • Opportunities should be best for applicants with extensive knowledge of computer software applications.
  • Travel Assistants and administrative assistants are increasingly assuming responsibilities once reserved for managerial and professional staff.
Nature of the Work

Travel Specialist provide expert advice and support to Area personnel and senior management on matters relating to local, domestic, and foreign travel and relocation programs.  Other responsibilities include administering and maintaining travel management software, monitoring system problems, and seeking corrective action for identified problems. 

Travel Specialist and administrative assistants perform a variety of administrative and clerical duties necessary to run an organization efficiently. They serve as information and communication managers for an office; plan and schedule meetings and appointments; organize and maintain paper and electronic files; manage projects; conduct research; and disseminate information by using the telephone, mail services, Web sites, and e-mail. They may also handle guest arrangements.

Travel Specialist and administrative assistants use a variety of office equipment, such as fax machines, photocopiers, scanners, and videoconferencing and telephone systems. In addition, secretaries and administrative assistants often use computers to do tasks previously handled by managers and professionals; they create spreadsheets, compose correspondence, manage databases, and create presentations, reports, and documents using desktop publishing software and digital graphics. They may also negotiate with vendors, maintain and examine leased equipment, purchase supplies, manage areas such as stockrooms or corporate libraries, and retrieve data from various sources. At the same time, managers and professionals have assumed many tasks traditionally assigned to secretaries and administrative assistants, such as keyboarding and answering the telephone. Because secretaries and administrative assistants do less dictation and word processing, they now have time to support more members of the executive staff. In a number of organizations, secretaries and administrative assistants work in teams to work flexibly and share their expertise.

Some Travel Specialist and administrative assistants, also known as virtual assistants, are freelancers who work at a home office. They use the Internet, e-mail, fax, and the phone to communicate with clients. Other duties include medical or legal transcription, writing and editing reports and business correspondence, answering e-mail, data entry, setting appointments, making travel arrangements, bookkeeping, and desktop publishing.

Work environment. Travel Specialist and administrative assistants usually work in corporate settings, government agencies, or legal and medical offices. Virtual assistants work from a home office. Their jobs often involve sitting for long periods. If they spend a lot of time keyboarding, particularly at a computer monitor, they may encounter problems of eyestrain, stress, and repetitive motion ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The majority of Travel Specialist and administrative assistants are full-time employees who work a standard 40-hour week. About 18 percent of secretaries work part time and many others work in temporary positions. A few are self-employed, freelance (such as virtual assistants), or participate in job-sharing arrangements, in which two people divide responsibility for a single job.

Travel Specialist, GS-0301-07

Nature and variety of work

1. Serves as the Area Federal Agency Travel Administrator (FATA) and resource manager for the e-Travel system. Responsible for loading, up-dating, and maintaining system tables to include personnel tables, organizational tables, group tables, permission tables, and routing tables, and lines of accounting, budgets, and reports. Identifies and recommends system solutions, i.e., analyzes unfavorable outcomes, and based on the information gathered, recommends a course of action. Serves as the Help Desk Administrator for Area Users and Authorizing Officials; provides clarifying instructions to users when periodic vendor changes are made to the system which can occur without corresponding updates; monitors system usage; and enters new system users.

2. Assists with conducting training classes for Area employees that are tailored to individual or group needs. Includes Area policies, procedures, and utilizes web based training, video conferencing, and other methods for presentations. Assists Financial Management Division-Travel and Relocation Services Branch in developing Agency-wide training classes and participates in the delivery.

3. Serves as the key contact for the Area and provides technical advice and guidance on travel, e.g., domestic and foreign travel, attendance at domestic and international meetings, to employees, program staff, and management officials.

4. Advises Area and location management officials on authorization of relocation benefits for transferees and new hires. When costly items such as real estate expenses are authorized, performs cost analysis by calculating relocation entitlements under various scenarios (i.e., using third party Relocation Services and developing options for new hires). Advises management of the most cost-effective means in which to proceed with a relocation allowance in terms of budget impact. Monitors relocation obligations in TRVL in order to assess their effect on Area accounting reports.

