FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

In this section you will find answers to:

A - gerneral questions

  • Do I need to be Norwegian or from Bergen to become a guide?
  • Do I need to know Norwegian to become a guide?
  • What is the guiding season in Bergen?
  • What do I need so that I can apply?
  • What are the most required languages for guiding?
  • What do I get in return for working with NGS?
  • Can I develop a career with NGS?
  • What are the steps towards becoming a guide?

B - questions regarding course & practical work 

  • Do I need to do the course to become a guide?
  • Will I get paid while I am doing the course?
  • Do I have to pay for the course?
  • How is the course organized?
  • What do I need to bring for the guide training?
  • Am I guaranteed a job after the guide course?
  • What if I fail the exam?
  • Will I be employed as a guide?
  • Do I have to pay tax?
  • Do I get employee insurance?
  • Do I have the right for paid sick leave?
  • Do I have to stay and work the entire season?
  • How much can I expect to work?
  • How much can I expect to earn?
  • Do you get tips as a guide in Norway?
  • Can I do other paid work while working as a guide?
  • When do guides get paid?
  • Do I need a mobile phone and Norwegian phone number? Do I get refunded for the costs of my calls/sms?
  • Is there a uniform? Do I have to pay for it?
  • What kind of tours will I be doing?
  • How can I practice and improve my guiding skills?
  • If I want to come and guide next summer with NGS, do I have to go through the selection process again?

 

C - questions frequently asked by international applicants

  • Do I need a work permit?
  • Do I need a tax card?
  • Will I have to pay tax? And if so, how much?
  • Do I need a visa to come to Norway?
  • Does Norwegian Guide Service organise accommodation?
  • How do I find a place to stay in Bergen?
  • How much does it cost to rent in Bergen?
  • How much would an expenses budget add up to while living in Bergen?


D - "...can I still apply?" questions

  • I have worked with a different guide agency in the past. Can I still apply?
  • Deadline has passed. Can I still apply?
  • I am not available throughout the whole season 2018. Can I still apply?
  • I do not have sufficient funds to support myself until my first salary. Can I still apply?
  • I do not have any previous work experience. Can I still apply?
  • I do not live in Bergen. Can I still apply? 
  • I do not live in the city center. Can I still apply?
  • I do not have a passport and I live outside of Norway. Can I still apply?
  • I am not a EU/EEA citizen. Can I still apply?
  • I don’t currently live in Bergen. If I get invited for an interview how will that go?
  • I don’t have a visa for Norway. Can I still apply?
  • I don’t have a work permit for Norway. Can I still apply?

A -General questions:

  • Do I need to be Norwegian or from Bergen to become a guide?

You do not need to be Norwegian or from Bergen to become a guide with Norwegian Guide Service (NGS). We have fantastic guides that are Norwegian for as many as 20 generations and we have fantastic guides that are German, Italian, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian or even Peruvian or Mexican. Working as a guide means working in an international environment and we see the cultural diversity of our guides as an asset.

  • Do I need to know Norwegian to become a guide?

You don’t need to know Norwegian to become a guide, the core literature in the course is in English. But knowing Norwegian sure gives you a distinct advantage: you can better communicate with bus drivers, with employees of museums and venues you can read materials that are in Norwegian and keep up to date with local and national news and you can deepen your understanding of Norwegian culture. So we do warmly encourage you to learn Norwegian and use it if you don’t already.

  • What is the guiding season in Bergen?

By guiding season we refer to the period when there is the highest tourist activity in Bergen. Cruise ships start arriving already in February and the last are leaving Bergen early November. However the high season of tourism in Bergen is from the end of April to mid-September with June being usually the busiest moth of the season.

  • What do I need so that I can apply?

First and foremost, read carefully the job description on our website to familiarize yourself fully with our offer and the job requirements. After you have assessed yourself that becoming a guide with NGS is something for you, you only need to prepare a Europass CV and a recent photo, sign up for the mailing list if you have not done so already and then follow the instructions. Once you signed up to the mailing list once we open a new recruitment round you will receive an email with a link to the application form which you will need to follow. After that we take it from there together.

