If you love working with people and you have an interest in a particular tourist destination, you may want to know if you need a hospitality degree to get a job as a tour guide. While it’s not necessary to have a college degree for most tour guide positions, a bachelor’s degree in hospitality can give you more opportunities in this field, including the chance to work as a tour director or tourism manager. This college major is a management degree that prepares you to work in the hotel, restaurant and tourism industry as a manager, and with this level of education, you can stand out from the other applicants competing for tour guide jobs.

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The Difference Between a Tour Guide and a Tour Director

In general, if you’re planning to work domestically as a guide for local adult and student tours, you don’t need a degree, but if you want to work abroad in a major tourist destination, you usually need a degree in a field that relates to the location you’ll be working in. If you want to work in South America as a guide for tours through ancient ruins, you will need to be an expert on ancient American civilizations as well as the local history of the region. You will be asked countless questions about the sites you’re presenting to the tour group, and it will be your job to know the answers to all these questions. Being a tour guide is a little like being a teacher in this way, and you may feel like a college professor while on the job.

For positions that require a college education, you will have more responsibilities than for jobs that hire applicants without a degree, and there is a difference between being a tour guide and being a tour director. A director handles the logistics of traveling through a location with a tour group and managing the tour. When you have this job, you’re the one who must handle any issues that come up and make sure everyone is safe and accounted for because there is no one in charge of you while on the tour. You will have a boss who works for the tour company, but this person most likely has other responsibilities such as booking tours, locating resources, handling payroll and similar duties.

Tourism Industry Salaries

It’s nice to have this level of autonomy in your job, but it comes with some stress, especially in less developed places near ancient ruins and in third-world countries. The salary for a tour guide or tour director varies widely, and depending on your position, you could earn between $30,000 and $70,000 per year. As you would expect, positions that require a degree pay more money and come with more responsibility, and if you travel to a foreign tourist destination to work, you may also be given room and board by the company you work for. Tour guide jobs are usually held by young people and college students and don’t typically provide retirement benefits or opportunities for advancement.

The tourism and hospitality industries are always dependable sources of income, and anyone who loves traveling and learning about famous places will surely consider tour directing a dream job. If you’re thinking of getting a hospitality degree, consider working as a tour guide for a while.