There are currently an estimated 45,800 tour guides in the United States. The tour guide job market is expected to grow by 10.5% between 2016 and 2026.
How employable are tour guides?
CareerExplorer rates tour guides with a D employability rating, meaning this career should provide weak employment opportunities for the foreseeable future. Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need 13,200 tour guides. That number is based on 4,800 additional tour guides, and the retirement of 8,400 existing tour guides.
Are tour guides in demand?
When most people hear the term ‘tour guide’ they commonly think of guides who show travellers around places of interest, either in one city or country or at multiple destinations as part of an extended tour. The fact is, however, the field employs different kinds of guides and the demand for and employability of those employed in each sector varies according to several factors. Certainly, job prospects for local tour guides who escort visitors to museums, galleries, and religious sites rely on an influx of tourists. These tour guides must be able to recall facts, figures, and events and be able to convey them in a compelling manner. Those guides who accompany groups on multi-city or multi-country itineraries are responsible for almost every tour detail and must possess exemplary organization skills and the ability to engage different cultures. In most European countries, local guides must pass rigorous examinations and must be licensed to practice. In North America, there are few regulations for tour guides and they are generally not required to obtain a license. Regardless of where these tour guides work, familiarity with local history and attractions, communication skills, comfort with public speaking, and knowledge of more than one language are definite assets for progressing in the field. A background in theatre or entertainment or experience in teaching will also improve a candidate’s employment prospects. ’Tour guides’ who work with corporations suffer from a misnomer. They are not tour guides. They are ‘trip directors’ or ‘travel directors’ or ‘tour directors’ and their responsibilities vary greatly from those of traditional tour guides. TDs, as they are referred to in industry circles, act more as traveling concierges who cater to the needs of participants on corporate reward or ‘incentive’ trips. Aspiring TDs need to be prepared for extremely long days, multiple changes to pre-planned programs, and often unexpected requests and demands from their guests who have in most cases won their trips for achieving sales or management quotas. Since TDs sometimes travel to and from destinations with their groups, they are more employable if they have at least a basic understanding of airline reservations and ticketing procedures, as well as language skills. A high energy level, ability to think on one’s feet, and a genuine desire to resolve issues are unofficially mandatory to be successful in this role.