Course Details

Delivered through a combination of online webinars and field trips, this QQI Level 6 course in tour guiding gives you the opportunity to train and qualify as a national tourist guide.

Start Date
21st February 2023
QQI Level 6
Portobello Institute
Course Duration
3 months


Are you interested in becoming a tour guide? The National Tourist Guiding Programme is a QQI Level 6 qualification for those who wish to train as a Tour Guide. This course combines practical tour guiding skills with the theoretical knowledge to enable learners to provide guiding and tour management services for tourists. You will explore the historic, cultural and social aspects of the city and the region. You will learn how to provide a commentary and organise and manage a tour. Practical experience will be gained through a series of simulated guided tours. This course meets the criteria for the Failte Ireland Industry Qualified Tour Guide Directory. The National Tourist Guiding Badge is issued to successful students upon graduation.

The delivery of this programme is by interactive webinar sessions and online learning allowing you the flexibility to study from a location convenient to you. Webinars are recorded allowing you the opportunity to catch up should you miss a session. As well as webinars you will gain practical experience by attending a number of guided tours with your classmates. There is an easy payment plan designed to make this course affordable for you.  These factors, together with the one to one tutorial support, offer you a course that is accessible, affordable and achievable.

Why should I study this course?

The tourism industry is one of the largest and ever-changing sectors in the world. It accounts for a third of global services trade and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. The industry and employment opportunities available are wide and varied if you like travelling, meeting new people every day or working outdoors.

This programme is ideally suited to a person seeking flexibility with a career where they can choose the times of the year they wish to work. The main tourist season is from March to October however with rising tourist numbers, tour guides can now avail of employment opportunities all year round.

Portobello Institute has been training professionals for the Travel & Tourism sector for over 25 years. Our QQI level 6 National Tour Guiding award gives you the opportunity to learn from a range of experts. The tutor team are all experienced industry professionals who can offer superior insight into what it takes to gain employment in this exciting industry. Portobello Institute supports students with their efforts to gain employment as tour guides by introducing them to the major tour operators. Many past graduates have been recruited directly from this programme by the main tour operators in Ireland.

“A tour guide takes you to world’s you have always dreamt of visiting."

Who will recognise my qualification?

Upon completion of this programme you will hold QQI Level 6 Special Purpose Award in National Tourist Guiding 6S20232 with 45 credits.


What will I study during this Tour Guide – Starts Feb ’23 course?

The primary focus of this programme is to prepare you for employment in the travel and tourism sector. This course is broad based with opportunity to gain an insight into the many facets of the sector from tourism to the operation of an airline, working in a travel agency to being a tour operator are all covered during this programme.

The purpose of this programme is to provide you with the knowledge, skill and competence to work effectively as a tour guide. You will gain a strong understanding of the role and responsibilities of the tourist guide in the context of the Irish tourism industry and develop key skills in customer care and interaction. You will also develop an understanding and appreciation of Irish cultural, built and natural heritage, which is key to your future role as a tour guide.

You will gain the knowledge, skill and competence to manage tours including all travel and transfers within different tour contexts. You will study the principles of tour management and devise commentaries and itineraries for coach and walking tours including a range of different contexts throughout Ireland. You will gain the practical skills needed to manage tours to a professional standard, implementing appropriate administration procedures and demonstrating appropriate safety procedures.

During the course you will complete the following modules;

Module 6N20229 – Irish Tour Guiding

  • Introduction to tourism and tour guiding.
  • Structure of the Irish Tourism Industry.
  • Attributes of a tour guide.
  • Main tourist markets and types of tourists.
  • Irish Architecture and Buildings.
  • Irish Vernacular Architecture.
  • Tour Planning
  • Customer Handling Skills.
  • Communication Skills.

Module 6N20230 – National Tour Management

  • Tour Management – logistics, administration, scheduling, itineraries, team working
  • Group Management to include diverse populations
  • Health and Safety
  • The ‘Jogger Note’
  • Communication Skills
  • First Aid

Module 6N20231 Irish Natural Heritage and Culture

  • Essential local information (banking hours, post offices, food and drink, shopping, leisure pursuits, entertainment etc)
  • Historic sites and buildings
  • Architectural heritage
  • Geography and key physical features
  • Agriculture and forestry
  • Fishing and maritime heritage
  • Archaeology
  • Geology/soils
  • Flora and fauna
  • The local economy/socio-demographics of the region
  • Leisure pursuits and amenities
  • Folklore / myth / storytelling
  • Famous people associated with the area
  • Performing arts
  • Literature (songs/poets/writers/language)
  • Derivation of Irish place name
  • Ecology
  • Other (to allow the tutor to include other topics specific to their area of interest and which is not included on this indicative list)

Who will I learn from?

Programme Manager

Jim Dempsey

Lecturing at Portobello Institute on the Tour Guide course is Jim Dempsey. Jim has over two decades of experience in the tourism industry and gives fascinating tours right across the country.

This is not Jim’s first encounter with the Portobello Institute.

“I did what was a Dublin City and Environs Badge in 2013 here. I did the national badge which I was teaching here in 2018.”

