Working as a Tour Guide

How to Become a Tour Guide

A fun, easy job.

Tourism is one of the great sources of income for a country. Today,tourists worldwide provide over a quarter of a typical country’s income annually. Of course, it helps that the country has a lot of great places to interests tourists, and it’s the tour guides in the destination that can help make that experience complete. These well informed and enthusiastic employees color the portrait in the tourists mind on the history and elegance of the countries’ most beautiful places and guide them through them in their own creative ways.

But Tour Guides are more than just people who guide tours with a script that’s no doubt memorized. They have a lot of things going on for them. Learn how to become a tour guide and take the opportunity to share your country or destination with others.

What does a Tour Guide Do?

The tour guide has been wrongly portrayed by the media as either boring folk whose task is to share useless facts to the traveling group or as overly enthusiastic people who hammer away the whole tour with her very own memorized script. But there’s more to that to tour guides.

By textbook definition, a Tour Guide is an agent hired to travel with a tour group who provides assistance and historical, cultural and contemporary information on the place of the tour; religious sites, historical sites, museums, landscapes and any other sites which attracts visitors.

Tour guides can be independent, “freelance” tour guides – often having their own brochures, online travel guides, iPhone apps, or other features to highlight their expertise. Otherwise, guides can align themselves or become an employee of another organization or official tourism board.

Tour guides are expected to be very customer service oriented. They are expected to be able to speak in the language that the tour group wants him to speak in, must be able to hear the tourists no matter how soft they speak and must be able to constantly catch the attention of the tour group and can assist them in any way from carrying luggage and running other errands as well.

A tour guide sometimes may also have to help plan the product, which in this case is the tour itself. They are also the ones tasked with paperwork related to the tour before and after. A tour guide’s schedule calendar can be very random, after all tourism isn’t only active in the summer – even in destinations with year-round tourism, the offerings can vary per season.

The path on how to become a tour guide varies depending on the applicant. Here are some key points to remember:

  • First, you have to be educated on the history of the places you’d like to be a guide of, either on your own or at a Certified School for Tour Guides which is more recommended since you’ll get a certificate which will help you land that job. Certifications vary per country – if the country does have a certification, it is recommended to try and get it. Then it’s off to the tour company for the interviews.
  • At an interview the important points that you have to say and prove to your interviewer are:
    • you have good people skills
    • you are knowledgeable of the history of many places and can research quickly when assigned on a new tourist spot
    • you have a flexible schedule and can work at any given time except on holidays.

Try to be enthusiastic and confident when speaking with the interviewer as well as if talking to a respected friend. Of course, if you choose to freelance, you can skip the interviewing process, but then you’ll need to work on your marketing skills in order to promote and get the word out on your skills, both online (social media, a website, blog) and offline (brochures, directories, hotel concierges, etc.)

How much does a Tour Guide Make?

A tour guide’s earnings differ depending on the type of the tour. Tour guides or managers get paid much more on organized and lengthy trips, such as a trip to the cities of Europe with them escorting the travelers on the plane and on site. They get paid around $50 to $150 a day, while Tour Guides who handle short tours only earn $8 to $12 per hour. Freelancers earn more, but then they have more out of pocket marketing costs.

A good bonus to being a tour guide for a specific group are the tips, either from the clients or from the company itself which can add an additional $40 more or less to your salary per day, if you’ve followed the rules of how to become a Tour Guide properly. What’s more is that a tour guide may have travel costs covered by the company or the travelers, for things such as food or lodging expenses.
Why become a Tour Guide?

The path on how to become a Tour Guide and its workloads may be a bit challenging, but being a Tour Guide is a really great job. You get to go to places either you’ve always loved going to on vacation or have never been before. And researching the facts and the history behind these tourist spots and mastering other languages can prove to be fun and self enhancing as well. You get to interact with other people as well, which if you enjoy can be a very lucrative opportunity.

The Pros and Cons of being a Tour Guide


There are many benefits to being a Tour Guide or a Tour Manager. These are:

  • You get to travel to great vacation spots while also getting paid for it
  • If you work hard enough you may get good tips, making your salary very competitive.
  • Freelancing is an available option, giving you maximum work schedule flexibility.
  • You get to learn many things in this profession and are the expert on a destination or itinerary. After all, researching is one of the requirements on how to become a tour guide


Although Tour Guides have a lot of perks that come to them, they also get a lot of stress from work:

  • There isn’t always work available for them since most of their work depends on the season
  • They have to research thoroughly about the destination(s), especially if they’re new to it
  • Not all clients are easy to get along with, some can be quite troublesome and harsh especially if they don’t find you impressive.

Although these negatives might discourage you from being a Tour Guide, most tour guides will tell you the good out weights the bad.
Tour Guide Quotes

Has the prospect of becoming a Tour Guide instilled in you yet? Here are some quotes from Tourist Guides to get you going.

Of course we have fun! We get to experience all the things that people pay thousands of dollars to do. Some people think that the tour group is with you 24 hours a day, but they don’t want to be with you all the time! The tour group wants time to themselves and go off on their own. So you may have some days where you are working from morning until night but then there are other days when you may have a half day tour. When this happens you can go off and explore the destination on your own. Not to mention we participate in all the fun evening activities that are planned for the guests. For example, the evening might include a night out at the Moscow Circus or Shanghai Acrobats. As the tour director you get to be part of these incredible events. It really is a fantastic experience.

-Cherie Anderson, Tour Manager Trainer

“The travel was really incredible. In just three years I visited forty-eight of fifty states and eight of ten provinces, as well as several European countries. It was a lot of hard work, but I doubt any other job could have provided that kind of experience.”

-From an unknown Veteran Tour Guide


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