Guiding your way to a successful career

A good tour guide can take the hassle of planning out of your holiday.

A good tour guide can take the hassle of planning out of your holiday.

There's much more to the tour guide industry than meets the eye, and it takes a special kind of person to provide the perfect blend of friendly and informative guiding services to travellers and tourists.

The tour guide industry is a close-knit one, with some 4,300 people employed in the tour guide, museum and gallery sector in 2013 according to the Australian Government's Job Outlook. Because competition is tight, it's a good idea to take part in tourism training to help give you an edge over your competitors when it comes time to securing that coveted job. But first, take a look at what it takes to make it big in the industry.

Knowledge of the area and activity

If you're going to be showing people around a certain area or taking them through an activity, it pays to know as much as you possibly can about your subject. Whether that's learning everything there is to know about Melbourne's museums before embarking on an art and culture tour or schooling yourself on bike gears for beginners as you lead a cycling tour around the city, this knowledge will be priceless. Not only can you provide the best tour possible, but you'll also feel confident in your abilities to impart knowledge on those touring with you.

Energy and enthusiasm

The tour guide is the leader of the group at any one time, and has to handle a variety of situations that arise during the course of the activity. This attribute is particularly important if the tour is a physically demanding one – you can't give up and sit down halfway through a hike, or complain about how long a tour is taking. Cheerful, friendly and patient people with good senses of humour are ideal for this role. You should also be able to trouble-shoot and think on the spot, particularly when problems arise. For instance, an outdoor tour may hit a speedbump if it starts raining, so you need to have backups planned to keep everyone happy.

Learn more

To help launch your career in the tour guiding industry, consider a course such as Certificate III Guiding.This gives you training in first air, providing services to customers, cultural sensitivity, leading tour groups, preparing activities, maintaining general and regional knowledge, safe work practices, hazard identification and much more. Choose from electives including environmentally sustainable work practices and providing arrival and departure assistance.