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Guiding spirit

education Updated: Jan 04, 2012 11:50 IST

The lowdown
A tour guide provides assistance, information and cultural, historical and contemporary interpretation to travellers. These may be individual clients or from educational establishments, at religious and historical sites, museums, and at other popular tourist sites. They can work in a city, travel all over the country and sometimes even take clients to places around the globe. As a tourist guide, you will get an opportunity to meet diverse people speaking different tongues from different corners of the world. It is a glamorous profession. You travel a lot, stay in big hotels, and enjoy the company of people from diverse backgrounds. It’s enriching too. You have to be well read as your knowledge gets tested every time you are at work

8am: Meet client(s) and discuss the day’s plan
9am: Leave for sightseeing trip
11am: Visit a monument and answer clients’ queries
2pm: Lunch, generally with the client
3pm: Leave for other destination(s)
4pm: Explain the history and cultural importance of the place while responding to a clients’ queries (if any)
6pm: The tour continues till late in the evening
9pm: Drop client back to hotel and ensure he is comfortable
9.30pm: Go home

The payoff
A tourist guide earns well throughout a year. S/he can start with packages upwards of Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000 a month. There are no fixed salaries but sometimes one can get generous tips and commissions. One can, however, never be too sure of the amount one can earn. You can choose to work with a travel agency or operate on your own

* Fluency in English along with any other foreign language such as French, German, Russian, Chinese or Japanese
* Good communication skills. Your interaction with the tourists should make the client curious about the place
* Ability to work under pressure
* Be agile. Demonstrate presence of mind
* A pleasant personality will work to your advantage

Getting there
After completing Class 12 in any discipline, you should pursue graduation from a recognised university (three-year) preferably in tourism/ hospitality or any other discipline such as history, geography etc from a recognised university/ institute or a diploma in archaeology from any other recognised institution/university.

To become an approved guide, you have to pass entrance exams. Please check the ministry of tourism’s website and

Institutes and URLs
* Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, Gwalior
* Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
* Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad
* Alliance Francaise (for French)
* Max Mueller Bhavan (for German)

Pros and cons
* You get to meet people from different countries and cultures
* Work is quite uncertain and depends on the volatile tourism industry
* You get to travel to popular global tourist destinations

It is a wonderful profession that allows you to have fun while at work. Growing and learning opportunities are immense Vishakha Pathak, a travel consultant with a travel agency based in Delhi