Neale Melbourne , Melbourne
Published: 22nd September 2016
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Tour Guide Jobs in Australia
As a working holidaymaker, you probably have a passion for travel. So why not turn that passion into a profession (at least temporarily)?
Working as a tour guide offers a fantastic opportunity for 417 and 462 visa holders to not only see the best bits of Australia, but to show them to other people, and to get paid to do it!
Where are most tour guide jobs located?
Tour guide jobs are found anywhere that tourists are found. The centre of Sydney, the middle of the outback, and on the islands and coastlines that make Australia such an alluring destination.
The more touristy the destination, the more tour guide opportunities there’ll be. A place like Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, might only have a population of 1200 people, but there’ll be almost as many tour guide opportunities there as there’ll be in cities of five million like Sydney and Melbourne.
What tour guide jobs are available to working holidaymakers?
Tour guide jobs aren’t limited to simply guiding tourists. There are many different roles to be filled within a tour company, including:
- Tour guide: Whether a city guide, dive guide, trek guide, boat tour guide or Contiki guide, you’ll see a lot of sights, but you’ll also be responsible for ensuring the tourists are safe and happy.
- Assistant tour guide: A common role for backpackers, assistant tour guides help to ensure the tour runs smoothly, and may not need the skills and depth of knowledge that the main guide does.
- Salesperson: Tourism is a competitive industry, so many tour companies hire people to actively sell their services.
- Office worker: A tour company is like any other company - phones need to be answered, accounts need to be balanced, and workers need to be paid - so in-office jobs are available too!
What qualifications are needed?
While the company that employs you will need to be registered as a tour operator, there are no legislative controls in place for the tour guides themselves, and companies create their own requirements. First aid training is a must for tour guides, while job-specific qualifications like a PADI certification may also be required.
What is the pay like?
As many in the industry will tell you, being a tour guide isn’t about the money, it’s about the experience. Spending all day in beauty and putting smiles on people's faces can feel like payment enough. You’ve still got to eat though.
Tour guide pay usually hovers around the minimum wage, although Australia has the highest in the world - around $20 per hour - so this isn’t as bad as it might sound. And while Australia doesn’t really have a tipping culture, tour guides who host international visitors may enjoy a tip for their troubles.
Pros and cons of tour guide jobs
So should you look for tour guide work as a backpacker? Let’s sum up the pros and cons.
- Fun and exciting work
- Plenty of part time and casual opportunities
- May count as specified work for your second/third year visas (if it’s in a remote area)
- Get paid to see Australia’s most popular sights
- There are higher paying jobs
- You’ll be working where others are holidaying and partying
- It can be a fickle industry
Should you be a tour guide as a working holidaymaker? If the pros outweigh the cons, if you’re ready for the responsibility, and if you quite enjoy being in front of a crowd, it’s a fantastic option!