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  • Guide to Guiding
Guiding level 2
Guiding level 3
Guiding level 4
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Guides come from widely varying backgrounds, including such diverse professions as actors, policemen, taxi drivers, barristers, teachers, diplomats. You do not need to be academic or a history expert to be successful, but you will need enthusiasm and an interest in communicating and interpreting Britain to visitors of all ages, backgrounds and cultures.

You will need to be:

  • a good communicator, interested in people, and in interpreting Britain to them.
  • confident in standing up in front of a group of people, but not necessarily an extrovert.
  • fit - as you may be on your feet, responsible for as many as 50 people for up to 10 hours at a stretch.
  • flexible, adaptable and able to think quickly.

If you speak any other languages fluently and with a wide relevant vocabulary, you will improve your chances of getting on an Institute accredited course, and work thereafter. Before being qualified to guide in a language other than your mother tongue you will have to pass an oral exam. If English is not your mother tongue, and you want to guide in English you will have to pass an English oral exam. See Languages

The Institute's qualifications correspond to National Educational Levels 2, 3 and 4, each relating to a specific area or site as follows:

  • Level 2 covers commentary/presentation on one fixed route, which could be in a gallery, cathedral or stately home, or perhaps an open-top bus.
  • Level 3 introduces route flexibility and the ability to work in two contrasting environments such as a walk and on a site.
  • Level 4 (Blue Badge) requires flexibility of route and of environment (site, walk and moving vehicle), as well as a wider geographical area, and tour planning and management skills.

Training Courses
The Institute accredits courses run by external colleges and training providers, provides or accredits examinations and makes awards to successful candidates, including the internationally recognised Blue Badge. The Institute is not a training provider and does not run courses.

Few courses run regularly apart from the London Level 4 (Blue Badge) course, which has taken place annually for over 50 years. Outside London, courses are run when there is a demand for guides in a particular area, usually by local and regional tourist bodies or colleges and institutions. Owners of sites and visitor attractions provide their own training for in-house guides.

Check to make sure that the course you are planning to do has been accredited by the Institute. See Training

On successful completion of your course and examinations you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification and be eligible to apply to join the Institute.

Guiding is a very stimulating profession. It is never dull or repetitive. You are showing people beautiful and interesting places and sights. You are adding immense value to visitors' experience, and are thus an unofficial ambassador for Britain. It is said….. 'a good guide makes all the difference!'


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