Before you can join the Guides Association of NYC, you must first be an actively licensed New York City guide. There are thousands of people with NYC sightseeing guide licenses, and here we will provide you the info on how to join their ranks.
How do I become a New York City tour guide?
New York City requires licensing for tour guides.
A guide is defined as "any person who engages in the business of guiding or directing people to any place or point of public interest or who, in connection with any sightseeing trip or tour, describes, explains or lectures concerning any place or point of public interest to any person within the city or obtains the patronage of any person for such trip" (NYC Admin Code). NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is responsible for issuing the tour guide license ("Sightseeing Guide License") and currently requires all applicants to be at least 18 years old, pay a fee and pass a computer-based multiple-choice examination in person in Manhattan. All licenses must be renewed every 2 years and have the same validity, expiring on March 31 of even years, regardless of when the license was issued.
More information can be found on the DCA website.
How do I prepare for the New York City tour guide license exam?
Attend our monthly membership meetings and meet GANYC Guides! Also, read and take tours! A NYC tour guide (and former GANYC member, since retired) wrote the current exam in 2003 with the purpose of confirming knowledge of local landmarks, history and points of interest of the city. The DCA website contains a suggested study guide. For those needing additional assistance, GANYC Guides and other organizations do offer exam study courses (many guides have passed the exam studying on their own).
Of course, passing the exam is just the first step in leading tours in this exciting, continual learning process that is our profession! It is helpful and important to take guided tours. Tours are offered by GANYC Guides and other NYC tour guides every day throughout NYC at a variety of price points. These tours will provide you with information and allow you to see a professional in action. You’ll get to see how different tour guides work and see the things you’d like to focus on for your own future guided tours. Knowledge of NYC history is just one facet of being a tour guide. Can you move a group through the city on all of its various modes of transportation? Can you tell a story and keep a group’s interest? Can you quickly modify your previously, carefully prepared plans as the city throws its inevitable roadblocks at you? That’s just a sampling of the complexities and joys of being a NYC tour guide.
GANYC continues to offer a variety of learning opportunities for our members through our colleague-led FAM tours and other professional development opportunities.