Becoming a Travel Guide: A How-To

This space is devoted to producing resources to allow travel and tour guides to do their best work, but becoming a guide is the first step in providing excellent resources to travelers. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as one might think—several countries and cities require a certain amount of expertise and language proficiency to grant certification. Below, we have included several essential steps to becoming a travel guide in any country.


  1. Start with job postings. Though your dream may be to start your own travel guide or tourism company, you need experience. Tour guides can work at parks, historical sites and homes, sightseeing companies, cruise ships, and several other locations. Think about the type of guide you want to become, then cater your search terms to that goal.


  1. Take a few tours. An artist wouldn’t paint a landscape without knowing Monet—why should you attempt to lead a tour without taking one yourself? Utilize free services offered by museums and historic homes and parks in your area. Make a note of the pros and cons of these different tours and jobs.


  1. Understand the lingo. A tour director is different than a tour guide. The director is responsible for logistics, confirmations, planning, damage control, and group dynamics. They also provide commentary on history and culture. The tour guide gives a specific narration of a place, often just for a few hours at a time. Understand the type of travel tours you want to lead.


  1. Consider or sign up for training. The International Tour Management Institute (ITMI) is a well-known guide program. It offers two-week training sessions and an annual symposium to connect tour companies worldwide with guides.


  1. Consider schooling. If you have the time and resources, consider getting a degree in hospitality or tourism. While this will not guarantee a job in the field, it will equip you with the knowledge necessary to be a great travel guide.


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