  • What are the most required languages for guiding?

English and German are the two main languages that the vast majority of cruise passengers coming to Bergen speak. Spanish, Italian, French and Dutch are also in quite high demand. Follow this link to view a statistic of cruise visitors and their nationality: http://bergenhavn.no/cruise/cruisestatistikk/

  • What do I get in return for working with NGS?

We are passionate about guiding and we view it as a profoundly human experience. Working with guides gives us a chance to help them become better and do the best work they can. The skils you acquire as a guide will help you for the rest of your life: how to speak to large groups of people so that they will listen; how to lead a group of people, how to manage emergencies and difficult situations; how to react professionally to complaints and emotional outbreaks and many other skills in addition to that. And in return the guides grow our company with the quality of the work they do. For more practical aspects of what you get for working with NGS read the website and the job description for this season. But the highest guide salary/assignment in Bergen, an international environment of professionals to work with and a chance to develop and certify skills to build a career are just a few to mention.

  • Can I develop a career with NGS?

Many of our guides return season after season with excitement in their hearts and do what they really enjoy: guiding. Once you become a certified NGS Guide you also have the possibility to return to work for NGS the following seasons. Apart from that, NGS is a part of a larger network of companies with guide agencies and tour operators all over Norway and Northern Europe. Working as a guide with NGS might just be the stepping stone towards future career in the service industry. At the end of your contract with NGS you will receive a certification and a letter of recommendation. Our network is continuously growing and should you want to apply for other positions of middle and upper management, starting as a guide is a great way to get noticed.

  • What are the steps towards becoming a guide?

We hope that you get as clear an image as possible about what becoming a guide involves. So please read our website and job description and the steps presented there:

http://norwegianguideservice.no/become-a-guide/

 

B - questions regarding course and practicalities

  • Do I need to do the course to become a guide?

Yes, you do. Even though you might know a lot more about Norway and Bergen than you can learn in the guide course, there are specific tasks, techniques and standards required from all our guides by our company and our clients. The course and training is also focused on equipping you with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle most situations.

  • Will I get paid while I am doing the course?

You will not get paid while undertaking your education to become a guide. Once you start working as a guide you will start getting paid. The education and training and certification program to become a guide is an investment in your future. Successfully completing the course and passing the exams will give you the chance to work with NGS and earn money the same year.

  • Do I have to pay for the course?

Technically speaking, the course is fully sponsored by NGS. You will however be required to wear the NGS Jacket and uniform during the on-site guite training and you will have to pay NOK 700 as a deposit for it. At the end of your seasonal contract with NGS, after all formalities have been closed you will be reimbursed the entire sum. 

  • How is the course organized?

The course has 3 parts: the online learning platform and self-study; the on-site training; and joining tours as a trainee.

The online course starts in February and is open until mid April. You can be anywhere in the world as long as you have internet connection and you can plan how and when you study as it suits you.

In 2018, for the on-site course there will be two rounds of on-site guide training. You can choost to either join the

A) February - March: aimed mostly at local applicants - 23/02/2018 to 18/03/2018 evenings from 16:00 to 20:00 and full day on weekends.

or 

B) End of April: aimed at international applicants  - 17/04/2018 to 30/04/2018 full days mostly;

You have to have completed the online course before you join the on-site course and you have to complete one of the on-site course in order to become an authorised guide.

Before going on your first tour on your own you will be joining experienced guides as a trainee to get a first hand experience of what a tour involves.

 

  • What do I need to bring for the guide training?

You will need to invest the time and undivided attention necessary to get as much out of it as you can. Otherwise we expect you to come dressed as you would when working as a guide (simple elegant black trousers/jeans and a monochromatic shirt/t-shirt with collar).

  • Am I guaranteed a job after the guide course?

Yes, if you successfully complete the course and pass all exams you will receive a certificate and a work agreement and you can start working as a guide with NGS. Your status within this work agreement is of a hired consultant - much like a freelancer. You agree to us NGS as the one providing you with assignaments and then you take the ones you can work. This however does not mean that NGS guarantees a certain amount of assignaments or volume of work, but that we will provide assignments as we get the requests from our clients. It is a partnership where we both do our best to thrive and grow together.  

