In order for you to make an informed decision we are providing the answers to those questions we receive most frequently.

Click on the question and you will be taken to the answer below:

Q: Can you tell me some of the history of your school?

A: The International Guide Academy started in 1973 and conducted courses in Australia, Hong Kong, and London. Then IGA moved to the United States in 1988 and started in Mexico in 2007. We were selected by the Jamaican Tourism Board to review their training programs and train their Tour Guides, began a successful program training and certifying Tour Directors while at sea in 2009 and added a program in Canada in July 2010 that filled to capacity.

Q. If I asked you to tell me just one thing about IGA what would it be?

A. YOU are the most important person to us. It is our mission to serve our graduates as the premier resource to help them achieve their personal and professional goals in this industry.

Q: What industry organizations/asociations are aware of your school?

A: The World Tourism Organization (Madrid, Spain), the National Tour Association (Lexington, KY), the University of Breda (Breda, The Netherlands), the International Association of Tour Directors & Guides, to name some of them. As important as these organizations are in recognizing us, even more important is the recognition by the companies that hire those that earn their certification with our school.

Q: Can you provide me with the names of some of the companies that hire your grads?

A: Now in our 47th year of business, we have worked with hundreds of Tour Operators, Destination Management Companies, Cruise lines, Sightseeing companies, etc. To name just a few of them: Globus family of brands, Tauck World Discovery, Mayflower, Collette Vacations, Road Scholar, Worldstrides, Trafalgar Tours, Saga Holidays, Maritz Travel, Smithsonian Student Travel, Adventures by Disney, Friendly Planet Travel, Kaleidoscope, MIR Corporation, Holland America Lines, Caravan, Contiki Holidays, Story Land & Sea, EF Explore America, Trek America, Grand Circle Travel, Holiday Vacations, A Private Guide, CE Tours, Premier Alaska, Vantage Deluxe World Travel, Pacific Delight Travel, AFC Vacations, JetSave, The Arrangers, Apple Vacations, Uniworld, C&G Tours, Go West Tours, Brennan Vacations, Maupintour, NCL, Holland America Cruise Lines, Royal Celebrity Tours, Great Events, GrayLine, Abercrombie and Kent, WorldStrides, and many more.

Q: Do you provide references from former students before I register?

A: Definitely. We provide them before you enroll, that way you can make an informed decision. Our graduate page includes hundreds of comments about, and from, our graduates. If you want email addresses of graduates, just ask us.

Q: What is the difference between a Tour Director and a Tour Guide? You offer both certifications independently of each other. Why and which one is best for me?

A: First the “why”. It is important to note that based on the current hospitality industry standards, the professions of Tour Director and Tour Guide require different training, knowledge and certifications.

A Tour Director is also called a Tour Manager and, in some parts of the world, an Escort or Courier. Tour Operators hire Tour Managers (or Tour Directors) whose responsibilities are varied and comprehensive. Tour Directors travel with the group that has been organized by the Tour Operator. They stay at the same hotels, eat the same meals, go on the optional excursions, etc. They are responsible for the daily activities and to insure that what the passengers have paid for happens in a manner that is acceptable to the passengers and that the passengers have the “vacation of a lifetime.” The International Tour Director program covers both domestic and international tours. If you want to be a Tour Director, whether working in the USA or other countries, that is the course to take. This is what 95% of our students take.

A Tour Guide provides local expertise and does walking tours, step-on motorcoach narration in their city, meets and greets at an airport, work at seminars and conventions, etc. They are hired by Destination Management Companies. Another way of looking at it is that Tour Guides are rarely away from home at night while Tour Directors travel with the groups and are away from home.

Q: Why your school?

A: We invite you to compare and not just save money, but select the best. When comparing IGA to any other school in the world consider this:

