Tour Guide: Job Description

What is a tour guide?

A tour guide is a professional or a person that familiarize tourist with the history, function, and customs of a particular region or establishment. Even though clients are typically foreigners on vacation, virtually any person can attend a tour.

Tour guides work in the travel industry, giving guided tours to groups of people or visitors. Normally, they are experts on history and destinations. They offer their tour groups interesting or enlightening information about historical sites, museums, scenic locations, nature attractions, and other travel destinations. 

Tour guides may give walking tours, hiking tours, bus tours, or even lead river tours on a boat.

What does a tour guide do?

The work of a tour guide depends on their location and employer. If they are self-employed, they will usually give tours of publicly accessible travel destinations like national parks or nature attractions. Those who are employed by a visitor’s corporation offer tours of cities, industrial locations, or other points of interest. The three main areas of specialization within the guiding industry are historical tour guiding, corporate tour guiding, and nature tour guiding.

Tour guiding responsibilities

  • Greeting and welcoming visitors to the tour.
  • Informing customers about the itinerary for each tour.
  • Planning itineraries in accordance with weather forecast and the length of each tour.
  • Scheduling visits and purchasing tickets to museums, galleries, protected parks, and other attractions ahead of time, if required.
  • Planning alternative activities in the event that cancellation, closures, or weather prohibit you from attending scheduled events.
  • Gathering and maintaining the requisite equipment for each tour.
  • Familiarizing oneself with the layout and history of the region or establishment in which you will be working.
  • Familiarizing customers with each region or establishment.
  • Directing customers to other, non-competing services that might be of interest to them.


  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Prior experience as a tour guide is an advantage.
  • Capacity to stand and walk for extended period of time.
  • Adherence to prescribed safety codes.
  • Excellent conversational skills with a knack for storytelling.
  • Personable, humors disposition.
  • Outstanding organizational, time management, and improvisational skills.
  • Passionate about travelling.
  • Ability to work during evenings and on weekends.

What is a workplace of a tour guide like?

Tour guides work in a variety of environments and conditions. Museum tour guides, for instance, work indoors all year-around, while nature tour guide work outside and subject to the effects of climate and weather conditions. Typically, a tour guide’s work week is very structured, though they may work more or less than 40 hours. Since they work with travel industry, many tour guides lead tours on weekend. Some of them are employed for seasonal and temporary positions.

Wrap up

Regardless of the tour guide’s specialization, some fundamental responsibilities apply to all positions. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that everyone on the tour is as safe as possible. They will monitor the group’s activities to ensure that everyone follows the safety regulations of the site or guide. In some cases, they may be required to provide visitors with first-aid or emergency services. Itineraries are usually planned by tour guides as well. They will conduct extensive research prior to giving the tour and will be prepared and organized for every step of the process, from greeting visitors upon arrival to arranging transportation between locations. Guides must also perform clerical duties, collect fees, and, in some cases, promote gift shops and sell souvenirs.

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