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Architecture Tour Docent

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, CA

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Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Job Details

Salk Docents are ambassadors to professional architects, scientific visitors, and the general public.  The docent is expected to have knowledge of the history of Salk Institute, the buildings and architecture, architect Louis Kahn, and the founder, Dr. Jonas Salk.  The Salk Docent guides assigned visitors through the Salk campus on a pre-determined path, answers questions, and describes the current research of the Institute.  The docents are expected to work with Salk Security, Enivornmental Health and Safety, and the Community Engagement teams to ensure guest safety and to uphold Salk guidelines.


  • Complete docent training as assigned by the Community Engagement Specialist.
    • Shadow each current docent on general docent-led tours, 5 hours.
    • Watch and read the required background information, including, but not limited to My Architect, Cathedrals of Culture, and Shot Felt Round the World.
    • Lead three supervised tours: 1 with current docent and manager, and 2 with with public guests and manager.
    • Total paid training is 8 hours at $25 per hour, total of $200.
  • Docents can sign up for tours as it suits their schedule. To remain active, docents must lead at least 2 tours a months and stay current on tour script, Salk research, and tour guidelines.
  • Complete the necessary Institute trainings with DEI, EHS, SEC, and FS and attend bi-yearly trainings assigned by program specialist.
  • Manage assigned tour tasks, which include, but are not limited to, the following: meet tour attendees and make introductions, check in tour attendees with tour badge, lead tour group along designated tour route (or ADA route) while discussing the history, architecture and science of Salk Institute, ensure guests stay with the group, report all safety and security risks to Salk security and program manager, collect tour badges and remind guests of Salk visitor policies, and attend trainings about the program and the Institute.
  • Must be knowledgable of the Institute’s safety plans in the event of an emergency. The docent is responsible for leading the tour group to the correct meeting location in the event of an Institute emergency.
  • Performs other related duties as assigned by management.


  • This job has no supervisory responsibilities.


  • Public speaking experience through volunteer or paid positions.
  • Associate's Degree (AA) or equivalent from a two-year college or technical school, or six months to one year related experience and/or training, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Certificates, licenses and registrations required:
  • Computer skills required: Microsoft Office
  • Other skills required: Background in Architecture or Scientific Research preferred.


  • Adaptability - Adapts to changes in the work environment; Manages competing demands; Changes approach or method to best fit the situation; Able to deal with frequent change, delays, or unexpected events.
  • Customer Service - Manages difficult or emotional customer situations; Responds promptly to customer needs; Solicits customer feedback to improve service; Responds to requests for service and assistance; Meets commitments.
  • Dependability - Follows instructions, responds to management direction; Takes responsibility for own actions; Keeps commitments; Commits to long hours of work when necessary to reach goals; Completes tasks on time or notifies appropriate person with an alternate plan.
  • Interpersonal Skills - Focuses on solving conflict, not blaming; Maintains confidentiality; Listens to others without interrupting; Keeps emotions under control; Remains open to others' ideas and tries new things.
  • Oral Communication - Speaks clearly and persuasively in positive or negative situations; Listens and gets clarification; Responds well to questions; Demonstrates group presentation skills; Participates in meetings.
  • Professionalism - Approaches others in a tactful manner; Reacts well under pressure; Treats others with respect and consideration regardless of their status or position; Accepts responsibility for own actions; Follows through on commitments.
  • Safety and Security - Observes safety and security procedures; Determines appropriate action beyond guidelines; Reports potentially unsafe conditions; Uses equipment and materials properly.

The expected pay range for this position is $100.00 per tour. 
Salk Institute provides pay ranges representing its good faith estimate of what the institute reasonably expects to pay for a position. The pay offered to a selected candidate will be determined based on factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the qualifications of the selected candidate, departmental budget availability, internal equity, geographic location, and external market pay for comparable jobs.


  • Continually required to stand
  • Continually required to walk
  • Occasionally required to sit
  • Frequently required to utilize hand and finger dexterity
  • Occasionally required to climb, balance, bend, stoop, kneel or crawl
  • Continually required to talk or hear
  • Occasionally required to taste or smell
  • Occasionally exposure to wet and/or humid conditions  (non-weather)
  • Frequently exposure to outside weather conditions
  • While performing the duties of this job, the noise level in the work environment is usually moderate
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include: Depth perception and ability to adjust focus

The above is intended to describe the general content of and requirements for the performance of this job.  It is not to be construed as an exhaustive statement of duties, responsibilities or physical requirements.  Nothing in this job description restricts management’s right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this job at any time. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

The Salk Institute is an internationally renowned research institution that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. We seek bold and interactive leaders passionate about exploring new frontiers in science. Our collaborative community embraces diverse perspectives and unique life experiences, fostering innovation, and a sense of belonging. Together, we strive to improve the wellbeing of humanity through groundbreaking research.


    Working at Salk Institute for Biological Studies

    The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused on both discovery and mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

    Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

    Salk Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Statement

    The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is committed to providing equal access to opportunities for students, employees, applicants for employment and other persons.

    Our policies prohibit harassment or unlawful discrimination against individuals on the basis of sex, gender, marital or parental status, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, medical conditions/disabilities related to pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation age, ancestry, color, religion (including religious dress and grooming practices), family and/or medical care leave status, disability (mental or physical), registered domestic partner status, legally protected medical condition, genetic information, military or veteran status (disabled veteran, veteran of the Vietnam era, other covered veteran status), national origin (including language use restrictions and possession of a driver’s license), race, religion or any other classification protected by local, state or federal laws.

    The Salk Institute participates in the E-Verify program.

    Reasonable accommodation is available for qualified individuals with disabilities and for individuals with religious restrictions.


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