  1. IGA has been in business since 1973, 46 years’ of experience and the programs have been held on 4 continents as well as at sea.
  2. Our curriculum provides a strong education and completion of your certification makes you tour ready enhances your employability.
  3. Our class size is never greater than 24 students, which allows for individual attention both during the program and, as important, after the program.
  4. No student left behind. We provide free lifetime placement assistance to all of our graduates. You do not have to pay to be supported after your certification. No meetings to attend, no annual symposiums that cost you airfare, hotel, meals and a charge to be there, etc.
  5. The best instructors in the world, all graduates of our programs, all with many years of experience, all with international experiences, and all currently working in the Travel and Tourism industry.
  6. The best overall cost in tuition, registration and housing.
  7. We will give you references before enrolling.
  8. The choice of multiple international locations for your training including the 9th annual “certification at sea” aboard the Norwegian Dawn in October 2019.
  9. At IGA students find the enrichment, relevant learning and personal attention they desire. IGA offers the best education value in the world. It’s more than just affordable tuition and program costs, the value comes from the student support process before, during, and after the certification program. The practical applications and experiences gained in the classroom and out of classroom assignments are what leads to your best possible employment opportunity.
  10. If you are in the area of one of our on-going programs, you can sit through one of the sessions at no cost and speak to the instructors and current students in the class. This is at no charge and just one of the special ways we want to help you make an informed decision.
  11. The company president will speak with you. No one filters your calls, the president answers the phone personally when in the office: 303.780.0131.

Q: What are the demographics of your students?

A: The students who attend one of the International Guide Academy programs come from all areas and all walks of life. The youngest was 18 and the oldest were in their seventies. Age is not a barrier nor is gender, beliefs, lifestyle, etc. Some students have lived in the USA while others have been residents of all the continents except Antarctica. In the last 36 months the students have been residents of Canada, USA, Mexico, Brasil, England, France, Ireland, Australia, Argentina, the Netherlands, Spain, Romania, Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, Ghana, Asia and many other places. Some were new to “career” education and seeking their certification while others had master’s or doctoral degrees. Some of the IGA students were already established professionals in the Travel and Tourism industry who wanted to expand their knowledge in their current positions while others were pursuing knowledge in a new field looking to change careers. Our programs are open to all peoples of the world.

Q: It sounds like a great job. What are the responsibilities?

A: As a Tour Director, you are essentially on-duty 24 hours a day. Your day begins with your personal preparation, then moves to supervising the handling of the baggage, counting passenger, narrating during the day, scheduling the motorcoach stops for breaks, lunch, picture stops, sight-seeing, etc. At the end of the day you handle the check-in at the hotel, do “lobby duty” and any associated paperwork for the day. You may also spend part of the evening re-confirming the events coming up in the next few days and/or spend part of the evening at a group dinner, theatre, optional excursion, etc. You can work as many of our graduates do for cruise lines as well as tours on motorcoaches.

As a Tour Guide, you may conduct local city tours either walking with groups or narrating on a motorcoach. These tours can be 1/2 day or full day tours. Local Destination Management Companies (DMCs) will hire you to perform “meet and greets” at airports and hotel lobbies, you can work at conventions with registration, information booths and dine-arounds. These are just a few of the assignments you can receive as a Tour Guide.

Q: There is a lot more to the job than meets the eye. What does the Tour Operator expect from me?

A: Expectations are high. You will be expected to handle passenger movement from one place to another whether that is by motorcoach, ship, train, airplane, etc. It may mean crossing country borders. During the day you will be expected to do some narration on the culture, history, geography, demographics, food, language, etc. You will be required to transit smoothly from one hotel to another. Tour Operators may expect you to “sell” their optional excursions. They will look to you to be professional, courteous, and to get everything done in a timely and accurate manner and, of course, to submit all the required paperwork at the end of the tour.

Q: OK, I am convinced that I need some training to get the job done properly. What will I learn at your school?

A: In our certification program, the International Guide Academy educates and trains you on everything that can happen to you while on tour. We start with the basic terminology and cover all the paperwork. We teach you about hotel arrivals and departures, how to research and prepare your commentary, when to give the commentary, how to handle passport control, international and domestic airline travel including re-routes and forced overnights, interacting with suppliers of services along the way, selling and participation in optional excursions, lobby duty, leisure days, how to handle the money and the accounting of it, and expense sheets. Also we train on what to do in emergencies such as a passenger illness or death as well as what to do if a passenger is missing, tour debriefing, baggage handling and control, “tour welcome” presentation, cultural practices, city tours, motorcoach travel and teamwork with the motorcoach driver. We also spend time on group psychology and individual behavior of your passengers. Our curriculum is kept up to date and in the past few years we have added “technology on the road”, “being green on tour” and “handling of sexual harassment” and, of course, much more…..

Q: What is your placement support?