5. Counsels employees and family members on all aspects of relocation, providing advice and guidance on inquiries related to residence titles or entitlement to immediate family allowances under extenuating circumstances, e.g., separate travel and temporary quarters.

6. Responds to Agency inquiries concerning the use of travel funds for conferences, travel advances, and justifications for use of premium class travel, etc.

7. Researches precedent cases in the General Services Administration (GSA) Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Decisions for applicability to resolution of unique or unusual problems in the travel and transportation area.

8. For official travel outside the U.S., coordinates the procurement of documents such as official passports and assists employees in applying for visas. Contacts the foreign embassy for additional information, and provides information to Headquarters to obtain country clearances. In cases of longer stays in foreign countries, provides advice on submission of periodic travel vouchers for reimbursement of funds and sets a subsistence rate in keeping with actual expenses, etc. Advises traveler on any medical requirements related to the travel.

9. Maintains the official Area records and directives for foreign travel and attendance at international meetings. Prepares periodic or on-demand reports on foreign travel.

10. Serves as the Area expert for the Foreign Travel Information System (FTIS). Manages the Passport Tracking System. Monitors official passport expiration dates, processes documents to renew or obtain new passports. Tracks passports and updates FTIS with their physical location. Ensures the traveler possesses a current official passport for the duration of trip. Instructs personnel on the use of FTIS for the approval process of all foreign travel and trip reports.

11. Serves as the Area administrator for the travel card program. As such, approves and processes requests for new travel credit cards, monitors adherence to travel card policy and procedures, provides advice and guidance on travel card use, trains Area personnel, monitors reports for indication of misuse of the travel card, ensures accounts are closed in a timely manner, and serves as liaison with travel card vendor for resolution of issues and problems relating to travel card use.

12. Examines, evaluates, and recommends alternative means of meeting travel requirements for unusual situations, i.e., interrupted travel due to illness or family emergencies, unplanned foreign travel with short time frames, and rerouting travelers due to program or emergency needs.

13. Determines if travel funds contributed by outside sources are allowable, and prepares responses for the authorizing official’s signature.

14. Reviews for compliance and recommends action on proposed travel authorizations requiring approval of the Area Director, or higher authority. Coordinates and/or initiates special travel authorizations for all non-routine travel, e.g., attendance at international meetings, transfer of official station, use of premium class travel, foreign travel, and travel of non-government employees.

Travel Specialist, GS-0301-09

Nature and variety of work.

At this level the employee provides expert advice and support to Area personnel and senior management on matters relating to local, domestic, and foreign travel and relocation programs. Other responsibilities include administering and maintaining travel management software, monitoring system problems, and seeking corrective action for identified problems.

Major Duties

1. Serves as the Area Federal Agency Travel Administrator (FATA) and resource manager for the e-Travel system. Responsible for loading, up-dating, and maintaining system tables to include personnel tables, organizational tables, group tables, permission tables, and routing tables, and lines of accounting, budgets, and reports. Identifies and recommends system solutions, i.e., analyzes unfavorable outcomes, and based on the information gathered, recommends a course of action. Serves as the Help Desk Administrator for Area Users and Authorizing Officials; provides clarifying instructions to users when periodic vendor changes are made to the system which can occur without corresponding updates; monitors system usage; and enters new system users.

2. Analyzes and interprets Federal, Departmental, and Agency policies and procedures related to travel, relocation, and travel systems affecting the fiscal management of Area activities. Analyzes effect on current processes and modifies or develops procedures for situations involving foreign travel, emergency travel for natural disasters or program emergencies, and recurring travel for scientific research, etc. Researches problems and issues effecting programs. Initiates and drafts advisory correspondence to Area locations, including implementation guidance for new policies, directives, and procedures for release by senior management.

3. Develops training aids and conducts training classes for Area employees that are tailored to individual or group needs. Includes Area policies, procedures, and utilizes web based training, video conferencing, and other methods for presentations. Assists Financial Management Division-Travel and Relocation Services Branch in developing Agency-wide training classes and participates in the delivery.

4. Serves as the key contact for the Area and provides technical advice and guidance on travel, e.g., domestic and foreign travel, attendance at domestic and international meetings, to employees, program staff, and management officials.

