Skip Navigation Determining Interests
Job Descriptions

Tour Guide

Tour guides can work in a variety of contexts (e.g., art museums, science museums, colleges/universities, libraries, zoos, cities). As a tour guide, their main purpose is to educate visitors/guests by providing useful, important, and unique facts about a particular topic.  If you are working as a tour guide, you will need to be enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the content that you are describing.


This job usually requires a high school diploma and/or a GED certificate. Depending on the type of work context (e.g., museum vs. city), your employer may require that you have some college experience as well. For example, some employers may indicate that a bachelor's degree in any of the following subjects is preferred: Business, marketing, history, science.

Previous Experience

Previous experience working as a tour guide in any capacity is preferred. However, depending on the type of work context you are applying to work in, some employers may require that you have specific knowledge and experience of certain subjects. If this is the case, they will specify this requirement in their job advertisements. If you have the required education and skills, it is strongly encouraged that you apply anyways.

Job Duties

  • Greet visitors/guests and take any tickets required for tours.
  • Escort and lead groups of visitors around the premises, landscapes, or streets.
  • Describe and provide useful and interesting information (e.g., historical or cultural facts) for groups of visitors regarding points of interest, artwork, exhibits, buildings, or geography.
  • Memorize any scripts and supply pertinent information in a narrative format.
  • Address and answer questions that any visitors/guests may have.
  • Conduct research and study materials provided to you about the topics you will be speaking about.
  • Report any observations, concerns, or incidents to supervisory or security staff that may require action and attention.
  • Know all safety procedures as you are responsible for large groups of people (e.g., knowledge of fire exits, elevators, and restroom facilities).
  • Your employer may also ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.

What’s Your Scene?

This job requires that you are able to work ‘In the Scene’. If you are working as a tour guide, you will be working with the public on a regular basis.  You will be speaking with and interacting with tour visitors/guests daily and must have relatively strong social skills as you will be required to entertain them.  You will also need to interact with co-workers (e.g. other tour guides, drivers, your supervisor) regularly.

Skills / Abilities

Customer Service Skills - You will need to know how to provide excellent customer service.  This includes being able to determine if the customer is satisfied, and to meet their needs. It requires the ability to accept complaints from customers, and to calmly deal with high stress situations and angry customers. Displaying a pleasant and cooperative attitude is important.

Oral Expression - You will be required to speak clearly and effectively.

Reading Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to read, and follow written instructions and ideas.

Oral Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to understand and follow verbal instructions and ideas.

Knowledge and Enjoyment about the Required Topic - You will need to be able to demonstrate enthusiastic knowledge regarding a particular topic.

Strong Public Speaking and Presentation Skills - This job requires that you are able to speak in a clear, concise, and entertaining manner by demonstrating your enthusiasm for a topic. This can be in the form of jokes, or demonstrating special attention to historical and cultural facts that are also unique and interesting.

Research, Memorization and Retention Skills - This job may require that you conduct your own research about a topic. In addition, excellent memorization and retention skills are required to regularly share large amounts of information with the public. Sometimes the information will vary depending on what types of questions are asked of you.

Environmental Demands

Location - The location of your job may vary greatly, depending on the type of tour guide that you are. For example, if you work at a museum, you will be indoors in a climate-controlled setting. However, if you work as a city, college, or zoo tour guide, you may be walking outdoors, or riding in an outdoor bus (e.g., double-decker bus). This means that you will be exposed to the sun and rain.

Noise Level - The noise level will range from moderate to loud depending on the amount of people in your tour group and depending on the type of setting you are located in. For example, museums typically require that you speak in a reasonably moderate tone. However, if you are outdoors, you may need to speak much louder or use a megaphone (a microphone that amplifies your voice).

Lighting Level - The lighting level will differ depending on your type of job. For example, if you work in a museum, there is typically natural to soft lighting. However, if you work outdoors, you will be directly exposed to natural sunlight.

Work Hours - This job may have short working shifts. Most tours are open from morning to evening, and will have varied hours depending on the type work setting. For example, you may work in a museum that is only open from 9am to 6pm, or a city tour that runs from morning to evening. You will need to check with your supervisor for the schedule.

Amount of Movement - This job typically requires that you stand and walk for long periods of time. You will need to be able to sit, stand, walk, and climb steps for this job.

Cleanliness and Odors - This job setting will typically be clean if you are working indoors (e.g., a museum).  If you are working outdoors (e.g. a city tour bus), you may be exposed to food smells that visitors/guests are eating or other smells around the city.

Work Attire - Most employees working as tour guides are required to wear some form of employer identification, including uniforms, costumes, hats, vests, jackets, name badges, and/or  shirts with the company logo.

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a moderate degree of structure and predictability.  This means that you might complete the same tasks each day (give the same tours over and over).  You will probably work in the same areas each day.  You might not always know ahead of time how long each tour will take to complete, depending on the size of the group.  You will not interact with the same people (i.e. particularly visitors/guests) each day. 

What's the Pace?

    • Steady: In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that there might be a tour for you to conduct every hour with a medium-sized (5-7) group of people. 
    • Peak: There might be other times when the site (e.g., museum) is very busy and you are required to conduct back-to-back tours (e.g., 1 tour every half hour) with a large-sized (8-15) group of people. This may be a more stressful period because you will be trying to entertain a large group of visitors at the same time.
    • Slow:  There may also be some "down time," when there are very few visitors/guests at the site.  This may be a more boring period, where you are required to just wait for something to do. 

Have you taken our Interests Quiz? You can take this quiz to get suggestions about jobs that may match your general interests.