Find Out More About Tour Guide Jobs Here
Tour Guide Jobs are fascinating and exciting that carries many responsibilities and is extremely rewarding: you get to work with people from different cultures, to see the world and learn about a wide variety of topics from first aid to negotiation. Work as a tour leader, tour manager, tour director – it doesn’t matter what the title is – the job is pretty much the same all over the world.
Consider spending a few years working as a Tour Guide and get paid to travel!
Here are a few things to consider;
Aspects of the Tour Guide’s Job: A tour guide’s duties will vary according to the type of tour company employing you. If you work for an over-landing tour operator you may have to drive the vehicle, carry out vehicle maintenance, cook on a camp stove.
For Example; Over-landing is travelling with a group on a specially designed vehicle over often rough terrain. It usually involves eating al fresco, camping in camp sites or ‘bush camping’ where no facilities are available, where you sleep under the stars. It may be in the silence of the desert or among the cacophony of noise in the jungle…..you are close to nature.
If you work as a tour director for a coach tour company you will probably have to do narrations en route, organize seating, answer lots of questions. The benefits are;
- Whatever type of job you have in this field, you get to work with people when they are happy – most people don’t go on holiday to be in a bad mood, or complain. It’s lots of fun!
- Tour Guide jobs are never boring. You get to solve problems, think on your feet, and be inventive. You may encounter danger; you’ll certainly encounter the unexpected.
- You get to travel free, and even get paid for it.
- You meet all sorts of interesting people, from all over the world. Some you get to work with, some will be your clients
Here’s what some tour guides have said about their job:
‘…..challenging, painful, thrilling, inspiring, exhausting …’
‘…..the most exciting, fun, scary, off-the-wall job I’ve ever had…’
‘….the best job in the universe…’
Working as a tour leader is demanding and the better prepared you are, the more you’ll enjoy your work and the happier your clients will be, not to mention safer, and more likely to travel again with your company!
For top tips on Tour Guide Jobs, see my e-book ‘How to get a job as a Tour Guide’
Do you want to;
- Make friends with people of all nationalities and backgrounds?
- Learn about other countries and cultures?
- Learn new languages or improve your foreign language skills?
So here is what you need to be aware of:
- Long hours, no fixed routine. You are on duty 24/7!
- Some expense – not all meals will be covered and alcohol won’t be!
- Long periods away from home
- Repeating the same itinerary several times
- Often the time you spend doing a reconnaissance (what’s this?***) of a destination will be unpaid
- Work can be seasonal with no guarantee of further contracts
- You may be self-employed, with no job security or redundancy pay.
- Some tour companies offer performance bonuses – inquire about this at your interview. Don’t be afraid to mention pay – it is not a dirty word and no one expects you to work for free, or without knowing what your finances will be.
- You must be fit and healthy – there’s no one to take over from you on tour (but in the case of serious illness the company will usually send out a replacement leader/guide)
- There will be difficult situations to deal with – it isn’t an easy ride! Your problem solving skills will be tested regularly during your work.
- Do a sketch map of every route – you may not remember them all!
***A reconnaissance (French) is a pre-tour visit to a destination to get to know it, make contact with local hotel personnel/guides/agents, seek out restaurants suitable for groups, and make yourself known. If there are any walks or cycle rides on the tour itinerary, now is the time to do them yourself, making notes of difficulty, any hazards, duration, optional alternative routes, and so on. There is no substitute for your own knowledge of a destination or walking route; even other tour leader’s notes are not always reliable (circumstances / staff may have changed, paths disappeared…)
The Tour Guide Course will teach you everything you need to know to do well at interviews and get a job as a tour guide, tour director or tour manager.
The good news: adventure tour operators are always recruiting! Many tour leaders usually only work for a few years before they move on, either to settle down or because they have simply ‘burned out’. And research shows that even in times of recession, people take holidays, though they may not travel as far afield.
The bad news: the job is very demanding. It can be stressful, it is certainly lonely.
Job application procedures: after completing an application form, which can usually be obtained from the tour operator’s website (read any published guidelines before completing it), you may be invited for interview. At the interview you will surely be asked how you would cope in certain situations, to see if you can think ‘on your feet’ – an important aspect of the job. If successful at interview you may then spend some time (anything from a day to two weeks) training. This may include ‘shadowing’ an experienced tour leader.
Background and experience: some tour operators stipulate certain qualifications and/or experience. Overland truck companies require you to have a suitable driving licence and possibly also a mechanical qualification. Other tour operators need their leaders to be able to speak the language of the region/s they specialize in. Others still, e.g. bird watching tour specialists, require their leaders to have knowledge of their particular field. Mostly though, tour leaders need to be resourceful and bright, with good communication skills, regardless of their age or background.
Access our Tour Guide Jobs Board Course here