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The Deadline for Applications to this Course Has Now Passed

The deadline for applications was on 31 October 2019 and has now passed. The next Blue Badge Course will run from September 2021 – March 2023. Further information on this course will be posted here in autumn 2020.


STGA Blue Badge Tourist Guide Course 

The STGA is the only accrediting body for qualified professional tourist guides in Scotland. The Blue Badge Training Programme is based on experience gained training guides in Scotland for the past five decades, and incorporates the most recent National, European and International Standards:

  • STGA Standards of Performance and Code of Conduct
  • EN13809:2003 Definition of a Tourist Guide
  • EN15565:2008 Standard Tourism Services
  • World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) accreditation

The Blue Badge Training Programme is designed to prepare students for the STGA Blue Badge Accreditation Examination (the Blue Badge exam).  The Course covers the whole of Scotland and those who complete the Course satisfactorily and pass the Blue Badge exam will be able to work as Blue Badge guides throughout Scotland. The Course is run through the subsidiary company of the STGA, Guide Training Ltd (GTL).


NEW for the 2020-2022 Course!

We are pleased to announce a new and exciting partnership between the STGA and City of Glasgow College that will see the College deliver the Core Knowledge and Business Skills elements of the Blue Badge Course.

One of the main advantages of this is that these lectures will be streamed, thereby reducing the need for frequent travel to a central location and making the Course more accessible.

We are also moving to an annual intake, meaning that applicants need wait no more than one year for the next Course if their application is unsuccessful or they require time to save.

The next Blue Badge Course will run from September 2020 – March 2022, with registration in August 2020 and the Blue Badge exam in April 2022.



The deadline for completing the application form was 11:00 on 31 October 2019.



Objectives of the Blue Badge Training Programme

  • To train at the highest and most comprehensive standards of quality.
  • To train professional tourist guides for the Scottish tourism industry, to be qualified, confident, and capable of guiding anywhere in Scotland.
  • To train in accordance with the requirements of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association (STGA), its Standards of Performance, Code of Conduct, and membership needs.


Outline schedule for the 2020-2022 Blue Badge Course

Summer 2019
Application form available online. Closing date is 11.00 am on 31 October 2019.

Jan and Feb 2020
Face to face interviews (central location, to be confirmed).
Successful applicants will be asked to undertake research and complete some tasks in preparation for the next stage of the selection process.

Apr/May 2020
Introductory weekend - overview of forthcoming Course, practical work, and final selection.

August 2020
Registration at City of Glasgow College and Course induction (Sat/Sun)

September 2020-March 2022

  • Core Knowledge lectures will be streamed on Wednesday evenings between September 2020 and June 2021. Whilst the lectures will remain on-line for some time after the initial streaming, the Wednesday evenings are the only opportunity to interact with the lecturer to seek clarification, pose questions, and contribute to discussion. 
  • Regional Studies and Professional Skills tuition will be delivered through classroom sessions, field visits and tours between September 2020 and March 2022.

These sessions will take place on Saturdays and Sundays, as will associated practical assessments.  2 or 3 weekends per month are required.

  • Weekday attendance is required during one week in October 2020 and one week in July 2021, when Course activities will take place in different parts of the country.
  • Preparation for the Blue Badge exam will take place on Saturdays and Sundays in February and early March 2022.
  • Progress interviews will be held at least twice during the Course, usually over a weekend, appointment times available Friday-Sunday.

Most of the sessions that require attendance will take place in Glasgow or Edinburgh, although other locations may be used from time to time.


Assessments During the Training Programme

Progress will be assessed through class assignments, written assessments, and practical demonstration of skills. Towards the end of the Course, students will sit a Course examination. The Course and all Course assessments will be in English. Speakers of English as a second or other language should submit with their application evidence (such as a CEFR, equivalent, or other certificate) of their competence in English language skills.

Students who successfully complete the Course and pass the Course assessments and final examination will be eligible for the STGA Blue Badge Accreditation Examination (Blue Badge exam), which will take place in March and April 2022.


