STGA Blue Badge Tourist Guide Training: 2021-2023 Course
The STGA is the only accrediting body for qualified professional tourist guides in Scotland and we have over 60 years’ experience in this field. The Blue Badge Training Programme is accredited by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) and is acknowledged internationally as being of the highest standard.
Please read this information in conjunction with the Course Prospectus and the Key Dates and Fees sheet available to download below.
The Blue Badge Training Programme
This course covers the whole of Scotland and those who complete the course satisfactorily and pass the separate STGA Blue Badge Accreditation Examination will be able to work as Blue Badge guides throughout Scotland.
The course is delivered in partnership with the City of Glasgow College, one of the main advantages of this being that the college lectures are streamed, thereby reducing the need for travel to a central location.
Please note that the course, assessments, and final examination will all be in English. Students must be competent in understanding spoken and written English and have confident and fluent speaking skills. Speakers of English as a second or other language should submit with their application evidence of their competence in English.
Whilst ability in another language is not essential, we welcome applicants who are competent in languages other than English and wish to guide in these languages.
The next Blue Badge Course will run from September 2021 – March 2023, with registration in August 2021 and the Blue Badge exam in April 2023.
Numbers on the Blue Badge course are limited to a maximum of 36 and there are usually more than 120 applications. We will be looking for 36 students who:
- are absolutely committed to a future career as a professional tourist guide in Scotland
- are prepared to work substantial hours in the main tourist season (April-October)
- have the time and resources to commit to an intensive 18-month course
- can demonstrate the skills and attributes required of a professional tourist guide.
Time commitment (please refer to the Course Prospectus)
If you are offered a place on the course you will be expected to be available for the following class activities:
- streamed lectures from 6pm on Wednesdays September 2021 to June 2022
- for the duration of the course, classroom sessions, field trips and practical guiding activities on Saturdays and Sundays, once or twice a month
- one week in October 2021 for seminars and away days to different locations
- one week (with overnight stays) in July 2022, when course activities will take place in different parts of the country.
Most of the regular sessions that require attendance will take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Linlithgow, although other locations may be used from time to time.
Course fee (please refer to the Key Dates and Fees sheet)
The fee for the 2021-23 Blue Badge Course is likely to be in the region of £7,500.
- A deposit of £500 is required on accepting a place and the balance must be paid in full by mid-July 2021.
- As the course is completely self-funding and the cost is kept as low as possible, we regret there can be no refunds if a student withdraws from the course or part of it, or for non-use of services provided.
- The STGA reserves the right to cancel the course and refund all fees paid, or to offer the course at a higher fee, if there are insufficient enrolments. If a student requires to leave the course, s/he must inform the Course Director in writing. Each case will be considered on merit and if work to date has been satisfactory a place on the next course, or deferment of the examination for a year, may be offered.
Application and selection process
- Information webinars – early October 2020
- Deadline for submission of application forms – 9th November 2020
- Recruitment Day – your choice of the 6th or 7th February 2021
- Online interviews – various dates and times from 22 February to 5th March 2021
- Offers of places – mid-end of March 2021
The Recruitment Day includes individual presentations (prepared beforehand), written tasks, and group discussions.
Please note that not all applicants will progress through all stages. The course runs every year, so you will have the opportunity to apply again if your application is unsuccessful at any stage, or you decide to delay your application.
If you are offered a place on the course, you will have one week in which to accept it before it is offered to someone else. The class of 2021-2023 should be confirmed by the end of March 2021.
Why do I have to pay the full fee up front and why are there no refunds?
The Blue Badge Course is self-financing and is based on known costs such as staff payments and venue hire and anticipated costs for expenditure on coach hire, hotel accommodation and stationery supplies. These costs are divided by the number of places available. The costs remain the same, even if someone withdraws from the Course, therefore we must ensure that these costs are covered.
Who will I work for?
Upon successful completion of the Blue Badge Course and the Blue Badge exam, students become self-employed members of the STGA. Members of the Association get work directly through tour operators, Destination Management Companies (DMCs), shore excursions companies, and independent tourists, and also through the STGA Booking Service.
A pro-active, can-do, positive, and flexible attitude are must-have traits of any members wishing to maximise the amount of work they are offered. Language skills are a bonus – members who are qualified in more than one language will find themselves to be eligible for more work than those who are not.
All newly qualified members are invited to a networking event and put in direct contact with key players in the industry who use Blue Badge guides in Scotland. This has proven to be a very popular and extremely valuable event in previous years.
How much work will I have?
Many guides work full-time as guides during the season, and beyond. Tourism in Scotland is growing and there has not been any shortage of work in recent years*. STGA members benefit from having their own page on our website and can also market their services in other ways. The key to attracting work is to be available, be flexible, build relationships, and deliver an excellent professional service.
How much can I Earn?
As all STGA guides are self-employed members of the Association, it is up to each member to determine their own rates for the services they provide. As a guideline, the table below shows the range of rates paid for tours booked through the STGA booking system in 2019:
English Half Day (up to 4 hrs)
£160 – £180
English Full Day (up to 8 hrs)
£250 – £280
Foreign Language Half Day (up to 4 hrs)
£190 – £220
Foreign Language Full Day (up to 8 hrs)
£280 – £320
Driver Guide Half Day (up to 4 hrs)
£350 – £380
Driver Guide Full Day (up to 8 hrs)
£480 – £540
*There is every expectation that tourist guiding will recover to normal levels from the coronavirus crisis.
Please note that this information was prepared during the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus outbreak and may be subject to change.