Tour guide: job description

Tour guides accompany groups of visitors to tourist attractions, whether on day trips or longer visits, and give them information and insights that help them make the most of the experience.

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Potential tour guides should be fit and healthy with lots of energy and confidence.

What do tour guides do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Due to Covid-19, you may find it difficult to gain work or experience as a tour guide. As we explain here, however, recruiters will not view time out of work due to the pandemic as a 'gap' in your CV. For guidance on searching for work during this difficult time, take a look at our advice for job hunting during a pandemic.

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 specialist press publications such as Travel Trade Gazette or Travel Weekly, as well as their online equivalents. It is advisable to make speculative applications.

Qualifications and training required

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.

Key skills for tourist guides

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.

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