Education and Training Requirements
A high school diploma is the minimum requirement to be a tour guide. Courses such as speech, communications, art, sociology, anthropology, political science, social studies, and literature often prove beneficial. Some tour guides study foreign languages and cultures as well as geography, history, and architecture.
Some cities have professional schools that offer curricula in the travel industry. Such training may take nine to 12 months and offer job placement services. Some two- and four-year colleges offer tour guide training that lasts six to eight weeks. Community colleges may offer programs in tour escort training. Programs such as these often may be taken on a part-time basis. Classes may include history, world geography, psychology, human relations, and communication courses. Sometimes students go on field trips themselves to gain experience. Some travel agencies and tour companies offer their own training so that their tour guides may receive instruction that complements the tour packages the company offers.
Other Education or Training
The National Tour Association offers webinars, networking events, and seminars at its annual conference to help members stay up to date with industry trends.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
The National Tour Association offers the voluntary certified tour professional designation to candidates who meet education, employment, and service requirements; complete required course work; and complete a learning portfolio.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Any experience one can obtain in customer service or leading local tours will be useful.
Successful tour guides are outgoing, friendly, patient, and confident. They must be aware of the typical travelers' needs and the kinds of questions and concerns travelers might have. As a tour guide, they should be comfortable being in charge of large groups of people and have good time-management and organizational skills. They also need to be resourceful and be able to adapt to different environments. Tour guides need to be fun-loving and know how to make others feel at ease in unfamiliar surroundings. Tour guides should enjoy working with people as much as they enjoy traveling.