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Tourist guide

Tourist guides show visitors around places of interest like cities, historic buildings and art galleries.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

28 to 30 seasonal

You could work: freelance / self-employed; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 1% fewer Tourist guide jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • guide people around a castle, gallery, historic house or garden
  • escort groups of tourists around a site
  • give information about the history, purpose and architecture of a site
  • accompany groups on day tours to a number of places of interest
  • answer questions and suggest other places to visit
  • organise or arrange for additional trips and visits

Working environment

You could work at monuments and castles, in a museum, at an art gallery or in parks and gardens.

Your working environment may be physically active, outdoors some of the time and you'll travel often.

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • a college course
  • volunteering
  • 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.

Entry requirements

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
For more information

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

Entry requirements

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
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

Organisations like the National Trust and English Heritage offer opportunities to gain experience as a tour guide through volunteering.

Direct application

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.

Other routes

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.

More information

Career tips

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.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a guide from the Institute of Tourist Guiding.

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With experience you could work for a tour operator as a regional tour supervisor or manager.

You can find out more about becoming a guide from the Institute of Tourist Guiding.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • a good memory
  • knowledge of English language
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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