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Career and Education Opportunities for Tour Guides in Chicago, Illinois

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for tour guides in the Chicago, Illinois area. About 1,040 people are currently employed as tour guides in Illinois. By 2016, this is expected to grow 20% to about 1,240 people employed. This is better than the national trend for tour guides, which sees this job pool growing by about 11.7% over the next eight years. In general, tour guides escort individuals or groups on sightseeing tours or through places of interest, such as industrial establishments, public buildings, and art galleries.

Income for tour guides is about $10 per hour or $20,900 per year on average in Illinois. Nationally, their income is about $11 per hour or $23,270 per year. Earnings for tour guides are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Travel in Illinois and not quite as good as general Travel category earnings nationally.

There are 180 schools of higher education in the Chicago area, including four within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree to start your career as a tour guide. Given that the most common education level for tour guides is some college courses, you can expect to spend a short time training to become a tour guide if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Tour Guide

Tour Guide video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, tour guides escort individuals or groups on sightseeing tours or through places of interest, such as industrial establishments, public buildings, and art galleries.

Tour guides describe tour points of interest to group members, and respond to questions. Finally, tour guides furnish directions and other pertinent data to visitors.

Every day, tour guides are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for tour guides to conduct educational activities for school children. They are often called upon to monitor visitors' efforts to insure adherence to establishment or tour regulations and safety practices. They also distribute brochures, show audiovisual presentations, and explain establishment processes and operations at tour sites. They are sometimes expected to escort individuals or groups on cruises or through places of interest such as industrial establishments and art galleries. Somewhat less frequently, tour guides are also expected to drive motor vehicles to transport visitors to establishments and tour site locations.

Tour guides sometimes are asked to decide on travel routes and sites to be visited on the basis of knowledge of specific areas. They also have to be able to furnish for physical safety of groups, performing such activities as providing first aid and directing emergency evacuations and research environmental conditions and patrons' skill and ability levels so as to plan expeditions and commentary that are appropriate. And finally, they sometimes have to furnish for physical safety of groups, performing such activities as providing first aid and directing emergency evacuations.

Like many other jobs, tour guides must believe in cooperation and coordination and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Transportation Attendant. Provide services to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers aboard ships, buses, or within the station or terminal. Perform duties, such as greeting passengers, explaining the use of safety equipment, serving meals or beverages, or answering questions related to travel.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Tour Guide Training

Northwestern College-Southwestern Campus - Bridgeview, IL

Northwestern College-Southwestern Campus, 7725 South Harlem Avenue, Bridgeview, IL 60455. Northwestern College-Southwestern Campus is a small college located in Bridgeview, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 995 students and an admission rate of 90%. Northwestern College-Southwestern Campus has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Tourism and Travel Services Management.

College of DuPage - Glen Ellyn, IL

College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-6599. College of DuPage is a large college located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,668 students. College of DuPage has an associate's degree program in Tourism and Travel Services Management which graduated one student in 2008.

Moraine Valley Community College - Palos Hills, IL

Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills, IL 60465-0937. Moraine Valley Community College is a large college located in Palos Hills, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 17,477 students. Moraine Valley Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Tourism and Travel Services Management which graduated eleven and nine students respectively in 2008.

Robert Morris College - Chicago, IL

Robert Morris College, 401 S State Street, Chicago, IL 60605. Robert Morris College is a small college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,555 students and an admission rate of 79%. Robert Morris College has an associate's degree program in Tourism and Travel Services Management.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.