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Career profile Tour Guide

Also known as Art Museum Docent, Discovery Guide, Docent, Guide, Historical Interpreter, Museum Docent, Museum Educator, Museum Guide, Science Interpreter, Tour Guide

Tour Guide

Also known as Art Museum Docent, Discovery Guide, Docent

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$20,430 - $47,660 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
  • Social Perceptiveness
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • History and Archeology
  • Communications and Media
Core tasks
  • Describe tour points of interest to group members, and respond to questions.
  • Escort individuals or groups on cruises, sightseeing tours, or through places of interest, such as industrial establishments, public buildings, or art galleries.
  • Monitor visitors' activities to ensure compliance with establishment or tour regulations and safety practices.
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What does a Tour Guide do?

Tour Guides escort individuals or groups on sightseeing tours or through places of interest, such as industrial establishments, public buildings, and art galleries.

What kind of tasks does a Tour Guide perform regularly?

Tour Guides are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Describe tour points of interest to group members, and respond to questions.
  • Escort individuals or groups on cruises, sightseeing tours, or through places of interest, such as industrial establishments, public buildings, or art galleries.
  • Monitor visitors' activities to ensure compliance with establishment or tour regulations and safety practices.
  • Conduct educational activities for school children.
  • Research various topics, including site history, environmental conditions, and clients' skills and abilities to plan appropriate expeditions, instruction, and commentary.
  • Provide directions and other pertinent information to visitors.
  • Select travel routes and sites to be visited based on knowledge of specific areas.

The above responsibilities are specific to Tour Guides. More generally, Tour Guides are involved in several broader types of activities:

Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Communicating with People Outside the Organization
Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

What is a Tour Guide salary?

The median salary for a Tour Guide is $29,460, and the average salary is $32,200. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Tour Guide salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Tour Guides earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Tour Guides earn less than $20,430 per year, 25% earn less than $24,200, 75% earn less than $37,730, and 90% earn less than $47,660.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Tour Guides is expected to change by 29.1%, and there should be roughly 9,200 open positions for Tour Guides every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$20,430 - $47,660
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Tour Guides?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Tour Guide are usually higher in their Social and Enterprising interests.

Tour Guides typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Tour Guides typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Tour Guide tend to value Relationships, Support, and Independence.

Most importantly, Tour Guides strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Tour Guides somewhat value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Tour Guides somewhat value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Tour Guides must consistently demonstrate qualities such as self-control, adaptability/flexibility, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Tour Guides, ranked by importance:

Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

What education and training do Tour Guides need?

Tour Guides often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Tour Guides usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Tour Guides

  • 2.6% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 20.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 21.6% completed some college coursework
  • 7.3% earned a Associate's degree
  • 36.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 10.5% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Tour Guides

Tour Guides may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, history and archeology, or communications and media knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Tour Guides might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
History and Archeology
Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

Important Abilities needed by Tour Guides

Tour Guides must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Tour Guides need abilities such as oral expression, oral comprehension, and speech clarity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Tour Guides, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Far Vision
The ability to see details at a distance.

Critical Skills needed by Tour Guides

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Tour Guides frequently use skills like speaking, active listening, and social perceptiveness to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Tour Guides, ranked by their relative importance.

Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.