For aspiring tour guides, competition within the industry favors those who have formal training. A number of schools offer tour guide certificate programs. Course content related to business management includes procedures for marketing a tour, planning routes and making reservations. Skills related to leading an actual tour include local area research, writing a prepared script and public speaking. A certificate program may be completed in a year or less.
Tour Guide Certificate Programs
Enrollment in a tour guide program requires a high school diploma or GED. While admission guidelines may not specify any particular course, composition and speech are helpful. Travel guide programs may be structured as a group of core and electives courses or as a fixed set of courses. The following are possible course topics:
- Tourism introduction
- Computer reservations
- North American geography
- Travel Research
- Public speaking
- Itinerary planning
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Already among the largest in the world, the tourism industry is expected to benefit from the retirement of the baby boom generation. People who complete a tour guide training certificate program are qualified to work as a tour guide or travel guide. However, some travel industry veterans caution that the field is very competitive and recommend accumulating experience working for local tour operators, museums and historical sites. Opportunities to promote cruise lines and countries or lead travel seminars and workshops may open up later for those who establish themselves.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that from 2019 to 2029, employment of tour guides and escorts will increase 5% (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported the average annual salary of tour guides and escorts was $32,200 according to May 2020 figures.
Continuing Education Information
An associate's degree can improve the employment prospects of tour guides whose only postsecondary education came from earning a certificate. Some schools that offer tour guide certificate programs may also offer associate's degree programs in travel and tourism management, and accept transfer credits from the certificate program into the associate's degree program.
Prospective tour guides can gain formal training to better their chances at employment. Skills such as travel research and public speaking are taught, to prepare graduates for a career as a tour guide.