  • What if I fail the exam?

It is very seldom that our students fail. That is because we invest a lot in our guides and we only select candidates that we believe would make good guides. So if it does happen that you fail one of the exams we will try to encourage you and coach you and help you take the exam again and pass it so that you can become even more confident. Sometimes you might fail one language of an array of many, one that you do not feel very confident with. In that case we might simply agree to reexamine you later or next season or simply decide together that it is enough with the languages you already have passed.

  • Will I be employed as a guide?
As a tour guide you will work on an assignment basis, much like a freelancer. NGS will be providing you with assignments throughout the season as we get requests from our clients. The working relationship with NGS is regulated by a wirtten agreement in which NGS is a client hiring the services of the guide as a consultant.
  • Do I have to pay tax?
Yes, you will have to pay tax, but NGS is legally required to automatically pay tax for you in accordance with your registered tax card. So that happens automatically, you just have to make sure you have the correct tax card registered with the tax office.
  • Do I get employee insurance?
As a guide working together with NGS you work simmilar to a freelancer providing services to a company. As such, regular employee insurance does not apply. However there is a Norwegian obligatory guide isurance that you are provided with covers medical emergencies when at work. If you are a resident of Norway then you have the standard health insurance provided by the social security system. At the same time if you are a EU/EEA citizen your European health insurance covers for most other health expenses while in Norway. Very often our guides coming from other countries to guide for the season get a travel insurance for convenience. 
  • Do I have the right for paid sick leave?
Working as a guide means that you will be working NGS as a consultant, a status simmilar to that of a freelancer and not as an employee. The right for paid sick leave does not apply in this case as you are also not obligated to take all assignaments you are offered.  
  • Do I have to stay and work the entire season?

Some of our guides only work for part of the season, some work through the year. What is important for us, is to be able to plan ahead. This means that what we agree to be the period when you are available to take on assignaments should also be the period when you stay in Bergen and work as a guide. It is also important to mention that NGS will prioritise guides who can and will work the entire season.

  • How much can I expect to work?

How much you can expect to work is a difficult question to answer as it depends on many factors. April and September tend to be less busy than May, June, July and August with June being the busiest month. We do not guarantee a minimum or maximum number of hours, however, most of our guides based in Bergen work on average around 20 to 25 days per month in high season. Duration of the tours varies between 2 and 9 hours. Should you guide outside of Bergen and paid travel time will come in addition to that. Some guides have it as a full-time job while others prefer the part-time approach, having other jobs on the side. On top of that, the number of assignments and earnings also depends on the languages you guide in, your skills, attitude and dedication. As a principle, guides that prioritize their work with NGS will be prioritized for assignments.

  • How much can I expect to earn?

It is difficult to calculate what you will earn. On average our guides earn between 50.000 NOK and 120.000 NOK before tax throughout the season. June, July and August present most opportunities for earning. The income depends on the languages you will be certified to guide in (there is greater demand for certain languages) and on your availability during the season. For example someone guiding full-time (100% available) in English, German and Italian will have a very high chance of earning more than 100.000 NOK throughout the season. At the same time taking a week holiday mid-June will significantly reduce your overall income. On top of that, there is an arbitrary income made by tips offered by guests that guides get at the end of the tours. Please note that it is against NGS policy to ask for tips. Of course, if you are offered you can politely accept.

  • Do you get tips as a guide in Norway?

Tips is a rather controversial subject in Norway and among guides. Many guides receive tips, many don’t. Some days you might double your salary with your tips while others you are not offered anything. It does not reflect the quality of your guiding but rather the culture of the guests and the of the agencies they use or quite simply chance. It is believed among guides that excellent guiding increases the chance for being offered tips but there is no statistical information on that. It very important to notice that it is against company policy to ask for tips and it is considered misconduct. But on the occasion that tips is offered, this can be politely accepted.  This will traditionally be divided with the bus driver 50%-50%.

