4. Tour Jobs
The nitty-gritty: Imagine steering a group of curious tourists around historical monuments in Washington, D.C., on a sunny, cherry blossom-bright day in April. That's particularly true if you're a history buff and have a knack for storytelling and showmanship. You need to have a mind for remembering dates and historical facts. You also must interact easily with everyone — from excitable school kids on a field trip to seniors hailing from all over the globe. Tour guide jobs pop up in various places that attract visitors. You might lead visitors through points of historical or local interest, pretzel factories, wineries, breweries and more, doling out tidbits of information in a narrative format. The downside is that it can be hard on the feet and the vocal cords, and the patter can become stifling rote. Your job is to dig down for a fresh and energetic performance each round. Many of these jobs are walking tours, although you may land one where you drive a vehicle, or go with a group on a park shuttle or monorail system. Depending on the assignment, you might have to stand up to eight hours per day or walk and climb stairs. Plus, you'll need to be sharp-eyed to visually monitor guests to ensure compliance with security and safety rules. Less demanding openings, such as ticket-takers, program sellers or cashiers, are also generally available.
The hours: Varying schedules including days, evenings and weekends. It might be difficult to receive time off around peak tourist times, such as holidays and school vacations.
Median pay range: Hourly wage: $7.72 to $18.87.
Qualifications: Tour guides often receive on-the-job training from employers. The academic background required for a position varies according to the venue. Best skill: The ability to hang on to historical facts, dates and anecdotes and relate that information to visitors in a compelling way. Some cities require licensing, and applicants may have to pass a written exam covering factual knowledge of specific locations and city history. Some community colleges offer short-term courses in tour and travel-related occupations. Certified Tour Professional (CTP) certification is offered through the National Tour Association.
Your hidden gem: Knowing where George Washington really slept.