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Tour Guide Training Programs

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest percentage of tour guides had obtained a Bachelor's degree.

The second highest percentage at 23.3% had only a high school diploma with 22% of tour guides having some form of college education. It is most important that you receive training to be a tour guide, whether you only have a high school diploma or a university degree. Various training academies and tourism schools have opened up to offer a more formal education to those who want to become tour guide and tour managers, although this was not the case a few years ago. Cherie Anderson, who we featured in our On the Job section, saw the desperate need for tour guide training programs and opened her online course, Professional Tour Management Training, which is now offered in over 1,300 colleges and universities across the U.S.

Although there is no official requirement in America for tour guides to have formal training, most people prefer to gain the knowledge and skills before going into the industry. Training facilities also often provide job placement and can recommend the best companies and employers to work for. Likewise, employers also prefer to hire candidates who have attended tour guide schools, as it shows that they are serious about the industry and it means that no additional on the job training needs to be given. Training also provides you with the necessary skills to open your own tour operation and gives you a better grasp of the touring procedures in the U.S. as well as overseas. Overseas, tour guides have different rules to follow. For example, in South Africa, tour guides have to be registered with the relevant Provincial Registrar. They have to have a certificate of competency which is issued by the South African Qualifications Authority and must also sign a code of conduct and ethics.

What Do You Learn on Tour Guide Training Course?

An example of what your tour guide training curriculum will consist of is provided here by the International Guide Association.

  • Travel Industry Terminology
  • How Are Tours Put Together by Tour Operators
  • Industry Trends
  • Profile of a Tour Manager/Director
  • Pre-Tour Departure Preparations
  • Public Speaking
  • Airline and Airport Procedures
  • Baggage Handling and Control
  • Client Welcome Preparation, content and delivery
  • Hotel Arrivals and Departures
  • Motorcoach Commentary
  • Cultural Practices
  • Being Environmentally Aware on Tour
  • How to Research
  • Leisure Days on Tour
  • City Tours (working with the local Tour Guide or doing it yourself)
  • Motorcoach Travel
  • Destination Itinerary Planning
  • Discussion with a Motorcoach Driver and Teamwork
  • Optional Excursions (what they are, how to present them, operate them and money handling)
  • Group Psychology
  • Passenger Emergencies
  • Industry Networking (Preparing your resume, telephone interview techniques and learning about hiring companies and their practices).

This is just a general idea of what a tour guide course can offer. To learn more about training courses and to get relevant contact details of the best accredited schools in the U.S and other countries, keep reading.

Training Academies and Schools

The training programs for tour guides cover various aspects of being a tour guide and offer you in depth education regarding how to do the job, from how to talk on the spot and provide narration, to how to organize and manage a tour group as a director.

Training programs are offered all over the world. In South Africa, tour guides are required to study and to obtain their mandatory certificate of competency must complete a National Certificate or Record of Achievement issued by any THETA (Tourism, Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Education Training Authority) accredited education and assessment suppliers. Training is predominantly offered as a 3 week course.

International Guide Academy

One of the most renowned tour guide training institutions, offering courses in America, Mexico, Canada, and China, as well as on board cruise ships since 1973, is the International Guide Academy, also known as the International Tour Management Academy. Based in Denver, Colorado, they offer a 2 week and a 4 week international tour management and tour guide course. The IGA/ITMA is fully endorsed by the International Association of Tour Managers (IATM) and the American Association of Tour Professionals.

Contact Details:
P.O. Box 370190
Denver, CO 80237-0190
Tel: (303) 780-0131
Fax: (303) 530-3553

Website: www.igaonline.com

Professional Tour Management Training

This online course offered by Cherie Anderson, provides prospective tour managers with in depth information taken from her years of being a tour guide and tour director. Here is what she had to say about her training program:

"When I train my students they are fully equipped. They can go and put on their resumes that they know procedures for international and domestic tours, they know safety procedures and requirements for hotels and airlines, and they know tour briefings. Very often, tour operators and companies will ask you what you cover in your tour briefings, and you don't know how tours are run with inbound tour operators, outbound tour operators, receptors services, DMC's, you're going to have a problem trying to answer that question correctly. You need to know documentation, the legalities, who the major employers are, what they look for and what they market to. When I do my training I share all of the names, I have companies that have contacted me looking for professionally trained tour directors which I post in my online class so when they go to the tour operators, they can say I'm a professionally trained tour director, this is what I know, they can list out their skills and immediately they have the attention of the tour company."

