How to be a tour guide?

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Becoming a tour guide can be a rewarding career, with opportunities to work independently or for a company. Certification may be required in some countries, and programs like the International Tour Management Institute can provide helpful training and connections. To become an expert in a specific area, research tourist hot spots, historical bureaus, and local experts. Working for a local travel agency or hospitality industry can also provide valuable experience and referrals.

When many people think of tour guides, they think of huge tourist attractions, like the Great Pyramids, or castles in Ireland. The truth is, if you live near something people love to see, you might have the opportunity to become a tour guide. Guides can earn a good living, work for a company or independently, and have generally rewarding work showing others something of beauty or interest every day.

Many countries require guides to be certified, and one of the first steps you’ll want to take in becoming a tour guide is to investigate the requirements for your local certifications, study for the exam, and pass. Generally, these exams are relatively easy and do not require additional schooling. Taking it early will ensure that when you’re ready to start working, you can do it legally.

There are also several programs to help people become a tour guide, the best known being the International Tour Management Institute. While you don’t have to go through a program, it can help you ensure you have all the fundamental information you need, and also help you make connections that will later help you land a job. Many programs offer placement services, which will help you connect with a travel agency somewhere in the world where you want to work.

If you already know the region you want to operate in, the next step is to become an expert in that area. If it’s a city or region, learn all the tourist hot spots and try to visit them at least a few times over the course of a year to get a feel for them in each season. Look up local historical bureaus and use their archives to do your own research and see if any books were written in the area. Find locals who are known experts in the field and see if you can have a day or two to walk you through and teach you things you might have missed in your own research.

If you want to become a tour guide in an area that has a central attraction or multiple attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China, do as much research about the attraction as possible. Read the regular touring books, but also look for more esoteric books that might have fun parts that your customers are unlikely to get in the standard manuals. If there are graduate students doing research in the area, see if you can spend a few days learning more in-depth information about your site. While this isn’t used for most clients, it will help set you apart from other tour guides and put you in a better position to answer any unexpected questions that come up.

A great step you can take to become a tour guide is to get a job with a local travel agency or somewhere in the hospitality industry. This will help you get an idea of ​​the travelers coming to your area and also the chance to get to know the hot destinations even better. Best of all, once you start operating as a tour guide, the agency or hotel will likely be more than happy to refer clients to you who want a personal tour.

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