Tour guides show groups round attractions such as historic monuments, cultural centres and beauty spots, and provide them with background information to help them make the most of their visit. They may work with day-trippers or on walking tours, or support tourists on longer visits that involve overnight stays, perhaps to rural or remote locations. Tour guide jobs sometimes also call for chauffeuring and language skills. Typical responsibilities include:
- undertaking research and planning tours
- preparing and giving presentations
- offering sightseeing advice
- organising and leading excursions
- problem solving
- translating and interpreting
- transporting and accompanying tourists
Many tour guides work on a seasonal basis and combine tour guiding with other work, but there are full-time roles available.
Adverts appear in local and national newspapers and specialist press such as Travel Trade Gazette or Travel Weekly. It is advisable to make speculative applications.
A degree is not required for entry into this profession. However, it could be an advantage to have national vocational qualifications or a degree in an appropriate subject such as leisure, travel, tourism, or languages.
Work with the general public, or experience gained within the hotel, tourism or travel trades is usually beneficial.
There are accredited tourist guide training programmes that cover a range of destinations, including London, and that enable you to qualify at three different levels for three different types of guiding: at sites, on guided walks, and on a moving vehicle. Blue Badge holders are qualified for all three modes, while green badge holders can offer guided walks and can also act as tour guides at sites in a specific area. White Badge holders can either provide guidance at a specific site or on a walk along a fixed route. The Institute of Tourist Guiding has more information about these qualifications.
Potential tour guides should be fit and healthy with lots of energy and confidence, be able to work effectively without supervision, possess a calm 'customer focused' manner, and have excellent interpersonal skills.
Language and first aid skills are useful, as is a driving licence.