Contact Details:
P.O. Box 592
Lake Forest, CA 92609-0592
Tel: (949) 
830-8603
Email: tourtraining@aol.com
Website: www.tourtraining.com

International Tour Management Institute (ITMI)

ITMI has been operating for over 30 years offering 2 week travel courses with lifetime job placement assistance, and over 600 tour operator contacts.

Contact Details:
 625 Market Street, Suite 810, San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: (800) 442-4864 or (415) 957-9489
Email: travel@itmisf.com
Website: www.itmitourtraining.com

WashingTours and Events

World class tour guide training offered in Washington D.C. with seminars and workshops as additional training by world renowned tour director and trainer, Maricar Donato.

Contact Details:
Maricar Donato - WFTGA Accredited International Trainer
1711 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Suite 513, Washington, DC 20036-2136
Tel: (202) 234-1806
Fax: (202) 986-7443
Email: mcdonato@aol.com
Website: www.washingtour.net  

Travel Campus

Travel Campus offers an online tour guide course, as well as pre-requisite courses, IATA courses, and ASTA courses in all travel, tourism, and hospitality related careers.

Education Systems LLC
11038 Longdale Circle
Sandy, UT 84092
Tel: (800) 288-3987
Website: www.travelcampus.com

Miami Dade Community College Travel and Tourism Management Program

Miami Dade offers a great travel and tourism training program and is one of the biggest in the country. They offer 2 year degree programs, with shorter certification courses in tourism as well. Excellent internship programs and job placement services are offered as well, as this college has many strong connections in the tour industry.

Contact Details:
11380 NW 27th Avenue
Miami, FL 33167
Tel: (305) 237-1093

West Los Angeles College Department of Travel

Similar training is offered at this college located in Culver City, California catering for over 700 students.

Contact Details:
4800 Freshman Drive
Culver City, CA 90230
Tel: (310) 287-4293 or (310) 287-4200

The Tour Guide Training Corporation of Canada

The leader in Canadian travel training for both local and international tour guides. Classes range from those wanted to start a career as a tour guide and for businesses who wish to train front line staff.

Contact Details:
1 Cecil Found Crescent
Courtice, Ontario, Canada
L1E 2V9
Tel: (416) 737-0616
Email: info@traintheguides.com
Website: www.traintheguides.com/

The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides

The Blue Badge Tour Guide Training is offered throughout England and Scotland, to provide tour guides with a Blue Badge, the most recognized tour guide license in the country.

Contact Details:
The Guild House, 52d Borough High Street, London, SE1 1XN
Tel: (020) 7403 1115

Fax: (020) 7378 1705
Email: guild@blue-badge.org.uk or office@itg.org.uk

Website: www.blue-badge-guides.com or http://www.itg.org.uk/

Tourism Training Australia

A network of training authorities in Australia are listed on this site and it also gives you plenty of resources for furthering your education to be a tour guide in Australia and surrounds.

Contact Details:
GPO Box 2493, Sydney, NSW 2001
Level 5, 49 Market St, Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9286 3944
Fax: (02) 9290 1001
Email: reception@tourismtraining.com.au
Website: www.tourismtraining.com.au

THETA

THETA (Tourism, Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Education Training Authority) is the official training organization in South Africa for all travel and tourism accredited training programs.

Contact Details:
P.O. Box 1329
Rivonia 2128
South Africa

Call Centre: 0860-100-221
Tel: 011-217-0600
Email: theta@theta.org.za
Website: www.theta.org.za

Quick Fact: 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.

As you can see, training to be a tour guide is an important part of finding a better tour guide or tour director job and it is easier to be employed by various tour companies if you have training. Job placement is also usually offered by training institutes.

Quick Summary:

  • Although important, tour guide training is not required in most states and countries.
  • Most tour guide training programs are 2 to 5 weeks long.
  • Look for accredited colleges and schools.