Tour guides work in a variety of locations, ushering visitors and giving them an insight into the heritage of their surroundings. Some tour guides work on coach tours, providing a rolling commentary whilst visiting key sites whereas others guide tourists on foot.
If you are interested in becoming a tour guide or if you would like to find out what it takes, details follow on how to become a tour guide.
If you are interested in a career as a tour guide you need to be a well organised and enthusiastic individual. To train as a tour guide there aren't any fixed entry requirements but a good standard of general education is required, usually five GCSEs at grade C or above.
Speaking a foreign language will also give you an advantage. Not only will you be eligible for work in other countries but you will also be able to communicate well with tourists from abroad visiting Britain.
As you will be talking extensively about the areas you are guiding people around a keen interest in general knowledge and humanities will help. Knowledge of local history, architecture and culture such as arts and folklore is useful. If you are working as a permanent guide for one particular site you will usually be provided with training on site.
Daily Tasks of a Tour Guide
Tour guides work in locations such as town centres, castles and other historic sites, churches and on coach tours.
For the majority of your daily work you will be talking to people so previous employment in a public service roll and experience of public speaking is an advantage. As the purpose of a tour is to entertain you need to keep the content light and engaging and sometimes adjust it to suit your audience.
Depending on where you are working you may need to give talks about a variety of different subjects. This may include the history of a place or movement, architecture, art or natural features of gardens and rural areas. In order to convey the message you will need to practise your material and memorise key points in the tour.
Most tour guides work freelance signing short term contracts with tour operators or coach firms. Some tour guides seek permanent employment with groups such as the National Trust and heritage boards who manage castles and other sites of interest.
Generally speaking most tourism work is seasonal as tourists tend to visit locations during the summer. Some guides who work in small establishments such as church or cathedrals work as unpaid volunteers.
If you stay employed as a tour guide you may be able to apply for jobs as tour operators or managerial staff. The Institute of Tourist Guiding is the governing body which regulates qualifications for tour guides. Qualifications can be obtained at different levels allowing applicants to specialise in specific areas such as conservational trails.
Courses are organised by tourist boards and colleges. The Institute of Tourist Guiding can be contacted to find out about courses in your area. Once qualified, applicants can continue to further their skills suing a continual learning program regulated by The Institute of Tourist Guiding.