How to become a Tour Guide

Tour guides accompany visitors on local tours and guide tourists within a specific country, region, area, city or site. They provide special information on history, archaeology, monuments and works of art, the environment, culture, natural and built attractions, places of interest, and any general matters of interest to the visitor.

Personal requirements of a Tour Guide

  • Mature
  • Able to accept responsibility
  • Patient and tactful
  • Understanding and acceptance of different cultures
  • Good organisational skills
  • Excellent general knowledge of Australia and regional touring areas
  • Problem-solving skills and ability to think logically
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job

Education & Training for a Tour Guide

You can work as a tour guide without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a VET qualification in tourism, travel and tourism, or guiding. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a tour guide through an apprenticeship or traineeship in Tourism, Travel and Tourism, or Guiding. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school. Entry to this occupation may also be improved if you have relevant experience in the hospitality or tourism industries.

Duties & Tasks of a Tour Guide

Tour guides may perform the following tasks:

  • meet members of a tour on arrival and make introductions
  • coordinate pre-arranged accommodation and transport and make sure that tour members are comfortable
  • lead tour groups, drive coaches or limousines, advise tour members of local interest points, and prepare and present tour commentaries
  • coordinate pre-arranged tour activities such as visits to local attractions, restaurants or shops, train rides, cruises, extended tours, white water rafting, bushwalking and mountaineering
  • research and share general information on Australian Indigenous cultures
  • attend to operational problems such as booking errors and amendments, lost luggage or illness
  • provide first aid if needed
  • keep in touch with transportation companies
  • maintain written reports of daily activities and carry out other administrative work.

Working conditions for a Tour Guide

Being a tour guide is often physically demanding. During a tour, guides must be available at all times to answer questions and sort out problems. Manual work such as loading or unloading baggage or other equipment may be required. Tour guides are often required to spend time away from home, especially those fulfilling the role of tour manager.

Employment Opportunities for a Tour Guide

Most tour guides work casually on a contract or part-time basis, as employment tends to be seasonal. There are some opportunities for self-employment as a tour operator, tour manager or tour guide supervisor who trains tour guides. Some tour guides work at specific attractions such as museums, cultural centres, theme parks and sporting facilities. Fluency in languages other than English is highly desirable. There is often demand for tour guides who can speak Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, French and Italian.

Additional Information
Companies that specialise in ecotourism or nature-based tourism may require tour guides to hold a diploma or degree in science, ecotourism or a similar subject. First aid qualifications are generally required by employers. Age limits may also apply.
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