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Tour Guide Training and Education Program Options

Read about bachelor's degree programs related to tour guide training here. Check out prerequisites and common course topics. Review the employment outlook projections and salary statistics for industry professionals.

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Essential Information

Already among the largest in the world, the tourism industry is expected to benefit from the retirement of the baby boom generation. For aspiring tour guides, a desire to travel and interact with people are favorable but not sufficient qualities for employment. Competition within the industry favors those who have training as tour guides. A number of schools offer tour guide certificate programs.

Tour guide certificate programs mix elements of business management with preparation for direct engagement with the public. Course content related to business management includes procedures for marketing a tour, planning routes and making reservations. Skills related to leading an actual tour include local area research, writing a prepared script and public speaking. A certificate program may be completed in a year or less.

Education Prerequisites

Enrollment in a tour guide program requires a high school diploma or GED. While admissions guidelines may not specify any particular course, composition and speech are helpful.

Program Coursework

Travel guide programs may be structured as a group of core and electives courses or as a fixed set of courses. The following are possible course topics:

  • Tourism introduction
  • Computer reservations
  • North American geography
  • Travel Research
  • Public speaking
  • Itinerary planning
  • Travel sales and marketing

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

People who complete a tour guide training certificate program are qualified to work as a tour guide or travel guide. However, some travel industry veterans caution that the field is very competitive and recommend accumulating experience working for local tour operators, museums and historical sites. Opportunities to promote cruise lines and countries or lead travel seminars and workshops may open up later for those who establish themselves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that from 2010-2020, employment of tour guides and escorts will increase 18% (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported the average annual salary of tour guides and escorts at $26,280 in May 2012.

Continuing Education Information

An associate's degree can improve the employment prospects of tour guides whose only postsecondary education came from earning a certificate. Some schools that offer tour guide certificate programs may also offer associate's degree programs in travel and tourism management, and accept transfer credits from the certificate program into the associate's degree program.

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