Leisure and travel service occupations n.e.c. > Tourist Guide
Travel and tourism
Tourist guides show visitors around places of interest like cities, historic buildings and art galleries.
£18,000 Starter - £30,000 Experienced
28 to 30 seasonal (freelance / self-employed flexibly)
Where to start
You can get into this job through
an apprenticeshipa college coursevolunteeringapplying directlyspecialist courses run by private training organisations
You could do a travel and tourism qualification like Level 2 Certificate in Travel and Tourism or Level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism. This will give you an insight into the tourist industry and help you develop some of the skills to work as a tourist guide.
Having a language like French, German, Italian or Spanish, or a history qualification can also be useful for this type of role.
You may need 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a Level 2 course. You'll need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a Level 3 course.
You may be able to gain some of the skills needed in this role through Apprenticeships like:
- Level 2 Customer service practitioner
- Level 3 Event assistant
- Level 3 Cultural learning and participation officer
To get onto an apprenticeship, you'll find it useful to have:
some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for a Level 2 apprenticeship. You'll need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for a Level 3.
Organisations like the National Trust and English Heritage offer opportunities to gain experience as a tour guide through volunteering.
Many people become tourist guides as a second career, for example teachers who want to work during school holidays or actors who need work between acting roles.
If you have customer service, teaching or language skills or you have experience of working with people, you may be able to apply directly.
You can do 3 levels of training to get a tour guide badge:
You can apply to local tourist guide associations for training, or major tourist attractions that run their own schemes.
Guide London offers blue badge training, which usually takes around 18 months, and some heritage organisations, like York Minster, have their own training courses. An outgoing and friendly personality, plus being able to speak a second or third language, will give you an advantage when applying for jobs. Experience of dealing with the public and giving presentations will also help.
- level 2 - white badge
- level 3 - green badge
- level 4 - blue badge
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- customer service skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be flexible and open to change
- sensitivity and understanding
- an interest and knowledge of history
- a good memory
- knowledge of English language
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
You could be at the same site every day or take visitors to different venues on sightseeing tours of an area.
- guide people around a castle, gallery or historic house or garden
- escort groups around a site
- give information about the history, purpose and architecture of a site
- accompany groups on day tours to a number of interesting places or sites
- answer questions and suggest other places to visit
- organise or arrange for additional trips and visits
You could work at monuments and castles, in a museum, at an art gallery or in parks and gardens.
Your working environment may be physically active, outdoors some of the time and you'll travel often.
Career path and progression
With experience you could work for a tour operator as a regional tour supervisor or manager.