Course Outline

The Training Programme will be delivered through 3 integrated modules:

Module Contact Hours Approx. Self-directed Study
Core Knowledge 130 hours:
Virtual classroom & field visits
260 hours
Regional Studies 186 hours:
Classroom sessions and field visits
372 hours
Professional Skills 112 hours:
Classroom and practical sessions
224 hours

Core Knowledge
covers the following themes and topics:
Land – Geology, Natural History, Geography
People – Archaeology, History
Arts – Architecture, Visual Arts, Literature, Music, Film & TV, Lore
Society – Religion, Education, Law, Politics, Sport, Food & Drink, Languages

Regional Studies covers landscapes, histories and cultures across the whole of Scotland.

Professional Skills includes Professional Ethics, Guiding Techniques, Group Management, Business Knowledge & Skills, and Language Workshops, with First Aid training arranged and undertaken by students in their own time.

These modules will be taught through interactive sessions, including:
Streamed lectures and online resources; presentations, talks, and seminars; group work, individual presentations, and role-play; practical training on walks and coach tours; study away days, personal development goal setting, ongoing feedback and discussion.
It is essential that students have regular access to a computer, a printer, and email and are competent in the use of each.

Regional Studies and Professional Skills will only be delivered by active accredited Blue Badge tourist guides, most of whom have also undergone training to become accredited trainers for the STGA, some for the WFTGA as well. Core Knowledge and Business Skills will be delivered through City of Glasgow College by experts in the subject.


STGA Blue Badge Accreditation Examination (Blue Badge exam)

Whilst the Blue Badge Course is run by Guide Training Limited through the Course Director, the Blue Badge exam is run separately by the STGA’s Examination Team. The examination comprises the following elements:

  • a 5-day tour plan
  • 2 coach and walking tour assessments
  • written papers (short answer questions, a 300-word essay, a mapping exercise)
  • tour plan viva and Professional Guiding Skills interview

Students who wish to guide in a language other than English will be required to sit an additional examination in each such language – including if it is their first language.


Application for the Course and Costs

Step 1 Application
Online application forms will be available from September 2019. The closing date for submission is the 11.00 am on 31 October 2019.

Step 2 Interviews
These will take place in January and February 2020.

Step 3 Introductory weekend
Those who are successful at interview will be asked to join an introductory weekend, which also forms part of the selection process. Participants will be issued with a Reading List and an assignment to be completed in advance. The weekend provides a taster of how the Course is delivered and is an opportunity for candidates to decide if they wish to continue with the application. Final selection for the Course will take place following this weekend.

 There is a non-refundable charge for this weekend of £160 payable by the 1st April 2020. For those who continue to the Blue Badge Course this will be deducted from the course fee.

Step 4(a) Training Programme
The fee for the 2020-22 Blue Badge Course is £6,866 (including VAT).  Our terms are:

  • Full fee payable to Guide Training Limited by the 1 August 2020 to secure the place.
  • If a student requires to leave the course, s/he must inform the Course Director in writing. Each case will be discussed individually on merit by the Board of GTL and the Course Director. If course work has been passed, deferment for one year may be offered.
  • As the Course is self-financing, we regret that no refunds will be given if the student withdraws from the training programme (or part of it), or for non-use of services provided.

The training fees include teaching and training on all timetabled dates; where required, overnight accommodation, on a shared room basis; training materials, (including Handbooks, Tour Notes and Lecture Notes), and access to the Student Online Forum.

Step 4(b) STGA Student Membership
Participants on the training programme will be required to become student members of the STGA. Student membership for 2020-21 is £160 and provides the student with a membership card which can be used for free access to Historic Environment Scotland and some NTS properties; access to STGA Members’ Forum central and branch social and CPD events.

Step 5 STGA Blue Badge Accreditation Examination (Blue Badge exam)
Access to this examination is conditional on all Course assignments and assessments being passed at a minimum of 50%.  All students are examined in English, with the option of sitting additional examinations in the language(s) of their choice.

There is a separate fee for each examination.  Fees are still to be confirmed but will be notified well in advance.



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 GTL 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. It is really down to each individual to market their services, be available, be flexible, build relationships, and deliver an excellent professional service.

To be offered work through the Booking Service, it is essential to keep your on-line availability calendar up-to-date – if you show as unavailable, you will not be offered work.

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 charged by STGA guides last year:

Service Average Rate
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