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Tour Guide

Tour guides escort individuals or groups of people on tours and describe points of interest.

  • Avg. Salary $27,426.00
  • Avg. Wage $16.32
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
Also Known As

Driver, Guide, Recreation Guide, Sightseeing Tour Guide

NOC & Interest Codes
The Tour Guide is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Tour Guides
NOC code: 6441.1
SOCIAL

Interest in speaking to sightseers to answer questions; may sell souvenirs

METHODICAL

Interest in copying information to describe points of interest, supply information and provide historical and cultural facts related to the site

directive

Interest in making transportation and other arrangements

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 09, 2016

In general, tour guides:

  • greet customers (tourists) and describe the content and length of the tour
  • conduct people on tours of cities, local points of interest, historical sites or establishments such as legislative buildings, cathedrals, bars or wineries
  • provide information about the area, related events, attractions, features and facts of interest to the group
  • answer questions and distribute information or promotional materials
  • ensure that tourists follow applicable safety regulations and rules of conduct
  • implement emergency evacuation procedures should the need arise.

Tour guides often find out as much as possible about the groups they will be guiding beforehand to select points of interest and provide commentary appropriate for the age and interests of the group.

Driver guides operate tour vehicles as well as perform the duties listed above.

Step-on guides frequently work with out-of-town coach drivers who may be unfamiliar with local sightseeing routes. Step-on guides must be familiar with local routes and traffic disruptions (for example, road construction) and be able to provide clear, timely directions as well as narrate the tour. They also must be familiar with the size of the coach and choose appropriate routes to avoid undue negotiating by the driver.

Meet and greet guides welcome arriving tourists, assist with collecting luggage and clearing customs, and take individuals or groups to hotels or tour assembly locations.

Establishment or on-site tour guides escort visiting groups through facilities such as museums, art galleries, night clubs, industrial plants, historical sites or public buildings. In addition to the duties listed above, they may:

  • interpret history and culture as it relates to the site
  • assist with reception or office administration duties
  • escort or drive visitors to their destinations
  • show audiovisual presentations or select appropriate music
  • conduct educational activities for specific groups (e.g. school children or people whose first language is not English).

For information about guides who escort groups on holiday tours, see the Tour Director occupational profile. For information about mountaineering, hunting and fishing guides, see the Outdoor Sport and Recreation Guide occupational profile. For information about guides who conduct tours of historical or heritage sites, see the Heritage Interpreter occupational profile. 

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 09, 2016

Tour guides may be on their feet for much of the working day, pointing out spots of interest and answering questions. They may work irregular hours that include evenings and weekends, and may have to work through meal times. They may work on a volunteer, part time, seasonal or contract basis.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 09, 2016

Tour guides need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to create a friendly, enthusiastic atmosphere
  • the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people and children
  • the ability to project their voice to be heard by all group participants
  • knowledge related to the tours they conduct 
  • the ability to respond to unexpected situations quickly and effectively
  • a good memory for details
  • lots of patience.

They should enjoy meeting and talking to people and sharing information.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 09, 2016

Knowledge of the history of the area or establishment, or subjects related to the tour (for example, art, crafts, horticulture, ethnic cultures), first aid training and the ability to speak more than one language are definite assets. Some employers require applicants to have CPR and standard first aid training.

Tour guides are trained on the job. After an initial training period, some employers require tour guides to pass an examination to ensure that company standards are met.

The Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council offers emerit Tour Guide training and certification.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 09, 2016

Guides who operate vehicles must have appropriate licenses and may be tested again as part of the job interview process.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 09, 2016

Tour guides may be volunteers, or employed by tour operators or organizations that own or operate facilities. They may be employed full time, only for summer months or part time on a year-round basis. Tour guides employed on a full time basis must be mature. Summer guiding positions often are filled by university students.

Experienced tour guides may advance to supervisory positions. However, advancement opportunities are generally limited and require the ability to train new guides.

Tour guides are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6531: Tour and Travel Guides. In Alberta, 83% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 09, 2016

Tour guides are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6531: Tour and travel guides. 

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Tour and travel guides occupational group earned on average from $14.44 to $18.15 an hour. The overall average wage was $16.32 an hour. For more information, see the Tour and travel guides wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Visual Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Tourism
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Driver Training
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 09, 2016

Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) website: www.ahla.ca

Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) website: www.cthrc.ca

Discover Tourism website: www.discovertourism.ca

emerit website: www.emerit.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 29, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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