In a previous article, we gave you some ideas about part time jobs you could do if you want to work outdoors rather than being cooped up inside an office or other workplace, all day. One of the ideas we put forward was working outdoors doing part time tour guide jobs so, in this article, we’ll look in more detail at what could be involved in this type of work so you can make a better decision about whether this is the type of job for you.

There are many different types of tour guide jobs out there and, as you might expect, not all of them are necessarily outdoor positions – you could be working in a museum, for example – but one thing is for certain, whatever type of role you work in, being a tour guide, even if it is on a part time basis – is going to be demanding, tiring and rewarding, all at the same time. If this sounds like the type of part time work you might be interested in, then read on to find out more.

What Are Tour Guide Jobs?

In a nutshell, tour guides show people around an area of interest and explain all the detail and information about that area of interest so that those visiting get a broader experience than they would have had they explored the area independently.

Depending on the company you work for, as a tour guide, you could be showing people around historic towns, cities, historic gardens or botanical gardens, religious sites such as cathedrals, museums, art galleries, royal parks, areas of cultural interest and, of course, archaeological sites such as Saxon and Roman ruins.

If you are thinking about making a career out of being a part time tour guide you could also eventually work for companies who take people overseas, too, as well as to sites around the United Kingdom.

Being a tour guide means you will be having completely different experiences on each tour you do, even if you are working on the same tour over a given period of time. Your customers will be completely different each time – sometimes great fun and sometimes, they could even be challenging – but this all adds to the variation in your days.

Part time tour guide jobs are ideal for those of you out there with excellent communication skills. Yes, you will need a fantastic memory for facts, names, dates, chronologies and stories and you will need to be able to communicate this to your audience in an interesting way that also keeps everyone entertained at the same time. But, you will also need to be good at dealing with lots of different types of people, including people from different cultures and backgrounds.

A good tour guide is tactful and sensitive when dealing with people on the tour. Sometimes, people from different countries and backgrounds might not be behaving respectfully towards each other but your organisational skills and personality will make sure everyone continues to enjoy the tour.

Many part time tour guides love what they do and often have the job as an extra on top of other part time jobs or studies. If you think you might be interested in working multiple part time jobs, click the link to read our article about the pros and cons of this.

What Types Of Tours Could I Be Doing?

The types of tours you could find yourself leading are:

  • Walking tours: This could be leading people around different areas of a city, for example, pointing out areas of interest and explaining their significance. Other types of walking tour could also be food tours where you stop by restaurants, delicatessens, local markets or other eateries that specialise in foods local to the area, for example. Gardens, archaeological sites, museums and art galleries could also see you clocking up the miles as a tour guide in these places.
  • Bus tours: We’ve all seen the double decker open top buses driving around the bigger cities of the UK. Do you think you could do seasonal or part time tour guide jobs, standing in front of a busload of tourists whilst explaining about and pointing out the significant sites of a city? This could make ideal summer work for the right person.
  • Boat tours: River cruises along the waters of major cities are always popular with tourists at all times of year, but particularly in summer. Many of these boats will require tour guides to point out the key sites.
  • Coach and minibus tours: Yes, working as a tour guide in the UK could see you covering longer distances where perhaps international tourists want to see more of the nation while they are around for a short time. These types of tours could involve stop offs, too, either at areas of interest or for food breaks. For coach and minibus tours, you could be sat down for a lot of time, commentating on the route, but other tours could see you doing that, along with multiple stop offs where you will also need to guide people around particular sites.

What Are The Main Duties Of A Tour Guide And Which Type Of People Does The Job Suit?

As we said above, part time jobs as a tour guide can see you in a variety of roles and this can depend on your qualifications and previous experience. Don’t worry, though. There are still opportunities for you in this sector if you are looking for part time entry level jobs, too. When you view this list of duties that a tour guide must carry out, you can decide if it is the right route for you to take as tour guide work is not going to suit everyone.

Organise and accompany groups on tours:

Part time tour guide jobs are not just about speaking into a microphone and commentating on areas of interest. The key word here is, ‘organise.’ To do part time tour guide jobs, you also need to be a confident, organised person who can lead a group of tourists. This can involve head counts to make sure you aren’t leaving anyone behind – it’s easy for people to wander off when they are on holiday and perhaps not concentrating.

Your organisational skills will also be required to:

  • Greet your group and explain the itinerary of the tour with approximate times for lunch breaks and stop offs, where necessary.
  • Check tickets and special requirements. Make sure everyone on the tour is supposed to be there and make sure any previously requested special requirements have been met.
  • If the tour is by vehicle, make sure everyone is seated safely and that they know where facilities are, as well as emergency exit routes.
  • Organise entry to attractions – you may have to purchase group tickets either as you enter or before the tour begins, for example, and this means you will also have to liaise with staff from those attractions.
  • Deal with unexpected occurrences. Tour guide jobs mean you could be faced with people in your group suddenly feeling unwell and you might need to get them to a pharmacist, doctor or hospital. As a tour guide you need to be able to stay calm and in control in these types of situations.
  • As a part time tour guide, some tours might last more than one day so you will need to liaise with hotel staff, organise people’s luggage collection and be around for your tourists, as well as do the commentary on the tour.