5. Advises Area and location management officials on authorization of relocation benefits for transferees and new hires. When costly items such as real estate expenses are authorized, performs cost analysis by calculating relocation entitlements under various scenarios (i.e., using third party Relocation Services and developing options for new hires). Advises management of the most cost-effective means in which to proceed with a relocation allowance in terms of budget impact. Monitors relocation obligations in TRVL in order to assess their effect on Area accounting reports.

6. Counsels employees and family members on all aspects of relocation, providing advice and guidance on inquiries related to residence titles or entitlement to immediate family allowances under extenuating circumstances, e.g., separate travel and temporary quarters.

7. Responds to Agency inquiries concerning the use of travel funds for conferences, travel advances, and justifications for use of premium class travel, etc.

8. Researches precedent cases in the General Services Administration (GSA) Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Decisions for applicability to resolution of unique or unusual problems in the travel and transportation area.

9. For official travel outside the U.S., coordinates the procurement of documents such as official passports and assists employees in applying for visas. Contacts the foreign embassy for additional information, and provides information to Headquarters to obtain country clearances. In cases of longer stays in foreign countries, provides advice on submission of periodic travel vouchers for reimbursement of funds and sets a subsistence rate in keeping with actual expenses, etc. Advises traveler on any medical requirements related to the travel.

10. Maintains the official Area records and directives for foreign travel and attendance at international meetings. Prepares periodic or on-demand reports on foreign travel.

11. Serves as the Area expert for the Foreign Travel Information System (FTIS). Manages the Passport Tracking System. Monitors official passport expiration dates, processes documents to renew or obtain new passports. Tracks passports and updates FTIS with their physical location. Ensures the traveler possesses a current official passport for the duration of trip. Instructs personnel on the use of FTIS for the approval process of all foreign travel and trip reports.

12. Serves as the Area administrator for the travel card program. As such, approves and processes requests for new travel credit cards, monitors adherence to travel card policy and procedures, provides advice and guidance on travel card use, trains Area personnel, monitors reports for indication of misuse of the travel card, ensures accounts are closed in a timely manner, and serves as liaison with travel card vendor for resolution of issues and problems relating to travel card use.

13. Examines, evaluates, and recommends alternative means of meeting travel requirements for unusual situations, i.e., interrupted travel due to illness or family emergencies, unplanned foreign travel with short time frames, and rerouting travelers due to program or emergency needs.

14. Determines if travel funds contributed by outside sources are allowable, and prepares responses for the authorizing official’s signature.

15. Reviews for compliance and recommends action on proposed travel authorizations requiring approval of the Area Director, or higher authority. Coordinates and/or initiates special travel authorizations for all non-routine travel, e.g., attendance at international meetings, transfer of official station, use of premium class travel, foreign travel, and travel of non-government employees.

16. May serve on Agency study teams related to travel, relocation and travel card use, and policy in order to gather information on system use, flow of documents, and approval processes.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Some of the occupational series covered by this standard include both one- and two-grade interval work. The qualification requirements described in this standard apply only to those positions that typically follow a two-grade interval pattern.

Undergraduate Education: Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in any field leading to a bachelor's degree, in an accredited college or university, meets the GS-5 level requirements for many positions covered by this standard. Others have individual occupational requirements that specify that applicants must, in general, (1) have specific course work that meets the requirements for a major in a particular field(s), or (2) have at least 24 semester hours of course work in the field(s) identified. Course work in fields closely related to those specified may be accepted if it clearly provides applicants with the background of knowledge and skills necessary for successful job performance. One year of full-time undergraduate study is defined as 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours.

Superior Academic Achievement: The superior academic achievement provision is applicable to all occupations covered by this standard. See the "General Policies and Instructions" for specific guidance on applying the superior academic achievement provision.

Graduate Education: Education at the graduate level in an accredited college or university in the amounts shown in the table meets the requirements for positions at GS-7 through GS-11. Such education must demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work.

One year of full-time graduate education is considered to be the number of credit hours that the school attended has determined to represent 1 year of full-time study. If that information cannot be obtained from the school, 18 semester hours should be considered as satisfying the 1 year of full-time study requirement.