Jim has a somewhat unique set of credentials as a tour guide as he is only one of approximately 25 tour guides in Ireland to hold both of the aforementioned badges, both of which are accredited by Fáilte Ireland, in an industry of around 850 qualified tour guides.

When asked where his love for guiding comes from, Jim said:

“I always say the number one thing you need to have to be a good tour guide is to love the sound of your own voice. The other side of it then is you need to love the country, which I do”.

“I would be a very self-reflective person too. Tour guiding operates in the realm of public history. I am a public historian. In other words, I talk about history to the public which is a very different subject to actual history. A lot of people get that confused. When you’re dealing with public history, you’re dealing with the narrative, which is we all live in a narrative of what we think Ireland is. So, I’m sharing my version of Ireland. The more you do that the more you realise this is a very personal thing. I really enjoy that.”

Tourism is a constantly evolving industry, Jim says, and the key to being a good tour guide is to evolve as a person alongside it.

“You have to stay very fresh. You must reinvent yourself every winter and I love the seasonality of it. So, teaching in the winter months is good because if you want to learn something, teach it. So, this is actually going to multiply my learning. I learn every year. I have taken courses in voice work, story-telling and specialist subjects like whiskey over the winter season.”

That constantly changing environment is one of the tougher aspects of the profession Jim believes. When asked what the most challenging thing is day-to-day, he says:

“Staying really fresh. Making people feel like this is the first tour guide you’ve ever done. Making people feel that they’re unique. Making people feel like you’re not just regurgitating something you’ve done a hundred times, which happens quite a lot. So, you have to stay on your toes. That’s probably the hardest part.”

Jim was resistant to answer where his favourite place to tour is.

“It would really be wherever I am today.”

However, after a gentle nudge, he settled on the West coast of Ireland and in particular the Dingle Peninsula.

“That’s where I began and put my tour guiding boots on. I know it very well. I’ve been going there for 20 years. It’s amazing seeing how that place has transitioned and it’s a very distinctive culture down there to the rest of Kerry.”

But he finds pleasure in touring across the country and enjoys every area he gets to work in.

“This country is very different. Each county is different when you get to know it. For me, travelling around Ireland is like travelling around the world.”

Jim is excited to lecture at Portobello Institute and teaching on the programme taught to him just three years ago.

He joins as a tutor for the QQI Level 6 course in Tour Guiding. He imagines he’ll be a direct and engaging teacher, something he picked up from his teacher for his Dublin badge, Sally Creegan.

“I think I’ll be very direct. I’ll be looking to elicit from people what it is they need to learn and then start working with that. There’s a very set curriculum. It’s very organised. There are lesson plans for each lesson. You can just deliver that in a very monotone way, and you can deliver the course but you’re not actually teaching individuals. I would be looking to go into each individual and figure what they need.

“When I did my Dublin badge here, Sally Creegan the tutor I had here was a fantastic teacher. I have my guru when it comes to how to teach tour guiding. She made us into great tour guides. And that’s what she did. She went through us all individually. She’s a great teacher.”

Jim will measure his success in the role by his student’s right results in their exams to a certain extent but also recognises that real-life experience is a key factor in his student’s journey.

“They all pass their exams as a baseline. Overcoming resistance and blocks. This is an intense course. There’s a mountain of learning to be done. Getting people to the other side and making sure they step into the industry.

“It’s starting off on the right foot. That’s important. This trade is changing all the time and no more so than now. Tourism is being totally reinvented because of COVID. So really making sure that they step out into the world with their eyes wide open. That will be success for me. Giving them the real deal.”

Personal Academic Tutor

Each student is assigned a personal academic tutor to support you throughout your learning journey. They are available to offer you telephone and email support at any time. You can arrange to meet them for further one to one guidance at a time convenient to you.

Many of our past graduates have found it is the opportunity to ask a simple question, seek direction and submit a draft of their assessment that supported them most to successful completion. Emailing your tutor at any stage during your programme to ask a query or submit a draft of your assessment supports you to achieve your personal best throughout your studies with Portobello.

This level of one to one support is a particular benefit to choosing Portobello as your Institute of choice to complete your studies.

Success Story

“This year, I took a group of students from my old college, Portobello Institute, on a guided tour at the Guinness Storehouse – something I never thought would happen."

Frankie Farrell

Tour Guide – Starts Feb ’23 Tour Guide – Starts Feb ’23
Success Story

The diversity within the cohort of this programme enriches the experience for all our national tourist guiding students each year!

"Don't let age be the deciding factor!"

Tour Guide – Starts Feb ’23 Tour Guide – Starts Feb ’23
Success Story

Tour Guide – Starts Feb ’23 Tour Guide – Starts Feb ’23

How will I learn?

Delivery Mode

This course has been specifically re-designed for delivery by online learning with live interactive webinar sessions and practical on-site familiarisation trips. It is very suited to you if you have a busy work and home life and want to fit study around this. During the induction, you will be given your log-in details to the online portal, “ePortobello”. Here you will find course notes, reading lists, articles of interest and assessment guidelines. The content is structured in an easy to “find and follow” format. You will need basic computer skills such as searching the internet and typing a word document. The webinars are scheduled two evenings a week on the same evening to give structure to your learning journey and encourage you to continue to progress through the programme.