  • Can I do other paid work while working as a guide?

Many guides choose to dedicate themselves fully to guiding while others choose to do it part time together with other jobs such as working in restaurants, bars, museums, freelancing their skills for translations, photography, web design or teaching different disciplines. Having a side income is perfectly possible, it is just important for us to communicate in advance about such options to have an agreement upon them so that we can plan in advance and have as much as possible a predictable season. The same principle applies in this situation as well: guides that prioritize their work with NGS will also be prioritized for assignments.

  • When do guides get paid?

Guides get paid for on the 15th every month for the work did the month before. For example: for all guide assignments worked in May a guide will be paid on the 15th of June. Please bear this in mind when applying to make sure you have sufficient funds to support yourself until your first income.

  • Do I need a mobile phone and Norwegian phone number? Do I get refunded for the costs of my calls/sms?

You definitely need a mobile phone to work as a guide. You will use it both to receive and confirm assignments as well as communicate in all situations when you need support or others need support during the tours. A nominal fee will be included in each assignment meant to cover the costs of the sms/calls.

  • Is there a uniform? Do I have to pay for it?

Yes, Norwegian Guide Service guides are required to wear a uniform: this consists of black trousers, dark colored shoes (preferably black) and a monochromatic shirt/polo T-shirt (preferably white or light blue). You will also receive a Norwegian Guide Service green Jacket to wear when you are on assignaments. At the start of your guidecourse you will be required to pay a deposit for the jacket of NOK 700 which you will get refunded after you deliver the jacket at the end of the season. In addition to that, you will receive a yellow visibility vest which you are obliged to wear when on the pier.  Some clients also require that we wear their logos or symbols either on a scarf, tie, pin or cary a bag with their logo and colours.

Bergen is a beautiful and clean city. And it stays so beautiful and clean by being washed by rain more often than most other cities...in the world. We recommend you therefore that you get prepared for the weather (rainboots, rain trousers, wool underwear etc.) 

  • What kind of tours will I be doing?

Almost anything from tailor-fit-as-you-go exclusive private tours for 2 people to guiding a bus with 50 guests through the scenic roads along the fjords, getting on two trains and stoping by a couple of waterfalls on the way back; from 2 hours city sightseeing tours, or 4 hours hiking tours in the mountains to 8 hours bus rides through the majestic Hardangerfjord with stops for lunch and to admire waterfalls. NGS with its main client, European Cruise Service almost exclusively with cruise ship passenger and offers a varied  array of tours to cover almost any budget and desired experience.

  • How can I practice and improve my guiding skills?

We will address this question more deeply in the guide training course. But in short, curiosity driven continuous study, self-awareness and self-evaluation as well as seeking and encouraging feedback from guests and more experienced guides are key. The better guide you become, the more job satisfaction you will experience, the more appreciated you will feel and the more you increase you chances to get notice and get more opportunities.

  • If I want to come and guide next summer with NGS, do I have to go through the selection process again?

No, you do not need to go through the selection process anew. Once you have received your certification you are qualified to guide for NGS for the future. But this does not mean you are done with your development as a guide. The more experience you accumulate the more that enhances your abilities and the more deliberate practice you put into it the faster you will become an outstanding guide.

C - questions frequently asked by international applicants

  • Do I need a work permit?

If you are a citizen of a EU/EEA country then you are allowed to visit and work for 3 months. After 3 months you have to register with the police office. It is your responsibility to check if you need a work permit. https://www.udi.no/en/

  • Do I need a tax card?

Yes you do. You can apply for one in Bergen at the Tax Office (Skateetaten Nonnesetergaten 4) here is what you need to do: http://www.skatteetaten.no/en/person/Tax-deduction-card-and-advance-tax/Foreign-employees/i-will-be-working-in-norway--what-do-i-need-to-do/

  • Will I have to pay tax? And if so, how much?

Yes, you will need to pay Norwegian Income Tax. This usually amounts to 20% to 36% of the income. However, if you over-pay tax during the summer, this will be refunded the year after. You can calculate your tax in advance following this link: http://www.skatteetaten.no/en/person/Tax-deduction-card-and-advance-tax/tax-calculation/

  • Do I need a visa to come to Norway?