A: We offer free lifetime job placement assistance. When you earn your certification you receive a detailed list of approximately 200 Tour Operators who have opted in to receive your resumes and cover letters. It is not just a list of companies but includes who to contact, their phone, fax, email, web site and in many cases a short description of what they are looking for. We direct our grads to over 500+ Tour Operators via a web site where they can research companies specific to their interests. We also provide a section in our “Getting Hired” book with contact information on cruise lines.

Our programs are meant to provide the students with a greater understanding of the responsibilities of a Tour Director and/or Tour Guide. With class instruction, practical exercises and problem solving, motorcoach trips, etc. the students get a solid base of performance skills. Getting this education shows the Tour Operators that you are sincerely interested in a career as a Tour Director and that you have invested your time and money in gaining those skills. This helps to enhance your candidacy for open positions. Our lifetime placement assistance is truly free for all of our graduates. There are no additional costs, no job symposiums to attend, you receive personalized individual cover letter and resume direction specific to your companies of interest and assistance, newsletters from us, job opening announcements, etc.

We are very supportive of the International Association of Tour Directors and Guides (IATDG) and have helped in their past two annual conferences. Hundreds of graduates from IGA have attended these past conferences where industry speakers present, Tour Operators interview and hire, industry networking takes place and educational topics are taught. In 2018, the conference was held in Las Vegas with approximately 400 attendees. Both the IGA CEO and the President attended and were speakers and panel members. Additionally, four of the IGA instructors were also in attendance. The 2019 conference will be held in Orlando.

Q: What about getting hired?

A: As part of the certification program we cover networking, resume preparation, cover letters, phone interviews, follow-up, etc. You get our help in review of your cover letters and resumes. When we become aware of changes, you are kept advised of these changes to the “hiring list” and we provide you with input when companies contact us looking for Tour Managers/Tour Directors from among our graduates. The most important ingredient in getting hired is you. An effort on your part in cover letters and resume preparation is needed. The hiring list we provide is a starting point. Our graduates are encouraged to contact Tour Operators that they identify and not just the ones we include.

Q: Does your company guarantee employment/placement?

A: We do have free lifetime job placement assistance and the best support in the industry. There are too many variables to guarantee employment. We supply direction, suggestions, reviews, etc. You are responsible to prepare your cover letters and resumes, research the companies, individualize your letters, follow-up, etc. We cannot know how you will interview but do provide an excellent basis for you to answer the questions in your interviews. Each student brings with them various backgrounds such as education level, travel experiences, needs and wants, interests, availability during a given year, etc. All of these things are factors in your getting hired. Changing industry needs and passenger requirements can change throughout the years. So also does the economy and safety. With this in mind, those graduates who continue to expand their knowledge and skills in the field of Travel and Tourism enhance their employment opportunities. So does your availability to accept assignments, i.e., if you limit your availability to only one or two months a year, then your desirability as a Tour Director candidate for a company is not as strong as someone who is available year round. With so many variables and the different needs of specific Tour Operators, our graduates need to be reactive to the changing requirements. We can say that your certification as a Tour Director or Tour Guide from our school does carry the best weight with the Tour Operators.

Q: I see that your school and programs are approved and regulated by an educational board. What does this mean to me as a prospective student at your school?

A: It means a lot to you. The Board examines a school’s performance in a number of areas. For our school this includes: the standard we have set for the level of required student achievement, our course curriculums, the caliber and background of our instructors, the services we provide and our academic support for students as well as our free lifetime placement assistance. In short, it tells you as a prospective student, that our school has met a very high level of educational standards. This is not just a cursory review. We are reviewed periodically and each time must appear before a panel and answer any questions they have as well as providing proof of being bonded and our financial records. This gives you the peace of mind that we aren’t just a business calling ourselves a school.

Q: Since the founding of the International Guide Academy in 1973, what about your mission statement has changed over the years?

A: First, I would like to say what has not changed and that is that our number one goal is still to insure every student has the very best educational experience possible and job placement support after their certification. We continue to have a strong code of ethics, honest representation, knowledge of the industry, a superb educational system, lifetime free placement assistance, and our company commitment to consistent integrity that we have, for 46 years, made our mark in this industry. Where we have changed is our class text books are constantly updated to include the most current information, we have gone from a one person operation to now having almost 20 qualified instructors, we have international locations where the programs are available to students and over the years have earned the reputation as the most trusted company in this field of training, certifying and placement of Tour Directors and Tour Guides.