Be prepared to work flexible hours:

Many tour guide jobs, particularly outdoor jobs, will be seasonal work and there could be occasions where, depending on the type of tour you are leading, the tour might need to be called off due to bad weather, for example, or your vehicle could break down before you have even set off. Some part time tour guide jobs might require to work in the evenings, too, especially if you are doing tours such as haunted walks, for example.

Not all part time tour guide jobs will be outdoors and so if you are looking for part time work on a year round basis, there could be opportunities to work indoors at local museums or art galleries. These types of tour guide jobs might suit parents with young children who might not be able to work the longer hours throughout school summer holidays and other half term breaks that outdoor tour guide jobs would require.

Be prepared for the ‘loneliness’ of the job:

What? How can part time tour guide jobs make you feel lonely at work? Haven’t you got all of the tourists surrounding you throughout the tour? Well, yes, you have but you are in sole charge of them whilst you are guiding them around various sites. You might have difficult or challenging customers and you are the one who is in sole charge and who needs to deal with the situation so that your other customers can enjoy the tour.

It isn’t often that there will be more than one guide on a tour so you need to be a confident and independent person who can take charge of situations and make decisions on the spot. If you are used to working as part of a team to get jobs done then perhaps part time tour guide jobs are not for you.

Keeping up a smart appearance and behaving professionally at all times:

When you are working as a part time tour guide, you are on show all the time, throughout the tour and you are representing the company you are working for. This means your appearance must be smart and professional looking at all times and, it goes without saying, your behaviour must be exemplary.

It’s likely you will get lots of extra questions on top of the facts and figures you need to remember and you might even think that some of these questions are completely irrelevant. However, you will still need to be respectful to your customers – and be approachable, too – and answer all queries around the subject as best you can.

Now, about that smart appearance: It’s going to be necessary for many types of work as a tour guide but for some roles, be prepared for the fact that you might be required to get into get into character…and that could involve wearing a costume, too. In these cases, you will need to be the sort of person who is up for having a bit of fun whilst also leading your tour in a professional way.

Be fluent in the English language… And do you know another language, too?

Tour guides in the UK must be fluent in the English language and, if it isn’t your first language, you might need to do a verbal test before being awarded part time work as a tour guide. If you know another foreign language that is in demand, this could also be an advantage for you in getting extra work as a tour guide. Again, if it is a secınd language, a verbal test might be necessary to make sure your level of fluency is enough to deal with customer queries and problems, as well as your planned commentary.

What Training And Qualifications Do I Need To Be A Tour Guide?

Training and qualifications necessary to do part time tour guide work will vary between companies and for the types of tours you are hoping to be a part of. For entry level jobs, you will probably need Maths and English at GCSE level and it might also help you land a role if you have any related qualifications such as a History GCSE, for example.

For those of you who want to take indoor or outdoor part time tour guide jobs further and develop a long term career in the industry, there are also 4 different levels you can complete on the Institute of Tourist Guiding training programme. As you complete each level, your levels of competence will qualify you to be a guide on more varied tours. The Institute of Tourist Guiding does not provide the training itself but accredits courses which are submitted by training providers. You might find you are working as a part time tour guide for a company that offers this training.

Some companies may also give you the opportunity to do an HND or similar qualification in Tourism if you want to develop your career. And for some tour guide jobs, you might also be required to attend seminars and also do your own research so that you are keeping your knowledge of your specialist subject right up to date.

For those of you who do want to progress further, there can be opportunities to become tour managers or to work overseas, too. As you move on to the larger companies, you will be given the more lucrative tours once you have built up qualifications and experience.

How Much Will I Get Paid Doing Part Time Tour Guide Jobs?

For part time jobs as a tour guide, you will usually be paid on a daily, tour by tour basis and the amount your get paid will vary from company to company. Generally speaking, the more experience you have, the more you should get paid. Make sure the companies you do work for are paying at least the national minimum wage.

Some tour guides are self-employed and this might be worth thinking about if you have other commitments so you can dictate your own hours of work.

For extra earnings, you could be rewarded with tips at the end of your tour, especially if your tourists have really enjoyed their day, and, for some companies, there could be a commission involved if there are any sales opportunities.

Part Time Work As A Tour Guide – In Summary

So, as you can see, there is quite a lot of scope for those of you out there who think you might have what it takes to work as a tour guide. Many jobs will be outdoor jobs, some will be indoors, but you know that each tour you do will be packed with both fun and challenges that, at the end of each day, will make your job both tiring and rewarding, too.

Part time jobs are ideal for those of you with other commitments or for those of you who want to work a few hours a week whilst your children are small, for example. This doesn’t mean the work doesn’t have to be rewarding and tour guide jobs are an example of that. You can enjoy the job for what it is, or, if you decide you want to take things further with your career, there is also room for growth and progression. If you are looking for part time work either in the tourism industry, or elsewhere, take a look at our current listings to see if there is anything that might be of interest to you.