If you are thinking of training as a Blue Badge Guide . . . Read this first!
Stamina and good health are essential. The work of the guide is very demanding. Hours can be long, starting say with the arrival of the first aircraft at Heathrow and ending with theatres and pubs at night, with guided commentary throughout the day.
It is absolutely essential to enjoy working with people. Understanding the stresses and strains of the traveller - jet lag, lack of sleep, sickness, hotel and transport problems, loss of valuables/luggage - is all part of the work. The guide may be the only direct human contact.
Competition is considerable. Most guides are freelance. There are approximately 1000 guides on the London register, about half of whom are fully available. This particularly applies to guides who work in English only.
The annual income of Blue Badge Guides is precarious. The work is seasonal, with long quiet periods in the winter, and fluctuates with world economics and politics. Furthermore such items as accident & sickness insurance, personal pension as well as National Insurance and Income Tax must be taken into account.
The Blue Badge guide training course covers a lot of fascinating knowledge. However it extends beyond the acquisition of knowledge to the presentation and delivery of that knowledge.
Blue Badge Tourist Guides are trained under the auspices of the Institute of Tourist Guiding, (in Scotland it is the Scottish Tourist Guides Association) often in conjunction with Universities or Colleges of Further Education. Most training courses for guides last at least two academic terms and some, eg London, may be up to 2 years. A wide spectrum of academic, specialist and practical training is covered as well as a core curriculum of the history, architecture and social development of the country. For further information about such courses in your area, except London, the Heart of England and Scotland, you should apply to the Institute of Tourist Guiding.