Q: Any additional reasons to choose your school?

A: For starters, The International Guide Academy is the only school providing this training that is truly international, giving you a choice of training locations. The school currently has many training locations for you to choose from: Denver, Colorado USA and Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA; Seattle, WA; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Cuernavaca, Mexico; Beijing, China; and aboard one of the Norwegian Cruise Lines cruise ships. All of these locations are sophisticated cities and your class activities are scheduled to allow you time to participate in the local culture and enjoy the complexity of the city you are in. If you choose to earn your certification aboard a ship, the time in port is free for you to enjoy the countries visited.

IGA has been in business since 1973. We came to the USA in 1988 after having programs originally in Australia, then Hong Kong, and then London. A very important factor for you is class size and IGA limits the classes to a manageable number, usually 20 or less, never more than 24. We hold your International Tour Director Certification Program in a conference center or onboard a cruise ship at sea. It sets a proper learning and study environment for you as a student. Our Tour Guide Certification Program is held in Denver at the same conference center as the Tour Director program. Local hotels and motels offer discounted private rooms (one to a room). You do not have to share. Some are in the neighborhood of $85.00 per night for a private room with kitchenette and within a mile of the Conference Center. Most students in all of our programs (except the cruise) do stay at the same hotel which helps in your study assignments and networking. Arrangements can be made to share a room with another student in all of the locations your programs are offered.

No student left behind. We have free lifetime placement assistance.
The cost of your certification program is very well priced and allows you to get back your tuition investment usually with your first 8-10 day tour assignment.

Q: What support do you give to your graduates after their certification?

A: We provide current employment information and industry information to all of our graduates via our email newsletter. We, as mentioned, have free lifetime placement assistance whether you graduated last year or 40 years ago. We have, since 1997, allowed our graduates to come back and sit through on-going sessions at no cost to them. Occasionally, we do have to limit the number of graduates and sessions attended based on space availability. We have also, for more than 16 years, allowed graduates the opportunity to be re-certified. This means you can come and take the entire program again, get all the new material, participate fully in all sessions, and do this at a greatly reduced tuition.

Q: Who are your instructors? What are their qualifications?

A: With a staff of over 15 instructors we do put the best in front of you each and every time. In order to be an instructor at the school they must first have successfully taken the course and graduated. Then, they must have been employed in the industry as a Tour Director and/or Tour Guide for 5 or more years (our average instructor has more than 20 years). Recently, we made a change to the 5 or more year requirement and will consider a graduate more recently earning their certification and having an earned reputation in the industry. This will provide an additional viewpoint to the students during the program to allow them to interact with a “newer” graduate. With rare exception they will have had international experience and finally they must be working in the industry in the year they are teaching. This way they can instruct with the latest technologies, latest company experiences, and are up-to-date on passenger needs, etc. Click here to see a video on this topic.

Q: Can I get college credit for the program?

A: We are accredited and approved and regulated by the Division of Private Occupational Schools, Department of Higher Education. We are not the approving body on credits accepted by your higher level of education institution. It is your responsibility to contact your college/university and obtain the necessary paperwork. It is to be completed by your college/university and yourself and submitted to us. Then we will fill out our part and return it to your institution. After their review of course content, etc. they will make the determination if the program will apply as credits within their institution. When your college/university accepts our course for credit, they usually determine it is equivalent to 4 to 5 college credits.

Q: How about scholarships and financial assistance?

A: IGA is currently not offering financial assistance. We do offer all National Tourism Foundation state winners of the NTF annual programs a reduced tuition.

Some of our students have had their tuition paid in full by their local state Work Force Program, by their company’s tuition refund program, by companies’ retirement assistance programs, Pathways, The Alliance for Employee Growth and Development, etc.

Others have contacted and applied for scholarship assistance through USA Funds, the National Tourism Foundation and the National Tour Association (NTA) (Lexington, KY), the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), The Foundation Center (Washington, DC), the American Bus Association (ABA), the Institute of International Education (New York City), the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) which is partnered with Tourism Cares for Tomorrow, ASTA Scholarship Foundation (American Society of Travel Agents, Washington, DC) and others.

Q: I have traveled a lot and put my own groups together. Why would a Tour Operator hire one of your graduates instead of me?

A: Tour Operators know the high standard of performance, level of learning, and strong ethics that each of our graduates must have. It shows the Tour Operator that the candidate for the position of Tour Manager/Tour Director has been willing to spend their time and money in order to become certified and graduate with a level of knowledge and performance that allows them to actively and professionally do the job. Your background and experiences plus the certification will make you a strong candidate with the Tour Operators. Many hiring companies look first for the certification and then prior travel experience.

Q: What does your program include in the way of learning and can I do it "long distance"?

A: We do not offer long distance training. It is impossible to learn all the hands-on training we provide from just a book or webpage. Our programs all include the student “public speaking”, role playing, and two motorcoach training sessions are held in the International Tour Director Program, in class “case problems” are worked on individually and in small groups.

In order to pass the program and be certified each student must demonstrate strong ethics, a commitment to the Travel and Tourism industry, complete a research assignment, prepare and narrate a portion of a route while on the motorcoach, successfully role play, successfully research and present a “client welcome” that is international in scope, pass a written examination, and show the qualities of a Tour Director.

It is demanding and intensive, but for those that complete the certification program, the rewards are great.

Q: Can I fail the program and, if so, what happens?

A: Yes, you can retake the entire program at no tuition cost. We do not give you a certification just for showing up and attending class. Not everyone graduates with an “A”. We are a real school, not a business calling itself a school. It is possible to fail the program and not receive your certification. You need to earn the certification, and the hiring companies know this, which is why they are pleased with graduates of our program. You need to demonstrate and pass the certification process in all measurable areas of the program. These include research and presentation skills measured by your completing the research assignments including: a research test and oral presentation of a client welcome. Your research skills and narration on a motor coach is part of the program, plus a written test and your observed participation and input during individual and group assignments. ​There may be a time where your behavior in class or your presentation style may not be appropriate to a career as a Tour Director or Tour Guide and/or disruptive to other class members. If we observe this during the program we will address it with you privately and you are given a chance to show improvement. If the inappropriate or unprofessional behavior continues we will discuss this with you and an option would be for you to withdraw from the program but still have the same benefit of returning and participating in a future program. If you fail in any of these areas you can, as previously stated, retake the entire program at no tuition cost. You may take the program again at the same location you originally participated or at any of the other locations where the program is being held. (Exception is on board the NCL ship program if this is where you participated. If that is the case you can retake the program in any of the land based programs for no tuition cost or if you choose to retake the program aboard the ship at 1/2 tuition.. We ask that you retake the program within 15 months of your original participation.

Q: I am ready, how do I enroll?

A: If you have not already obtained one of our catalogs, you should do so either by ordering one from the catalog page on this web site, or by calling us. After you review the catalog and the web site, you can choose the class of your choice and enroll directly from the IGA website. You can also call and enroll over the telephone if you prefer. There is a non-refundable fee of US$100. This holds a place for you. Tuition is then due 45 days before the class starts. You can also fax in your registration form or enroll over the telephone and pay the registration fee via VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, or PayPal.

We hope that you make an informed decision and, of course, that you choose our school.

Q: If I have more questions can I speak to someone in your office?

A: Of course. If we are in the office, we answer our own phone. The company President answers his phone at 303.780.0131

Q: There is a lot of interest on "Green Tours" and the role a Tour Director or Tour Guide can play? What is IGA doing about "going green"?

A: Our company is the first training facility that includes “Being Enviornmentally Aware on Tour” as part of the curriculum in both the Tour Director and the Tour Guide programs. The International Guide Academy has a session in both programs specifically addressing how a Tour Director and a Tour Guide can encourage “green activities” helpful to the enviornment by themselves, their passengers and suppliers. It covers how the Tour Director and Tour Guide can help their passengers make environmentally friendly decisions while traveling on tours and the methodology in educating the passengers including passengers from different cultures. IGA President and the IGA CEO are both members of Green Guide Alliance.

Thank you.

What is the difference between a Tour Director and a Tour Guide?

Do I have to take both courses?

What are the qualifications of the IGA Instructors?

Can I work part-time?

Why IGA?

What types of companies hire Tour Manager and Tour Guides?

What is IGA’s placement support?

What type of income can I expect to earn?

Why don’t you offer your Certification programs online?

As a Tour Guide or Tour Director, what am I expected to know?

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