Training for Tour Guides

Though a college degree is not a requirement (except by some tour operators), most tour directors have a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The second highest percentage have a high school diploma only (23.3%), while 22% of tour guides have at least some form of college education. Many guests on tours are themselves retired teachers, lawyers, doctors, and other professionals, so having a well-educated TD on the tour is a plus.

Some common college majors that will assist you in tour guide jobs include arts and humanities, business, criminal justice, education, engineering, science, social science, technology, and health care.

In terms of developing skills specific to the field of tour directing, newcomers will benefit themselves and their hiring prospects by taking a Tour Director/Tour Guide training program. Those who make the extra effort to learn the mechanics of this career field stand out from those who seek entry without the credential. Taking on the expense and effort to receive specialized training demonstrates to prospective employers that the newly-minted tour director is serious about this job and career choice, and no further training in how-to-do-this-job is needed. Many tour operators will only hire tour directors with proof of having completed this training. These programs often provide job placement services indefinitely for graduates.

There are formal training programs for tour guides that offer in-depth and hands-on education regarding how to do the job. What kinds of skills are taught in professional training programs?

Here is a sample of topics:

  • Travel industry terminology
  • How tours are put together by tour operators
  • Industry trends
  • Pre-tour departure preparations
  • How to do a briefing
  • Baggage handling and control
  • Cultural practices; how to research
  • What to do with leisure days on tour
  • Itinerary planning; motor coach commentary
  • Handling difficult passengers
  • Preparing your TD resume

See the websites in the CruiseJobFinder Members Section for a list of reputable training programs with more in-depth description of topics covered and practiced.


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