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Career Profile: Tour Guide

Why Is Tour Guidance a Job of Tomorrow?
Tourism to the U.S. is on the rise, and guides will be needed to show visitors around. Opportunities for tour guides will grow at a much faster rate than the average for all U.S. occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tour guides with one to four years of experience make an average salary of $22,500 annually, though salaries vary greatly depending on employer, according to PayScale, a company that specializes in compensation data.

What Does a Tour Guide Do?
Tour guides are responsible for informing and entertaining visitors. They must be well educated in the subjects they are discussing. Guides can work in a variety of settings, including museums, historical landmarks and with a travel company. Tour guides who work in a stationary setting, such as a museum or landmark, typically conduct several tours a day to different groups of visitors. They must select the most important and interesting information about the subject and present it to the visitors in a simple, yet appealing, way. Often, tour guides must adapt the information to suit the specific visitors. For example, tour guides at an art museum may present a more detailed tour to adults than they would to a group of schoolchildren. Tour guides may also work with a travel company that arranges private group tours across a region. In these cases, a guide may stay with a specific group throughout the duration of their tour, which can last several days to several weeks. These tour guides must keep their assigned groups comfortable and stimulated. They must also know a great deal about the history and cultural significance of the places they take tourists so that they may answer any questions.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Tour Guide?
There are no formal education requirements for tour guides, though most have at least a high school diploma. Training and certification programs are available from a variety of travel guide associations, such as the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations. These training programs are typically run by current tour guides and cover such subjects as industry knowledge and tour itinerary design. Tour guides must also be knowledgeable in the area they will be covering.