If I were to summarize my New York Tour Guide Licensing Experience for the lay person, I’d say it was a lot like trying to get one’s driver’s license. Flashbacks to trips to the DMV flooded my memory. Except this time, I passed on the first round. :p
The procedure for getting the NYC license is MUCH simpler and straightforward than Washington, DC. Sad, but true.
- Online Registration: Yay! Unlike DC, New York has chosen to enter the 21st Century by offering online registration to people wanting to start their own business. Go to www.nyc.gov/consumers and begin your basic business application for “Sightseeing Guide”. Like DC, the vast majority of options don’t or probably won’t apply to your situation, and it’s made even more streamlined because it caters to “sightseeing guide” and not “roach-coach vendor” – no offense, guys!
- Photo: You may upload a photo (free) or have it taken there (can’t remember if that was included in my reg. fee).
- Child Support: Just answer a yes or no question.
- Online Payment: Once you’ve done the registration, you’ll be able to pay online with your credit card. It’s $115 online and $113 in person.
Print your receipt so you save time and years wondering about them knowing who you are when you get to the DCA. That said, I actually went in with nothing and was able to have my information found and verified. They printed out a receipt for me to show the testing lady (both of whom seemed awfully sweet, fair and encouraging).
The Test itself was a little more rough than I expected because the questions we had available for study were often worded completely differently, so that all of the information we had on it was contained in the question, leaving us with four answer choices we knew nothing about. For instance:
- Wooden water towers blah blah blah expand blah blah cheaper blah blah… Not that we’ve eliminated all the information you already knew about water towers, what additional reason is there to use wooden water towers?
a. They prevent freezing.
b. They conserve heat.
d. Comply with zoning laws.
COULD BE ANYTHING!!!
These newfangled worded questions weren’t meant to be trick questions or even trivia, but sometimes it felt like they were on to us…
Tips for people not taking Bob Brennan Jr.’s FAM Tour Course, aka…Recommended Reading:
- Blue Guide New York City by Carol Wright: Just like DC’s Blue Guide, it’s a treasure trove of relevant information and trivia and figures. It’s also HUGE. You just have to pick your sites and do the best you can. They know you’ll be leading tours, so pick good spots. I can tell you to pay attention to the ethnic history and characteristics of the communities and in particular Jewish culture, religion/church histories, street addresses/architects of significant buildings and some random food.
- Sightseeing Guide License Application handout provided by the DCA: This actually has a lot of pertinent information on guiding regulations and bus regulations that you’ll need to know anyway. Really, who wants to get a moving or parking violation on tour?
- DOT Website; regulations for tour coaches/buses: Again, you do actually need to know some of this stuff just in case you need to make executive decisions and your driver doesn’t know. Speaking of, try to know some streets where buses cannot go.
You hear your pass/fail result and score in minutes, or you can hit “Review Test” to count and see the ones you missed (it doesn’t tell you the answer) and figure out whether you passed. And if you did NOT pass, you may take it again immediately (or come back later after you study a bit more) without paying the testing fee again. Getting 97/150 though… If I can study for 5 days on-and-off and pass with a 125, you can do even better!
Oh, and if you score above 119, you get a star beside your name on some website
– TD’s call this passing “with honors”. The TD’s I took the test with seemed extremely…mmm how do I say this?…”determined” to score high (we started testing at 9:20 and I was only able to sit at 13:10…) and spent at least 2 hours in there! I realized that I had done as much as I could have done, so I just prayed over it and was out of there in 65 minutes. After all, the star only lets people know you scored at least
120, even if you scored 146! :p
That, and all these exams were to me was troublesome, expensive paperwork leading to the life that I really need and want. Exam scores mean nothing on the road. They’re more like hurdles I had to jump through so that I can now learn
how to conduct tours in those two places. I emailed Explorica
, will email WorldStrides when I get confirmation from DC, and naturally I need to seek out other companies that are heavy on NYC and DC. Pray for and wish me luck, won’t you?
And now the news I (and maybe you) have been waiting for since Symposium…
accepting audiovisual tours from ITMI graduates!!
Just like Ruba, I intend to dominate the heck outta Charlotte, maybe even North Carolina in general, Matsuyama, Jeju and a couple of other cities and places I am interested in. The beautiful thing about MTG is that it’s about quality content
!) and getting the tourist to interact with the site on their own. And I can literally be an armchair tour guide! All I have to do is write my commentary, record, upload and point my clients in the right direction and they pay me and go! What a reverse in roles. I’m already developing a strategy involving pricing and content. The professional tour guides’ cut pretty good, too. I’ve already started typing up my commentary…
I really wish Paul (and myself) success with this!