What they do
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.
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.
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.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to 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 II in Tourism, Certificate III in Tourism and Certificate III in Guiding are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.
You can also undertake a traineeship in tourism (guiding) (level 2 or level 3). The traineeships take 12 months to complete and the traineeship in tourism (guiding) (level 2) is available as a school-based traineeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing