Tourist Guide Careers

How to become Tourist Guide

What does a Tourist Guide do?

Tourist guides escort visitors around cities, historic buildings, gardens, religious sites, museums and other places of interest.

Some guides are based in one place such as a castle or historic house. They guide groups of visitors and give information on areas including history, purpose, architecture, furniture, paintings, flora and fauna.

Others accompany groups on day tours to interesting places or sites, for example sightseeing tours, tours for specialist interest groups and themed walks, giving detailed descriptions of the area and items/points of interest. 'Driver guides' drive small groups in cars or minibuses.

What's the working environment like working as a Tourist Guide?

Hours vary depending on the job. Seasonal work is common; part time work is possible. Many work 40-50 hours a week or more during the tourist season. Guides in historic buildings may work regular hours. Others work variable hours. Evening and weekend work is common.

Tourist guides can be on their feet for much of the time. They may work indoors and/or outdoors and may also travel in coaches, trains and boats. Some spend long or short periods away from home.

What does it take to become a Tourist Guide?

To be a tourist guide you should:

  • enjoy working with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • be confident speaking to groups of people
  • possess excellent communication skills, and have a clear voice
  • be able to present information in an interesting way, even when repeating tours many times a day
  • be physically fit with plenty of stamina
  • be able to memorise facts, figures and events
  • have an interest in the arts, history and other related subjects such as architecture
  • if working regularly with non-English speaking tourists, be fluent in appropriate foreign languages.

Tourist Guide Career Opportunities

Most tourist guides are self-employed, working for tour operators or coach firms. Organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage and other owners of visitor attractions and historic properties also employ guides, often on a seasonal basis, although many guides eg those in churches and cathedrals, are voluntary.

Guides often only work during the summer, or work part-time as guides alongside another career.

Many people enter tourist guiding as a second career, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Experienced guides may work for tour operators as tour managers.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Tourist Guide that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Institute of Tourist Guiding
Lloyd's Court
1 Goodman's Yard
E1 8AT
Tel: 020 7953 1257

The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides
The Guild House
52d Borough High Street
Tel: 020 7403 1115

Association of Professional Tourist Guides
33-37 Moreland Street
Tel: 020 7939 7690

Scottish Tourist Guides Association
Old Town Jail
St John Street
Tel: 01786 447784

People 1st
2nd Floor
Armstrong House
38 Market Square
Tel: 0870 060 2550

Facts and Stats:

  • France is the country most visited by tourists
  • Swimming is the most effective keep-fit activity, followed by cycling, rowing, gymnastics and judo
  • The British Airways London Eye is the largest big wheel in the world. Despite its 135 metre diameter, it is only the fourth largest structure in the city

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