Part-time graduate education is creditable in accordance with its relationship to a year of full-time study at the school attended.

For certain positions covered by this standard, the work may be recognized as sufficiently technical or specialized that graduate study alone may not provide the knowledge and skills needed to perform the work. In such cases, agencies may use selective factors to screen out applicants without actual work experience.

General Experience: For positions for which individual occupational requirements do not specify otherwise, general experience is 3 years of progressively responsible experience, 1 year of which was equivalent to at least GS-4, that demonstrates the ability to:

  1. Analyze problems to identify significant factors, gather pertinent data, and recognize solutions;
  2. Plan and organize work; and
  3. Communicate effectively orally and in writing.

Such experience may have been gained in administrative, professional, technical, investigative, or other responsible work. Experience in substantive and relevant secretarial, clerical, or other responsible work may be qualifying as long as it provided evidence of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA's) necessary to perform the duties of the position to be filled. Experience of a general clerical nature (typing, filing, routine procedural processing, maintaining records, or other nonspecialized tasks) is not creditable. Trades or crafts experience appropriate to the position to be filled may be creditable for some positions.

For some occupations or positions, applicants must have had work experience that demonstrated KSA's in addition to those identified above. Positions with more specific general experience requirements than those described here are shown in the appropriate individual occupational requirements.

Specialized Experience: Experience that equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the work of the position to be filled. To be creditable, specialized experience must have been equivalent to at least the next lower grade level in the normal line of progression for the occupation in the organization. Applicants who have the 1 year of appropriate specialized experience, as indicated in the table, are not required by this standard to have general experience, education above the high school level, or any additional specialized experience to meet the minimum qualification requirements.

Combining Education and Experience: Combinations of successfully completed post-high school education and experience may be used to meet total qualification requirements for the grade levels specified in the table, and may be computed by first determining the applicant's total qualifying experience as a percentage of the experience required for the grade level; then determining the applicant's education as a percentage of the education required for the grade level; and then adding the two percentages. The total percentages must equal at least 100 percent to qualify an applicant for that grade level. Only graduate education in excess of the amount required for the next lower grade level may be used to qualify applicants for positions at grades GS-9 and GS-11. (When crediting education that requires specific course work, prorate the number of hours of related courses required as a proportion of the total education to be used.)

The following are examples of how education and experience may be combined. They are examples only, and are not all-inclusive.

  • The position to be filled is a Quality Assurance Specialist, GS-1910-5. An applicant has 2 years of general experience and 45 semester hours of college that included 9 semester hours in related course work as described in the individual occupational requirements. The applicant meets 67 percent of the required experience and 38 percent of the required education. Therefore, the applicant exceeds 100 percent of the total requirement and is qualified for the position.

  • The position to be filled is a Management Analyst, GS-343-9. An applicant has 6 months of specialized experience equivalent to GS-7 and 1 year of graduate level education. The applicant meets 50 percent of the required experience but none of the required education, since he or she does not have any graduate study beyond that which is required for GS-7. Therefore, the applicant meets only 50 percent of the total requirement and is not qualified for the position. (The applicant's first year of graduate study is not qualifying for GS-9.)

  • The position to be filled is a Music Specialist, GS-1051-11. An applicant has 9 months of specialized experience equivalent to GS-9 and 2 1/2 years of creditable graduate level education in music. The applicant meets 75 percent of the required experience and 50 percent of the required education, i.e., the applicant has 1/2 year of graduate study beyond that required for GS-9. Therefore, the applicant exceeds the total requirement and is qualified for the position. (The applicant's first 2 years of graduate study are not qualifying for GS-11.)

Related Occupations

Workers in a number of other occupations also type, record information, and process paperwork. Among them are:

A growing number of secretaries and administrative assistants share in managerial and human resource responsibilities. Occupations requiring these skills include:

Sources of Additional Information

Information on obtaining Travel Specialist positions with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at http://www.usajobs.gov or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or  (703) 724–1850  or TDD (978) 461–8404 and   (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, download the Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process” online here.

Sources:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition; and
  • Office of Personnel Management, Position Classification Standards.

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