Tour guides get the best of both worlds: they get to travel or tour an amazing location and they get paid for doing it. If you’ve always wanted to work at a museum, a park, a zoo or anywhere else that offers tours, you might make a great tour guide. Even if you have no knowledge of a subject, don’t let that keep you from pursuing your dreams. Many tour guides start out with little or no knowledge of an area, but quickly become experts. All you need is the right teacher and a lot of patience.
Some tour guides prefer to start their careers by getting an education. There is more to this career than just knowing about the Amazon or the Museum of Natural History; you must also have carefully developed people skills as well as public speaking abilities. You must have a voice that is loud enough to instruct large groups of people and you should be well-educated on various safety measures. Most tour guides must have, at a minimum, certification in CPR and First Aid.
One of the best things about being a tour guide is that you can make a good bit of money, but you don’t have to have a four-year college degree. Some tour guides don’t have any formal training at all, while others take courses at various educational institutions such as the International Tour Management Institute. This gives you an advantage of your competition, even though it isn’t always necessary. If you want to learn more about gaining an education as a tour guide, visit itmitourtraining.com.
Your next step in becoming a tour guide is to get a job with a major tour company. This is often a better option than being hired by a small and private organization because you’ll have the chance to work in different places and possibly make more money. To find out about major tour companies and organizations, you can visit United States Tour Operators Association website at USTOA.com. In most cases, it is best to work with a tour company in your home country, even if you hope to work abroad, because they can support you as you apply for work visas and other documentation.
Most tour guides start on an hourly wage in addition to tips and bonuses. If you are able to draw a larger crowd to your tour facility, your salary and benefits will usually increase. The average tour guide makes between $18,000 and $35,000 per year, according to Salary.com, but many make as much as six figures after they’ve built a positive reputation. Obviously, you’ll make more money as a tour guide for a cruise line than you will for a local museum or attraction, but you should also look at the benefits packages when making your decision.
Remember that all tour guides should be personable and willing to answer questions. How you handle customers will be as important as your knowledge on the subject of the tour, so start working on communication and customer service skills. If you are shy about public speaking, this may not be the career for you, because you will often be the center of attention. A loud speaking voice, a gregarious personality and a sense of humor are all great qualities for a successful tour guide to have.