“What makes a good guide is also what makes a good friend: someone whose company you enjoy, who can surprise and delight you, whose advice and comfort you can seek but who knows when to leave you in peace.”

Kate Humble, Judge in the World Guide Awards.
Telegraph, London.   12/11/2011


What skills and personal requirements does a professional tour guide require?

  • Good health and well-being are paramount for tour guides,
  • Maturity – the ability to accept responsibility,
  • Plenty of energy and enthusiasm. The job is very demanding both mentally and physically and can be quite stressful, for the guide is everything to everybody,
  • At all times, patience and a friendly personality in dealing with clients, tour operators and the general public,
  • Group leadership and management qualities to ensure that the itinerary is strictly followed and that all services are correctly provided,
  • An excellent general knowledge of Australia – its history, geography, geology, government structure, judicial system, education, flora and fauna etc.
  • Ability to research information – to know where to get up-to-date information on all things a tourist is likely to ask including such general things as taxation rates, interest rates, house prices, the best restaurants, where to buy the best souvenirs,
  • Confidence and ability to act as a trouble-shooter; to be calm in an emergency and capable of coping with problems that may arise as a result of operational problems, a traffic accident, bushfire, flood and illness, even death,
  • Good interpretation and language skills that will enhance the visitor experience,
  • An awareness and tolerance of religious and cultural sensitivities,
  • The ability to get on with all manner of people – for not all clients are easy to get on with.

“But why, oh why, do the wrong people travel, when the right people stay at home.”  Noel Coward.

  • Good writing skills to maintain reports of daily activities and administrative work,
  • A strong environmental appreciation and the ability to act as a role model in this regard.

To cope with all the above, a guide needs to have
a good sense of humour.



Accredited training is an important component of professional development for tour guides.

Training offers updates on current industry practices and a recognition of competency required by increasing numbers of employers. The following information provides pathways for tour guides to develop their skills and credentials.

Training for tour guides and related careers is available through:

  • Secondary school vocational programs,
  • TAFE and other Registered Training Organisations,
  • Universities,
  • Protected Area Managers,
  • Industry certificates and courses.

Many training providers are making skills and qualifications more accessible through training and assessment using:

  • Workshop formats,
  • Flexible delivery using workbooks and online study,
  • On-the-job training and assessment,
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL),
  • Traineeships.

Enquiries regarding financial assistance for study should be directed to your training provider or local Centrelink office.