Tourist guide

Tour guide, Blue Badge guide

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

Salary range: £18,000 to £30,000

How to become a tourist guide

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations

Apprenticeship

You could do an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in cultural heritage operations before applying to become a tour guide.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information

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.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

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

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • working in one place like a castle or historic house
  • escorting groups around a site, giving information about its history, purpose and architecture
  • accompanying groups on day tours to a number of interesting places or sites

Working environment

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

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and you’ll travel often.

Career path and progression

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

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