Set your own hours and earn some money on the side by working as a local tour guide! Read on to discover how to become one and how much they make.
Do you love bragging about your hometown? Are you an extrovert that gets energized at the thought of being around people every day? If so, then being a local tour guide might be the perfect job for you!
Work From Home as a Local Tour Guide
If you want the flexibility of working from home and setting your own schedule, but you don’t actually like to stay at home, then you perhaps should consider a job as a local tour guide of your hometown.
Depending on where you live, you could earn a nice income just by giving tours. There are so many different kinds of tour guides – from adventure guides to the ones that give historical or ghost tours to culinary guides. You can do some market research around the area to see what works best.
In this guide, I’ll show you everything you need to know about this job so you can decide if this is right for you.
What Does a Tour Guide Do?
There are quite a few different kinds of tour guides, and each one does something different. What a local tour guide does depends entirely on where you live.
I’ll share the most common types of tour guides that you’ll find almost anywhere.
Adventure guides give tours like horseback riding, kayaking, zip-lining, and hiking tours. Anything outdoors like this is grouped under the title adventure guide!
Adventure guides usually work for larger companies where people can go to experience the thrill of nature. This isn’t necessarily a work from home job since you would be an independent contractor.
Ghost Tour Guide
If you live in a historic town or a place with some ghost stories, being a ghost tour guide could be a lot of fun. These tour guides usually give tours at night – when ghost stories feel the creepiest. Plus, you can set your own hours.
Since you will be leading groups of people around town, all you need is the ability to advertise your tours and a head full of spooky local legends.
City Walking Tours
City walking tours typically happen during the day, but they tend to be historical as well. You could work for local historical walking tour companies in your town or set up your own.
There are a lot of other types of tours that really don’t have a category, so I grouped them here. This can include food tours, winery tours, and city biking tours.
What is your local area known for? Are there civil war battlefields? Perhaps you can give tours of those!
Look closer at what is around you and search for local tours of these oddities.
If you live in or near a big city, you could get a job as a bus tour guide. This isn’t a work from home job either. You would work for the bus company away from home, but it could give you flexible working hours.
Step-On Tour Guide
A step-on tour guide literally steps on a bus, gives a tour of a specific area, then steps back off after it is over.
For example, a group of people, like a family reunion, will hire a bus driver to take them to Nashville. The bus driver knows a little something about the music city, but not everything. So the group might also hire a local step-on tour guide once they arrive. Once in Nashville, the step-on guide will share local history and stories about the town, as well as share tips about the best places to eat and entertainment venues!
Step-on guides typically work with charter buses that don’t have their own guides.
How Much Can You Make as a Tour Guide?
How much a tour guide makes depends on what type of tour guide you are, where you live, how many hours you work, and for who you work for.
I will tell you that it might not be much. This job is better suited for someone who is looking for supplemental income. It might not be the best option for someone who needs to support a family.
According to Job Monkey, guides in high-tourist areas could earn around $50-$150 per day. Most entry-level tour guides only earn about $8-$15 per hour.
But, there are experienced tour guides that earn upwards of $60,000 per year. These people often work for tour companies as managers.
Since this is in the same service industry as restaurant workers, tipping is factored into wages. So the hourly wages could be lower, making guides depend on tips.
How to Become a Tour Guide
Now that you know what types of guides there are and how much they make, it’s time to figure out how to become one!
It could be as simple as creating your own company and offering local tours or reaching out to local companies and see if they have any positions. Lots of people start out giving walking city tours and night-time ghost tours.
Or if you want to see if this is the right route for you, can you try using an on-demand app or platform like Tours By Locals, With Locals, or Airbnb Host Experiences.
One thing that will help get started is getting a license. In fact, some places like Washington D.C. require all tour guides to have a license before they are legally allowed to give tours.
Research your state and city’s requirements for tour guides. New York City has a licensing exam for tour guides that they have to pass before they can give tours!
Advertise and Get Hired
After you obtain the required licensing, you are ready to give tours! The hard part will be spreading the word about yourself as a tour guide. I suggest networking with local tourism-focused companies and business owners as well as online marketing. Set up social media pages and interact with travelers that are visiting your town.
One of the best ways to grab a potential client’s attention is to reach out to your friends and family in the area and ask them to spread the word!
It might even be worth it to work for a larger company at first to get some experience and begin making connections with tourists.
Why You Might Want to Be a Tour Guide
There are a lot of reasons for working as a tour guide. You get to leave the house as well as meet and interact with a lot of different types of people. Plus, you can earn a little extra money, which is always nice!
Which one of these reasons to be a tour guide appeals to you the most?
Working With People
If there is one thing that working from home lacks, it’s people. Being a tour guide means you will interact with groups of people every day. This breaks you out of your monotony as no two days are the same.
If you run your own tour guide company, you won’t have to deal with management, and you can set your own schedule. This would give you the freedom to book tours around your schedule. You can book more tours when you need extra money and turn down tours when you don’t have the time or need.
New Experience Every Time
No two tours are alike. You can never predict what the group will be like – which can be a lot of fun for the right person. If you thrive on the unexpected, working as a tour guide would be perfect. Plus, you have to be a quick-thinker!
When things like traffic or weather try to “mess up” the tour, you have the responsibility to help the group enjoy the tour no matter what.
This is a wonderful way to earn a little extra money on the side. Lots of people enjoy being a tour guide as a way to supplement their existing income when they need it most.
As you’ll see next, certain times of year are busier than others. So you can earn extra income and save it up.
When Do Tour Guides Work the Most?
The busy season for tour guides depends on where you live, but typically, May through August is when most people take group vacations.
The warmer seasons are busier for outdoor tours like city walking and adventure guides. But if you are a ghost tour guide, Halloween and fall are higher-volume times.
How Do Tour Guides Learn So Much?
Have you ever taken a tour and wondered how in the world they know so much? Some companies train their tour guides and require that they learn in-depth information about the area. Other times, local tour guides are members of the historical society, and history is their passion.
If you want to be a tour guide, you will need to be an expert in the local area. If you are going to be an adventure guide, you just need to know a lot about safety. Walking and step-on tour guides must also be knowledgable and armed with tons of local stories.
You can learn about your area by spending time with other experienced tour guides and learning from them!
Pick up some local history books from the library and research online. It’s possible to be self-taught, but you’ll also learn a lot more from other tour guides.
Is a Tour Guide Job for You?
There you have it! Everything you need to know about how to be a local tour guide. This overview is meant to help you decide what kind of tour guide works best for you or if this kind of job even interests you!
Whether you work from home as a tour guide, run your own business, or join another company, no two workdays are anything alike. This is a fun way to earn a little extra money and get out of the house.
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Tania Griffis is a freelance writer and blogger who has a background in human resources, hiring, and recruiting. She’s been featured on CNN as well as dozens of other blogs and online publications, putting her journalism degree to good use. She loves using a combination of creativity and business savvy to help businesses succeed, including her own blog Run to Radiance, which details her home and craft adventures. She is also a mama to a beautiful baby girl that keeps both Tania and her husband on their toes.