Citizens of Nordic and EU/EEA countries do not need a visa to come to Norway. It is however your responsibility to check if you do need a visa to come to Norway. You can do that here: https://www.udi.no/en/want-to-apply/

  • Does Norwegian Guide Service organise accommodation?

You are yourself responsible to find accommodation. We strongly advise you to find accommodation in the city center. Our guides have experienced that this makes life and work much easier. But as long as you are consistently punctual to all  assignments you can choose yourself where best to live.

  • How do I find a place to stay in Bergen?

Most people looking for a place to rent use websites such as www.hybel.no or www.finn.no

  • How much does it cost to rent in Bergen?

Prices vary depending on location, size and standard, but in Bergen City Center you can find a room in a shared flat for as little as 3700 NOK and as much as 7000 NOK. The average is around 5000 NOK. On top of that you should usually calculate electricity costs.

  • How much would an expenses budget add up to while living in Bergen?

Budgeting is an art in itself and it is difficult to predict how much you would need. But you should consider a minimum of 7.500 NOK to cover living costs (accommodation, electricity, internet, phone etc. ) and food (home cooked).

D - "... can I still apply?" questions

Can I still apply? questions      

  • I have worked with a different guide agency in the past. Can I still apply?

Yes, we welcome guides that have worked with sister companies within our network. You might be entitled to skip some steps of the training process. For those who have worked with Bergen Guide Agencies we have special policies. Please address this in the application.

  • Deadline has passed. Can I still apply?

If the deadline for applications has passed you can no longer apply, but you can still subscribe to our mailing list and we will let you know as soon as we open a new round of applications.

  • I am not available throughout the whole season 2018. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply. But is just as well to keep in mind that those who are available for the whole season have an advantage in the recruitment process.

  • I do not have sufficient funds to support myself during the guide course and training until my first salary. Can I still apply?

After the course you will start working and the first salary you will get will be on the 15th, the month after. It is your responsibility to provide for yourself during the guide course and training. If you cannot manage this season, we hope you can try again the next season. 

  • I do not have any previous work experience. Can I still apply?

Not having work experience does not mean you cannot become a fantastic guide. But in the recruitment process we do ask for you to prove that you have experience to being committed to work as an employment or volunteer in a charitable or non-governmental organization and that you have people that can endorse you as a worker.

  • I do not live in Bergen. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply. But you do have to be in Bergen and available for the on-site practical training so that you can get certified and then start working as a guide.

  • I do not live in the city center. Can I still apply?

Yes, although we have experienced that guides living outside the city center have a higher chance of being late because of trouble with their means of transportation (bus, tram etc.) If you can comfortably walk to the pier you are better off.

  • I do not have a passport and I live outside of Norway. Can I still apply?

You have to make sure to obtain a passport by the time you travel to Norway. Our guides who have come to Norway and did not have a passport,  have had difficulties with the paperwork (opening a bank account, getting a tax card etc.)

  • I am not a EU/EEA citizen. Can I still apply?

Unfortunately not, unless you already reside in Europe and have the appropriate documentation to live and work in Norway. It is your responsibility to check that you are entitled to live and work in Norway. Check via https://www.udi.no/en/

  • I don’t currently live in Bergen. If I get invited for an interview how will that go?

In that case we will have an interview via Skype. Please make sure to have the latest version of the software downloaded on your computer or smartphone by the interview. You will then be given a Skype username and password to log-in and we can meet and talk.

  • I don’t have a visa for Norway. Can I still apply?

You have to be entitled to work and live in Norway by the time you apply. This includes the visa. It is your responsibility to check that you are entitled to live and work in Norway. Check via https://www.udi.no/en/

  • I don’t have a work permit for Norway. Can I still apply?

You have to be entitled to work and live in Norway by the time you apply. This includes the application for a work permit. It is your responsibility to check that you are entitled to live and work in Norway. Check via https://www.udi.no/en/

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