International Tour Management Institute (ITMI)

The Premier Training Institute for Tour & Travel Professionals Since 1976


Become a Tour Director/Guide - 15 Day Certification Program

Start Classes, Become Certified & Get Paid to Travel the World!



ITMI Headquarters

14 West Pier
Sausalito, CA 94965

Schedule of Classes

The ITMI Tour Guide / Tour Director Certification Program is 15 days long. Classes are taught in either San FranciscoBoston, Washington D.C. or Vancouver, Canada depending on the year and tourism needs.


  • May 6 to 20: Boston *3 spots left!

  • July 8 to 22: SF

  • August 12 to 26: SF

  • Sep 30 to Oct 14: Wash D.C.

  • December 2 to 16: SF


  • January 27 to Feb 10: SF

  • March 23 to April 6: Vancouver

  • More dates coming soon…

Being a Tour Director is such a remarkable turn in my life’s journey. Perhaps a dream come true. Thank you so much for what you have done on my behalf, and what you continue to do for so many others!
— Craig Smith, ITMI Alumni 2013

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Make your travel dream a reality

Still guiding in France with Tauck, Dixie, ITMI Alumni 1981

Still guiding in France with Tauck, Dixie, ITMI Alumni 1981

If you dream of traveling for your career, you’ve come to the right place. At ITMI, we help people realize their dreams by turning their passion for travel into a fulfilling career. Our core program is our Tour Director Certification.

Since 1976, ITMI was the first U.S. school designed specifically to train professional tour directors and tour guides. Since its inception, ITMI has proudly graduated over 8,000 students from across the globe.

tour guide training

The 15-day Tour Director Certification Course is held in your choice of locations including San Francisco, Boston, Vancouver, Canada and Washington D.C. and consists of 40% classroom and 60% in-the-field training. Because of the real-world, hands-on training needed, this course is only available in person and not offered online.

We are proud that ITMI is a trusted brand in the industry. Our tour company partners hire more ITMI alumni because of our commitment to giving you the most comprehensive curriculum and field experience in the travel industry.

Tour Director / Guide Curriculum

The following is an approximate day-by-day schedule of our 15-day program. It may change slightly depending on various conditions. For full-day programs, a lunch break is included. In addition to in-class training, homework projects will be assigned for both levels.

If you have any questions after reading about our curriculum, please give us call at 415-957-9489 or send us an email at If you’re interested in joining our class, please fill out our online application, and we’ll contact you with more information. APPLY NOW!

Tour Director / Guide Curriculum Week 1

Day 1 (9:30am – 7:30pm) Who’s Who in the Travel Industry
Student / Instructor Introductions and Microphone Techniques; Course Overview; Objectives / Requirements / Nomenclature; Role Clarification / Relationships; Compensation for Services; Tour Company Personnel; Package Tours; Independent Contractor vs Employee; Suppliers; Destination Marketing Organizations; Tour Client Profile; Glossary of Terms; Introduction of Technology and Social Media; Code of Ethics; Get Acquainted Reception.

Day 2 (9:00am – 6:00pm) Local and City Sightseeing
Preparation / Principles Applied to Any Destination; Time Schedule; Points of Interests; Getting a “Mental Picture” of Routing & Landmarks; Research / Commentary; Reference Material; Tips on Description; Painting Word Pictures; Storytelling vs Public Speaking; Being the “Eyes for the People”; Tour Assignment / Information / Reconfirming Spot Time; On-Tour Operation / Conduct; Map Reading; Being the Navigator / Guide; Ambassador; Interaction with Driver; Safety; Gratuities; “Pirating”; Ethics; In-the-Field Presentations. Homework: Work on Resume, Route City Tour Map.

Day 3 (8:30am – 5:30pm) Tour Director Field Workshop
All Day Practical Application of Principles Taught in Local Sightseeing. Orientation Utilizing a Chartered Motorcoach on a City Tour.  Safety / Microphone / Walking Tour Techniques; Social Media and Routing Technology. Homework: Reading Assignment, Study for City Tour Written Exam, Social Media.

Day 4 (9:00am – 6:30pm) Psychology of Group Travel / People and Situational Handling
Tools for Understanding Human Behavior - Particularly On Tour; Problem Solving; Why People Go on Tours; "Satisfier / Dissatisfier" Chart; Ego State Reaction Quiz; Skill Training; Problem Solving Techniques; Internal / External Factors Affecting Group Behavior; Attitude Planning; Communication Skills; Typical Day-to-Day Problems; Listening Skills; Conflict Resolution; Relative Deprivation; Games People Play; Regimentation; Motivation; Keeping your Cool; Creativity; Setting Limits. Homework: Work on Resume, Study City Tour Routing and Commentary, Social Media.

Day 5 (8:30am – 5:30pm) Field Workshop
Airport Check-In Procedures; Customs and Immigration; Written Exam: City Tour; Receptive and Incentive Travel;
Similarities / Differences from Local Sightseeing – Domestic and International Operations; Types of Functions / Groups Handled / Services Provided; Meet & Greet; Hospitality Desk; Dispatch and Coordinate (Shuttle Service); Dine Around / Spouse Programs; Pre and Post Convention Tours; SMERF vs. MICE Operations; Being a Team Player or Leader; Trip Director vs Tour Director or Guide. Homework: Work on Resume, Study City Tour Routing and Commentary, Social Media.

Day 6 (9:00am – 6:00pm) Resume and Cover Letter Workshop, Research City Tour and Individual Counseling
Resume Workshop; Professional Photo Shoot; Optional Sightseeing and Individual Interviews (To be Scheduled).

Day 7 (8:30am – 5:30pm) Field Workshop
Final Exam (Oral) All Day Practical Application – Microphone; Giving Directions; Sightseeing; Review Safety Procedures; Commentary on City Guide Tour Aboard Chartered Motorcoach. Week I Evaluation.

tour training field trip

Tour Director / Guide Curriculum Week 2

(Tour Director Week 1 is a Pre-Requisite to Week 2)

Day 8 (9:00am – 6:30pm) Motorcoach / Intermodal Tours
Historical Perspective or Group Touring: How Tours are Planned and Marketed; Developing “Mental Picture” of Tour; Tour Brochure and Documents; Payment for Services; Collection of Tour Supplies; Operating Instructions; Routing / Commentary / Storytelling; The Professional Briefing; FAQ’s; Map Reading; MCO; Typical Day on the Road; Computing Time / Distance / Routing Technology; Hotel Check-In / Check-Out; Luggage Handling. Homework: Map Routing, Research Overnight Field Trip Topic, Social Media.

Day 9 (9:00am – 6:00pm) International Air Tour and Travel
Role Clarification; Setting the Mood; General / Survival Information; Establishing Credibility. Pre-trip Duties / Preparation; Departure Day; Passenger Check-In; Boarding Procedures; Passports / Visas. Duties During Flight; Jet Lag; Arrival Procedures; Customs / Immigration; Group Clearance; Luggage / Tipping; Working with the Local Guide; Destination Briefings / Hotel Check-In; Reconfirming Flights; Get Acquainted Functions; A Typical Sightseeing Day; Shopping / Commissions / Ethics; Tour Conclusion; Presentations. Homework: Research Overnight Field Trip Topic, Social Media.

Days 10 and 11 – Two-Day Overnight Tour Director Field Training Workshop / FAM Tour
Transportation, Hotel, Admissions and Two Meals are Included in the Cost of Tuition.

Day 12 (9:00am – 6:00pm) Motorcoach / Intermodal Travel / Human Trafficking Awareness Training / Student Travel
Nature of; Similarities / Differences between Air Tours and Motorcoach Tours; Trend Toward Intermodal; Pre-Trip Duties / Preparation; Review Overnight Field Training; Student and Youth Travel vs. Adult Travel and Tours.

Day 13 (9:00am – 6:00pm) Review Technical / Emergencies and Healthy Travel / Cruise / Rail Tour and Travel
Skill Training; Airline Delays; Group Organizers; Packing; Multi-lingual Tours; Tips on How to Have a Successful Tour; Ethical and Professional Considerations; Embarkation; Initial Briefing; Duties Aboard Ship / Train; Disembarkation; Resume / Cover Letter / Interview Techniques. Homework: Complete International Destination Briefing (Oral), Final Exam.

Day 14 (10:00pm – 8:00pm) International Destination Briefing / Final Exam (Written and Oral)
Five-Minute Briefing on a Foreign Destination the Student has never visited; Getting a Job / Interviewing / Professional Development and Career Options; Employee vs. Independent Contractor; Tour Operator Lists; The ITMI Partnership for Life; Recurrent Training; Annual ITMI Symposium & Reunion; ITMI Networks / Updates. Graduation / Reception.

Days 15 and 16 (8:00am – 5:00pm) Exit Interviews / Evaluation / Strategy Session / Action Plan
One-Hour Individual Counseling Session with Two Different Primary Instructors to Determine your Immediate and Long-Term Goals, Share Feedback from the Course and Determine Which Tour Companies will Best Meet your Goals.

