Sightseeing Tour Guide Jobs

One of the best types of tour jobs available is that of a sightseeing tour guide. As with any type of tour guide the sightseeing tour guide needs to be well versed in the happenings and history of the area within which they work.

However, a lot of the time a sightseeing tour guide will be placed where they are needed, so they will have to do a lot of reading up about all of the stops on their itinerary.

This type of guide will generally work in a single area for an extended period of time, and will only do local travel. The guide will meet up with the travel group on the day of their tour and take the group around the city or area, and then leave the tour group at the end of the day, only to meet up with another tour group the next day. This makes the sightseeing tour guide job great for meeting new people.

Quick Fact: Being a sightseeing tour guide offers a bit more stability as you are stationed in one area for longer periods.

Job Responsibilities

While there is not a lot of planning involved in terms of national travel, your job as a sightseeing tour guide is to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Most of the planning will be done by your boss, the tour director, who will hand you an itinerary of the day’s events. You will then go and double check the bookings at restaurants, bus trips, boat rides and so on. If you live in a large city and your tours run for more than a day, then you will have to make sure that your tour group has accommodation for the nights ahead too.

Most of the time however, a sightseeing tour guide works for a few hours at a time, usually between eight and 10 hours per day. You will usually be responsible for driving the bus you are traveling in, making sure that there are snacks for your guests to nibble on and attending to customer complaints, but sometimes you are just the narrator and there is another guide who drives the coach. The work environment is stressful, as you have to deal with lots of people while keeping your eye on the traffic and narrating at the same time.

While you may get to see other cities and states, a sightseeing tour guide working in the same city can start to get bored. However, this will make you an expert on the sights and points of interest on the itinerary, and leaving you with the enjoyment of meeting new people and taking an interest in the passengers, leading to better tips.

Sightseeing Guide Job Requirements

To land a job as a sightseeing tour guide there are no real skills that you have to acquire, as most of the training is offered in-house. Tour companies do it this way to keep the starting salaries low, as you are learning on the job. However, you will need to have a few of the basic skills in order to qualify. All tour guides need to know how to and be comfortable with public speaking.

You need to have a sense of humor, and enjoy people’s company no matter where they are from. You will need to be comfortable with speaking for extended periods of time. You will also need to have a good knowledge of the tour area, history, as well as the plant and animal life. First aid is also a necessary part of your arsenal, as you will need to be prepared for just about anything.

Training & Degrees

The most important thing that a sightseeing tour guide is going to need is a CDL, Commercial Driver’s License, as he or she will often be responsible for driving the tour bus around the city or town. Other training necessary to perform his or her duties is given by the tour company before their first job.

If you do want to stand a better chance at landing a job with a better salary, or for a larger tour company you will sometimes need to have a degree in hospitality, human resources, geology, geography, history, tourism management, sociology and earth science. Any of these are acceptable. Various training programs for tour guides are also offered and licenses are required in certain states and cities in order to lead tours and carry passengers. Ask your prospective employer for details.

Salary & Benefits

An entry level sightseeing tour guide typically earns from minimum wage to $12 per hour, and seeing that most tours only last a few hours a day, there is not a lot of money to be made as a sightseeing guide when you just start out, especially if you have no degree. If your employer allows tips, then earnings can be considerably better.

The more exclusive tour operators will pay more and experience sees a guide earning up to $15 an hour, which is a little better. However, taking into consideration that you do not need to buy your own food, or pay for transport, you do get to save up a large chunk of your earnings over time. The other great thing about it is that you do stand a chance of receiving a promotion to be a Tour Director as you gain more experience. The biggest benefit, as mentioned by most tour guides, is that you get paid for something that does not really feel like work, as well as travel around the beautiful area in which you reside, whether it is a city or a town.

While staying in a single area for extended periods may not appeal to some people, the thought of being grounded may appeal to others.

Quick Summary:

  • You get to earn money while you learn how to do the job.
  • Be an expert on the area you tour.
  • Stand a chance of getting promoted later down the line, as you gain experience.
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