Alongside webinars there are also 5 weekend dates (either Saturday or Sunday) where students participate in practical tour guiding sessions to gain experience delivering and managing a tour.

Course Structure

Webinars take place two evenings a week for the duration of the course. Webinars are recorded and should you miss a session, you can catch up with the recorded session at a later date. You will only be able to access webinars of the group you are assigned to. There are also six sessions that take place on Saturdays. These sessions are for field trips. A provisional schedule of classes can be viewed here.

What is a Webinar?

A webinar, in the context of online learning, is a lecturer delivering a presentation or class online to a group of students. We use specifically designed e-learning software so you can participate in the class just as if you were present in the same room. You can ask a question of the lecturer at any stage during the class. The software is designed with “break-out rooms” where you can discuss a topic or complete a group exercise with a smaller group from your class. You will need a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone that has internet connection, an audio facility so you can hear and speak during the class and a camera so your lecturer and fellow class participants can see you. The webinar is a secure online environment and only those permitted entry by the lecturer can gain access to the “classroom”. Webinars are recorded during each session and should you miss a session, you can catch up with the recorded session at a later date. You will only be able to access webinars of the group you are assigned to.

Tutor Support

You can email your tutor at any stage during the module to ask a simple query or submit a draft of your assessment. Our programme management team are always available to offer you telephone and email support and if you need to, you can arrange to meet them for further one to one guidance.

Many of our past graduates have found it is the opportunity to ask a simple question, seek direction and submit a draft of their assessment that supported them most to successful completion.  This level of one to one support is a particular benefit to choosing this mode of study. Portobello Institute has invested in a team of programme managers and tutors who are experienced sports therapy practitioners as well as qualified and knowledgeable educators. They are available to assist you at every stage of this programme.

Field Trips

There are five tour guiding sessions in all.

The first is often a common tour delivered in a common area such as a walking tour of your closest major city. It will go through the main sites along a planned route and will give you the how and why a route such as that was selected.

The second might be a lesser known tour in the event that your regular route is cut off by unforeseen circumstances (city roadwork) or a foreseen but unavoidable situation (a parade).

The third may go through guiding a tour indoors and the differences required in how you port yourself in a museum-like setting.

The fourth and the fifth will bring you on a coach tour outside of your regular area and go through not only delivering a tour on a coach, but also keeping groups together, giving strict deadlines for return, meeting points, etc. The fifth tour will repeat much of the fourth, by design, since the role itself will require repeating the same information many times over. It is also important to reinforce this type of tour since it is by far the most common.

Course Schedule

This course runs from 21/02/23 – 12/05/2023

Webinars take place Tuesday & Wednesday evenings, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm.

There are also six Saturday sessions which will be used to deliver tours and familiarisation trips in Dublin and its environs.

Saturday classes run from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm.

How will I be assessed?

A variety of assessment methods are used to support students with different learning styles. These vary from written reports to practical case studies to examinations. We encourage you to reflect on your knowledge gain with a number of assignments designed to explore your learning journey. All of these assessment methods are seeking to support you to combine theory with scenario-based learning and how to practically implement these methods into your everyday practice.

Career prospects

The role of a Tour Guide

  • Manage the experience in a positive and safe manner with control over important aspects of the tour and put redundancy plans in place.
  • Inform through storytelling and tactile involvement in what should be an honest but favourable picture of the country/area.
  • Entertain your guests and leave them with a memorable and enjoyable experience they will share with others.
  • Safety is paramount so keep it in mind throughout your planning and the execution of your tour.

Speak to an expert

Choosing a course that will lead you to your career of choice is a significant decision. Understanding the delivery modes, supports available, career opportunities and further study options are all key considerations when making your choice. Our course adviser team are experts in the courses Portobello offers, the employment prospects and possible progression routes to other programmes – they will guide you through the detail and support you with any queries you may have.

It is important you make the right choice for you and choose the Institute and course that will best suit your needs.

How do I apply?

Entry to this course is by direct application to the college.

Applicants should meet ONE of the following entry requirements:

  • Hold a Leaving Certificate with pass in 6 ordinary level subjects
  • Hold an NFQ Level 5 Major Award
  • Be a Mature Applicant i.e. over the age of 23 years

Whilst not a requirement, having good communication skills and a genuine interest in people are key attributes to becoming a successful tour guide.

Fees & Payment Options


Course Price

Per academic year.


Exam Body Reg. Fee

Per academic year.


Full Payment

Total amount payable.


Easy Payment Plan

Deposit of 30% on booking. Balance to be paid in 2 instalments due on the 1st of the month commencing the month after the course starts. Protection for Learner insurance is included in the Easy Payment Plan.

Deposit + 2 Instalments

Deposit payment (€699.30), followed by 2 scheduled payments every 1 month(s). Includes one off instalment fee of €195.00.

  • €815.85 due on 1st June 2023.
  • €815.85 due on 1st July 2023.