Your Dream Job Awaits!!  APPLY NOW!

What is a Tour Guide?

Tour Guide Training

A Tour Guide may do walking tours, food & wine tours, regularly scheduled tours and more. Tour Guides provide local expertise and bring their city to life! They may also work as travel staff with local conventions and incentive travel. Some guides prefer to only work within their city, so they can do something they have a passion for and go home at night to their family and friends.

What is a Tour Director?


A Tour Director leads groups “over the road” and may also be called Tour Managers, Adventure Guides, Course Leaders, and Tour Escorts. They travel with the group throughout the tour managing the details and enjoying the amazing sights and experiences.

Preparing alumni with the latest Whisper Technology


A Travel Career on Your Terms

The rewards of working as a Tour Guide or Tour Director are beyond measure. Making a difference in the world and in the lives of people with whom you travel is personally rewarding. Tour Guides and Tour Directors create bridges of understanding between people and cultures. They educate and inspire their guests to discover new perspectives. Isn’t it amazing when a passion and a career come together? 

We have graduates from their 20‘s to their 80’s; they live and work on every continent throughout the world. Life skills, maturity and diverse experiences are respected in Tour Directing / Guiding. You will be hired because of your abilities and experience, not your age or gender. Some guides work more than 250 days per year and love being on the road; some only work seasonally or just for the summer. Most guides work between 75 to 150 days per year and integrate Tour Guiding and Tour Directing with other interests or hobbies.
If you want to be an Ambassador of Goodwill, have a desire to make the world a better place, possess a passion for travel or just enjoy being with people, Tour Directing is the career for you.


After 40-years of providing tour guides and tour directors for our tour company partners, we are proud to say we have graduates living and working on every continent in the world.  

You may ask yourself why can't I do this on my own or with a week-long program or online course. 

The simple answer is you can…

…the more complex answer is that travel industry professionals agree that online learning only, or a week-long program does not offer the foundational support you need to gain the knowledge necessary to achieve success.

By immersing yourself in the 15-day hands-on ITMI training, tour companies agree that ITMI offers the most comprehensive classroom and field experience in the industry.  

Our tour company partners hire more ITMI alumni and they know we are not just here for the short term...we are here to see you get your “dream job.”

By following your career path, with available guidance hours each month, graduate follow-up reviews, social media, and technology support, we know what you want to check off your “bucket list.”

The culmination of it all is our Annual Symposium and Reunion. Symposium is an opportunity for ITMI Certified Tour Directors / Guides and Tour Operators from around the world to meet face-to-face for jobs, networking, professional development and destination knowledge. 

Take the adventure…heed the call…make your travel passion your career!  APPLY NOW

Instructors Joan Keddell and Diane Ring on the city tour with ITMI Class #302

Instructors Joan Keddell and Diane Ring on the city tour with ITMI Class #302


Tour Guide / Tour Director classes are limited to 20 – 28 students and are conducted seminar style to allow maximum class participation. ITMI uses a highly successful team-teaching method of instruction. You will have the opportunity to learn from at least three professional tour director instructors. You will become acquainted with your instructors, which enables you to work with them, both during the class and after you graduate. Approximately 60% of the instruction is done outside the classroom, in field workshops. You will receive hands-on experience in the operation of actual tours and tour procedures during the field workshops.

The 15-day ITMI Tour Guide / Tour Director program consists of two levels. Completion of Level I qualifies you to become a tour guide leading local sightseeing tours. You will have the skills necessary to work with incentive and receptive tour operators. Successful completion of Level II qualifies you to become a tour director with the expertise necessary to work domestically or internationally.

ITMI and travel industry professionals agree that online learning plus classroom instruction are not enough to gain the knowledge necessary to achieve success; it must be combined with professionally led, hands-on field experience. ITMI offers the most comprehensive classroom and field experience in the industry.

All instruction is given in English. No ESL instruction is offered.

Carol, ITMI Alumni 2012 with a giant turtle in the Galapagos Islands

Carol, ITMI Alumni 2012 with a giant turtle in the Galapagos Islands

Manfred, ITMI Alumni 2015, Costa Rica Native & Amazing Race Conestant in South America

Manfred, ITMI Alumni 2015, Costa Rica Native & Amazing Race Conestant in South America

Charlotte, ITMI Alumni 2012 touring in Cape Cod

Charlotte, ITMI Alumni 2012 touring in Cape Cod