Summer Guide Jobs

Being a tour guide can be fun and lucrative. Tour guide jobs, however, are not for everyone.



The best guides have outgoing personalities, a sense of humor, love to tell stories, and maintain an interest in history. If you have ever been on a tour, then you know that the most enjoyable guides are those who are engaging and hold your interest. Companies that hire tour guides understand that their guides are ‘the face of the company,’ and go through great lengths to make good hiring decisions. If all goes well, then those tourists go back and tell their friends about the positive experience, which results in referrals and/or return visits.

Summer tour guide jobs are found in national parks, in the cruise ship industry, in big cities, and elsewhere. As a guide you could be working on a trolley in San Francisco; on a bus rolling through Washington, D.C., stopping at national monuments and museums; in a van touring Yellowstone National Park; on a nature trail in the Appalachian Mountains; or in a cave! A tour guide’s environment is nothing like an office cubicle!

In addition to tour guides there are also seasonal guide positions: river rafting guides, bike tour guides, fishing guides, and trail guides. While guides in these positions should and do provide trip narrative, their true value is found in a particular area of skill — such as navigating a river or finding fishing holes.

Many of the summer jobs outlined on JobMonkey pay a base wage plus overtime and include benefits such as free or discounted room and board. In the case of many guiding jobs the compensation upside is considerably greater because of tips (gratuities). Over the course of three months a good, busy guide in a ‘high ticket’ travel environment could earn many thousands of dollars from tips.

All the while you might be enjoying free room and board from your employer, especially if your job is in a remote location.

Another benefit of guiding is that you meet many people from all areas of the country or even the world. The opportunity to network is tremendous, and can be helpful after college graduation or when you’re trying to change jobs. One of your grateful customers may give you a business card and invitation to get in touch, “when you’re in my area.”

Since tour guides are so important to their employers there exists an opportunity to move up in the company or move into different geographical locations if desired. Large companies, such as the major cruise lines, travel worldwide and employ guides both on land and at sea. If you’ve proven yourself as a capable guide, then they’ll want to keep you on. We have known guides who worked land-based summer jobs with cruise companies throughout college only to go full-time after graduation.

The JobMonkey Land Tour section and job board are great places to find tour guide information and job postings. You will learn about:

  • Sightseeing guides
  • Step On guides
  • Shore Excursion guides
  • Adventure Travel guides
  • and other guide positions!

We give you detailed information about becoming a guide and how to be successful in your position. Guiding can be among the most rewarding and lucrative summer jobs anywhere.

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