Make sure you have the necessary skills and qualifications to become a registered tourist guide in Ireland.
If you are interested in working in Ireland and have a passion for the country’s history, heritage and culture, then you may be considering a career in tour guiding.
There are various courses available throughout Ireland that can prepare you for tour guiding.
- Tourism-based degrees at higher and further education institutions
- Specialised training programmes certified by Fáilte Ireland and FETAC (Further Education and Training Awards Council).
Tourist guides can work in various roles. Some work on specific sites or attractions, some do half- or full-day city tours and others do regional or country-wide tours that last several days.
Being a tourist guide involves having a real interest in, and passion for, learning about Ireland, as you must continue to learn about Ireland throughout your career.
Guiding is not just about telling stories; you need to know about day-to-day living in Ireland as well as the geography, dates, history and culture. Not all of this will be taught to you; you must spend time independently learning everything possible in order to give a knowledgeable and interesting tour.
Having a connection with Irish people and experience living there is a plus, so studying in Ireland will be great preparation.
You must also be good at organising and have skills in customer service and talking to people. Being fluent in a language other than English is also a great asset and may help you get more work.
The tourist guide industry in Ireland is not yet regulated, but having training and the necessary qualifications means you will find it easier to find work and can be certified and registered by a professional body, giving you an advantage over unqualified guides.
Training and Association Membership
When you have the necessary qualifications, you can apply for the Failte Ireland Tourist Guide Badge, for which you must complete six, four-day tours evaluated by an employer.
Once you have this badge, you will be able to apply for membership to AATGI – The Association of Approved Tourist Guides of Ireland.
AATGI is the professional body representing tourist guides across Ireland and lobbying for better working environments for them. It was founded in 1977 and currently has nearly 250 members. It is a member of the Federation of European Tourist Guide Associations and can assist members with
- Job seeking
- Guiding rates
- And ongoing training such as first aid.
AATGI advises that you must have a love for the business to be a successful tourist guide; the work is seasonal, meaning it cannot bring a year-round salary unless you work elsewhere during the winter. For this reason, many tourist guides have other jobs such as teaching.
They also warn students to be aware of recruiting companies who offer tourist guide training. Some of these will provide the minimum training and then do not allow students to work for other companies, tying them down to one place.
Content provided by AATGI – The Association of Approved Tourist Guides of Ireland (2011)