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Tour Guide

Sector:
Tourism Services

Overview:

Working as a tour guide you’ll be the contact person for tourists during their visit to Ireland – someone whose advice they’ll depend on – and so you will be an ambassador for Ireland and the company you work for.

You’ll be constantly with people, so you have to be very sociable if you plan to be a guide. You also need to be able to recognise tourists’ different cultural backgrounds, ages and interests and respond with the type of information and presenting style that suits them best.

Find out more about working in Tourism

The Workplace:

There are different types of guides and the type you are will dictate your workplace. Site Guiding is where you work at a specific site or visitor attraction.

Generally you‘ll be employed by the site or attraction directly, on a part time basis. You’ll be spending your days talking about the attraction in a confident way, answering any questions that may arise and making it sound interesting for the visitors.

Walking or Cycling Guiding is taking tourists on walking tours around a town like Kilkenny or a city like Dublin, or cycling tours around an area such as the Ring of Kerry, explaining places of historical, social or cultural interest.

City & Environs Guiding – In this case your workplace will be a coach or sometimes a private chauffer-driven car or mini-bus, touring a city and its surrounding area. In one day you might visit Cork City, Cobh Heritage Centre, the Jameson Distillery and Lismore Heritage Town in Co. Waterford. These tours vary in duration but range from half a day to two or three days.

National Tour Guiding - Again, these tours generally take place using a coach, with up to 50 people.

The Career Path:

If you start working as a tour guide at a visitor attraction, you’ll be given a script of the basic information you need to transmit to the visitor and you will be conducting a very similar tour each time.

If you’re guiding walking or cycling tours or coach parties, as well as giving information on lots of different places, you’ll be involved in organising the transport, supplies and equipment and sometimes even accommodation.

This is a sample week-long itinerary that you would have to fully coordinate:

Day 1: collect a group arriving at Dublin airport, transfer to hotel with a mini city tour en-route, coordinate check-in and dinner at the hotel.

Day 2: a full Dublin city tour with visits to St Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College, a pub lunch, returning clients to the hotel for early dinner, greyhound racing in the evening.

Day 3: travel with the group to Killarney via the Rock of Cashel, having lunch en route.

Day 4: the Ring of Kerry tour, observing sheep herding, visiting Muckross House and attending Irish evening of music & entertainment.

Day 5: transfer to Limerick via the Dingle Peninsula, a visit to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park.

Day 6: a full day tour of Connemara, a cruise on Lough Corrib, a visit to Kylemore Abbey and a short Galway city tour en route back to the hotel for dinner.

Day 7: a morning tour to the Cliffs of Moher before transfer to Shannon Airport for return flight.



Site Guides (Visitor Attraction)
€10-15 p/hour
Tour Guides (Walking, Cycling, Coach Tours)
€135+ p/day

How to Get Started:

To be a successful guide you need to be very good at organising, at speaking to groups of people and at dealing with the unexpected. You’ll need a strong interest in the history and geography, heritage and culture of Ireland, including Northern Ireland. You’ll need to also learn about the Irish economy – cost of living, average salaries, house prices, income tax, industry etc. – and not all of this will be taught in a course, so you’ll have to have a genuine interest in guiding to do a lot of extra reading and research yourself. Ideally you’ll be fluent in another language apart from Irish or English. 

There are a number of courses available throughout the country which give you a tour guide qualification and allow you to apply for the Fáilte Ireland Tourist Guide Badge. To get this badge you must complete six, four day tours which will be evaluated by an employer. Once you have the badge you can apply for membership to the association of approved tour guides in Ireland which will be a help when looking for work as a guide.

The Online National Training Programme runs for 16 weeks and includes some weekends. The programme is certified by FETAC.

The City & Environs Training Programme runs for 14 weeks on one evening a week and some weekends. The programme is certified by Fáilte Ireland.

Foundation Level Training Programme is run over 5 weekends and certified by Fáilte Ireland.

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