Kapi‘olani Community College

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Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC) presents an updated certification program to the Professional Standards Tour Certification Program originally established in 1993 by the Hawai‘i State Tourism Training Council in collaboration with KCC faculty and staff. This certification recognizes that a professional tour guide has met the required knowledge, skills, and competencies that align with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Professional Standards (view document here). This program is sanctioned by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and KCC owns all copyright on developed curriculum and materials.

Employment Training Fund (ETF)

For eligible employers, ETF funding may be applicable to your employees. Please check out Department of Labor & Industrial Relations’ Workforce Development Division (DLIR-WDD) website and brochure.

Contact

Heather Robertson
Workforce Development Specialist
Phone: 808 734-9154
Email: hr8@hawaii.edu

 

Certification for Hawai‘i’s Professional Tour Guides

In order to obtain a Certification for Hawai‘i’s Professional Tour Guides, you must successfully complete a rigorous two-part exam.

Certification Exam Registration

**There will be NO refunds on a failed examination.
Register here
Am I eligible to pursue certification?

You must provide proof and/or verification of the following:

• Current employment with a licensed Hawai‘i tour company
Or documentation showing ownership of a licensed Hawai‘i tour company

How long is the certification exam?

The certification exam will take 4 hours.  Part 1 is a knowledge exam (2 hours) consisting of multiple-choice questions on Hawaii’s history, language, and culture, as well as servicing global customers, relating to the visitor industry.  During Part 2 of the exam (2 hours), you will design and deliver an island specific sample tour based on customer preferences and interests, accurate information about Hawaii’s history, culture, and language using learned communication, interpretation, and storytelling skills.

What are the exam expectations?
  • Part 1-Take and pass the knowledge exam with a minimum 75% score
  • Part 2-Design, deliver and pass a sample tour with a minimum 75% score
What is the best way to prepare for the exam?
For all Tour Drivers and Tour Guides, we recommend the following training path, here.
How long is the certification valid?
The Certification for Hawai‘i’s Professional Tour Guides is valid for 2 years. Upon completion of the two-year period, candidates are eligible to apply for recertification after providing evidence of continued employment or ownership of a licensed Hawai‘i tour company.
Are there funding opportunities for my certification?

Yes. We are an approved training provider of the State of Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) Workforce Development Division. Employment Training Funds (ETF) are approved for this certification exam and the courses that are offered to prepare for the exam.  Please visit the DLIR website here and submit the requested form through your employer.

Recommended Work Flow

We recommended the following training path for tour guides to prepare for the certification exam.

Introduction to Hawai’i’s Visitor Industry

2 hours

For those who are new to Hawai‘i’s tourism and hospitality industry. More here

Ho'okipa Me Ke Aloha

8 hours

A culture-rich learning experience based on Hawaiian language and culture, this course is designed for participants to develop an appreciation for our host culture and traditions while servicing visitors from around the globe. More here

Know Your Island: Oahu

4 hours

How much do we really know about the island we call “home”? Learn to share accurate information and stories about our island’s unique history and significance with your guests, visitors and/or customers. More here

Certification Exam

4 hours

A rigorous two-part exam that assesses your knowledge of the courses listed above and requires you to design and deliver an Island specific custom tour. More here

Foundations of Hawai'i

8 hours

Lucky we live Hawai’i! Many of us welcome friends, family, colleagues and visitors from all over the world to our island paradise. But, how much do we really know about our host culture? More here

Servicing the Global Customer

6 hours

Hawai‘i is known as a “dream travel destination” for people from all over the globe. Learn to demonstrate cultural awareness and appropriate customer service standards when dealing with diverse customers. More here

Communicating With Impact

8 hours

Enhance important communication skills such as interpretation and storytelling when sharing stories about Hawai‘i. Design customized and engaging tours for your visitors. More here

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it correct that if I am not currently employed by a tour company, that I cannot take the exam?
Currently, only candidates who are currently employed by a tour company are eligible to enroll for the certification exam. Candidates who are not currently employed will receive a Certificate of Professional Development that indicates they are eligible to take the exam upon being offered employment by a tour company.
What if I am not working for a tour company but want to take all the classes, can I get certified?
All classes within the training program are open to any interested learner in the community, regardless of profession or title. Learners who complete the entire training program will receive a Certificate of Professional Development, but they will only be eligible to enroll for the certification exam upon being offered employment by a tour company.
I’m not a tour guide, and I only want to take one class for my own interests. Can I do that?
Absolutely! All classes within continuing education are open to any interested learner in the community.
My employer provides its own training to tour drivers, but I want the certification for my own benefit. Can I just enroll for the exam?
Yes, while we strongly recommend the training program to increase chances of successfully passing the exam, any learner who feels that they are able to pass the exam in accordance with Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Professional Standards can enroll for the exam, however there will be no refunds granted for failed examinations.
I am familiar with most topics in the training program, and only need one or two courses before I enroll for the exam. Can I do that?
Yes, while we strongly recommend the training program to increase chances of successfully passing the exam, any learner who feels that they are able to pass the exam in accordance with HTA’s Professional Standards can enroll for the exam, however there will be no refunds granted for failed examinations.
What happens if I have the old certification?

For individuals certified prior to July 1, 2016, the following recertification criteria apply:

  • Anyone certified on or before August 31, 2015 will need to take the full certification exam again in order to comply with updated Industry Professional Standards.
How is this different from the previous program?
This new program focuses on competency based outcomes that align with the updated Professional Standards established by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The previous program required completion of training, while the new program recognizes that prior experience and education may have readily prepared candidates for certification. While there is a recommended training program, any candidate who feels that they are able to pass the exam in accordance with HTA’s Professional Standards can just enroll for the certification exam, however there will be no refunds granted for failed examinations.
Can I just take the exam?
Yes, while we strongly recommend the training program to increase chances of successfully passing the exam, any learner who feels that they are able to pass the exam in accordance with HTA’s Professional Standards can enroll for the exam, however there will be no refunds granted for failed examinations.
If I do not pass the exam, do I have to repeat classes?
No, candidates who fail the exam can re-enroll for the exam at a later date. There are no refunds granted for failed examinations.
Is this training program only available at Kapi'olani Community College?
Currently, the training program will be available through Kapi‘olani Community College during Fall 2016 with plans to start offering the program at other UHCC campuses statewide in Spring 2017.
The Ho‘okipa Me Ke Aloha classes have made a difference in the level of customer service with our transportation company. We were very fortunate to collaborate and design a customized hospitality course with KCC. The course stressed the employee’s role or “kuleana” in the JTB organization or “ohana”, and the role of the specific company, such as Travel Plaza Transportation. The focus on their role instilled in them pride in their company and in themselves. That pride in turn enhanced their performance in giving good customer service which in turn increased the number of compliments and reduced the number of complaints The instructor’s expertise in Hawaiian culture and language is outstanding. His desire to share information is contagious and our staff have used his “stories” to share with their customers, which in turn creates an enjoyable experience for our visitors. Lena Young

Corporate Director of Operations & Human Resources, JTB Hawaii, Inc.

All components of the (State of Hawai‘i Certification for Tour Drivers and Guides) training were well organized and extremely relevant. I was particularly impressed with the knowledge and teaching skills of Ms. Jaime (Uluwehi) Hopkins, although all instructors were good. I learned a lot from Ms. Hopkins who provided excellent insights into Hawaiian language and culture. Paul Heintz

Former Director of Education, Training and Evaluation-Discover Hawai'i Tours and D.O.E. Teacher

For Hospitality and Tour Companies

Drop us a line and speak to one of our representatives about Certification for your employees.
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