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Tour guide

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Summary of occupation

Tour guides escort people on sightseeing trips and tours of particular countries, cities, historical sites, monuments, and tourist attractions. They provide information about the history and culture of a particular place. On some tours, they may drive vehicles, organise accommodation, travel tickets and entry to attractions, provide first aid if required and carry luggage. In WA, they may take visitors on tours of Perth's Bell Tower or Kings Park, lead outback tours, conduct wine tours of the south west or provide history on local Indigenous culture.

ANZSCO description: Escorts visitors on sightseeing, educational  and other tours, and describes and explains points of interest.
Alternative names: Tour Escort, Tour Leader
Specialisations: Regional Guide
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A tour guide needs:

  • friendly and helpful nature
  • excellent general knowledge of WA
  • good physical fitness
  • excellent communication and people skills
  • to be able to organise themselves and others
  • to be responsible, honest and reliable
  • an aptitude for problem solving
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Working conditions

Tour guides work in a variety of locations, depending on the type of guiding they do. Some may work indoors, giving tours in art galleries, museums or historical buildings. Others may spend most of their time outdoors, leading walking tours of cities, towns and parks, leading bush walks, or conducting visits to outdoor monuments. Most tour guides are on their feet for most of the day, or confined to tour transport that can be cramped. Tour guides frequently do shift work and work in the evenings and on weekends. If they are conducting a travelling tour, they can be away from home for a few days up to a few months. They share accommodation, transport, meals and outings with their tour group, so have very little free time to themselves. On these trips they are generally available at all times to answer questions, provide information and deal with problems.

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Salary details

On average, gallery, museum and tour guides can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a tour guide develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Tour guides may use microphones, video cameras, maps, guide books and display photos or diagrams in their work. They may also use commentary notes that they write themselves and memorise, as well as information handouts for visitors on their tour. If they conduct long tours, they may also need to drive a bus or coach and use equipment for cooking, navigation and setting up camp sites. They are frequently required to wear a uniform or special clothing that protects them from harsh weather conditions and assists them in walking, trekking and other tour activities.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a tour guide without formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in tourism, guiding or a related area.

The Certificate III in Tourism (Guiding) and the Certificate III in Guiding are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship. The tour guide, tour guide (nature-based), winery guide, local guide, remote area guide or driver guide traineeships usually take 12 to 24 months to complete.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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