A specialist tour operator is a person who guides tourists through a particular region or area in a specific fashion or with a set itinerary. These tour operators focus on a specific experience they want the tourist to have, rather than simply taking them on a tour of various sites in a region. In order to become a specialist tour operator, you may want to complete at least a high school education and get a driver's license. Maintain a clean driving record, and obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) in order to become a specialist tour operator capable of moving tourists on buses or other large vehicles.
No set level of education is necessary to become a specialist tour operator, but you will need to have an in-depth knowledge of a particular place or region, as you will be responsible for guiding and educating tourists throughout the length of the tour. You can work for a tour company or you can start one on your own; starting a business on your own is difficult and will require a significant amount of preparation and planning, so if you choose this option, you may want to consider taking a business planning course that will prepare you for the process.
Develop good communication skills and a keen interest in meeting new people. If you want to become a specialist tour operator, you will have to interact with a variety of people with different personalities, and you will need to put their comfort ahead of your own. Most importantly, you will need to be trained in first aid and CPR in order to qualify for a position as a specialist tour operator. Accidents can happen on tours, and you will be the first responder if such accidents should occur.
Learn as much as possible about the specialist tour you will be guiding. Some specialist tours, for example, focus on a specific experience — riding a bicycle through wine country in California, for example. Make sure you are both physically and mentally prepared to become a specialist tour operator, especially if the tour will require rigorous or consistent exercise. The tour operator on a bike tour through wine country will need to be prepared not only to teach tourists how to cycle properly and safely, but also how to enjoy the wineries and the scenery. The operator may need to be able to repair bicycles as well, and educate tourists on grapes, wines, and the winemaking process.