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A tour guide accompanies groups or individuals to points of interest, explaining the history, culture and features of the area.The guide also makes sure the group stays safe and returns home together. In case of emergency, the guide takes charge and helps with first aid or evacuation. The income of tour guides depends upon the location and type of employer.
Average and Range of Salaries for Tour Guides
According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual income of a tour guide in 2009 came to $25,990 for full-time work. On an hourly basis, this came to $12.50 per hour. The lowest-earning ten percent among tour guides earned less than $16,060 annually. The highest-earning ten percent received more than $39,240 each year.There were 31,630 tour guides working in the United States at that time.
Employment and Wages by Industry
The largest employer for tour guides, museums and historical sites, had 11,670 tour guides in 2009, according to the BLS. These guides received an average annual income of $23,920. Travel services had 4,850 tour guides, who made an annual average or $28,230. Amusement and recreation industries had 3,840 guides averaging $25,080 per year, and land sightseeing companies had 1,620 tour guides, who made an average of $27,710 per year. The federal executive branch, with 1,430 tour guides, paid the highest salary among these employers, an average of $30,150 annually.
Highest-Paying Industries for Tour Guides
Several industries paid tour guides more than $32,000 a year, but they had fewer than 500 guides each. Hospitals paid tour guides an average of $39,600 per year, while facilities support services paid them $35,740 on average. Other support services and instructional institutions paid an average of more than $33,000 per year to tour guides. State governments paid tour guides more than $32,670 per year on average also.
Highest-Paying States and District for Tour Guides
The District of Columbia paid tour guides more on average than any of the states, an annual income of $32,080. New York was the highest-paying state, with an average annual pay of $31,260. Oregon, Alaska and Florida each paid tour guides an average annual income of more than $30,000 per year. Among these areas, New York had the largest number of tour guides, a total of 2,400.
Education and Qualifications
Most tour guides learn their work in post-secondary schools or on the job. According to O-Net, about 40 percent have some college education.Tour guides need a strong ability to communicate with others, patience and a desire to help people. According to the World Federation of Tourist Guides, only a few cities and sites in the United States require licensing for tour guides, including New Orleans, LA, Washington, D.C. and New York City. Other areas requiring licensing are Vicksburg Battlefield, MS, Gettysburg Battlefield, PA and Savannah, GA.