How to become a tourist guide
You can get into this job through:
- an apprenticeship
- a college course
- applying directly
- specialist courses run by private training organisations
You could do a travel and tourism qualification like:
- Level 2 Certificate in Travel and Tourism
- 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
- 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 an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
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:
- level 2 - white badge
- level 3 - green badge
- level 4 - blue 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.
You can find out more about becoming a guide from the Institute of Tourist Guiding.