Tourist guide

Tourist guides show visitors around places of interest like cities, historic buildings and art galleries.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


What's it all about?

You'll work in one place or accompany groups on driving or walking tours.

You'll escort groups around sites, giving information about history, purpose, architecture or other points of interest.


You could do an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in cultural heritage operations before applying to become a tour guide.

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

Other Routes

You can do 3 levels of training to get a tour guide badge:

  • level 2 - white badge
  • level 3 - green badge
  • level 4 - blue badge

You can apply to local tourist guide associations for training, or major tourist attractions that run their own schemes.

Guide London offers blue badge training, which usually takes around 18 months, and some heritage organisations, like York Minster, have their own training courses.

An outgoing and friendly personality, plus being able to speak a second or third language, will give you an advantage when applying for jobs. Experience of dealing with the public and giving presentations will also help.

£18,000 to £30,000

Starter salary: £18,000

Experienced salary: £20,000

If you're self-employed, your rate of pay will depend on your location and the type of guiding you're doing.

Freelance Blue Badge tourist guides, driver guides and those with additional languages may earn more.

These figures are a guide.


Your working hours will vary through the year. You could work up to 40 hours a week during the peak season and are likely to work at weekends and some evenings.

You'd usually spend most of your working time on the move, and may work indoors or outdoors.

With experience you could work for a tour operator as a regional tour supervisor or manager.

You can find out more about becoming a guide from the Institute of Tourist Guiding.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to present information in an interesting way
  • a good memory for facts, figures and events
  • organisational skills for planning tours
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