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How to become a Field Guide!

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Have you been on a Game Drive before? Maybe you have yet to experience one! Either way, it is an unbelievable experience and may even alter the course of your life like it has done for past Bushwise Field Guide Students. Past Bushwise students, who have been on a game drive decided then and there that this is what they want to do and took the steps towards realizing this dream!!!

You may or may not know, but the person responsible for taking you on this game drive and providing you with all the information on a Game Drive is known as a Field Guide.

But how does one become a Field Guide? Where do you start? What must you study? We are asked this question all the time and to help here are some helpful tips!

Of course, it always helps to have an interest in nature and if you took biology or science in school you already have an advantage.

  1. Firstly you would need to find a relevant CATHSSETA Accredited Qualification or Skills Programme. CATHSSETA (Cultural Activities, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports) are the Sector Education and Training Authority’s (SETA) appointed body that regulates and administers qualifications for the Field Guiding industry. They set the standards and the curriculum, they were formerly known as THETA. Qualifications or Skills Programmes (shortened version of the full qualifications) can be gained from most of the reputable Training Providers OR from FGASA directly. FGASA stands for the Field Guiding Association of South Africa.

  2. Ensure that your Training Provider offers a CATHSSETA Accredited Assessment as part of their programme and issues successful graduates with a CATHSSETA Accredited Qualification or Skills Programme Certificate.

  3. It is also very important to note that you must be 21 or older to guide. Technically you cannot register and work as a legal field guide until aged 21, however you can get your FGASA Qualification before the age of 21. This is stated in the Act, so it is the law. You will need to obtain a Public Drivers Permit (PDP). This document is obtainable from any Police Station and thereafter you need to go to the local Traffic Department. To gain this permit you simply require a valid South African driver’s license that has not been endorsed in anyway. It may take between 3 and 6 months to obtain this document, so plan ahead. PDP’s will only be issued to persons aged 21 and older.

  4. You need a have avalid First Aid certificate. Some Training Providers offer the First Aid Certificate as part of their programmes, but most don’t so it is important to see what is included in the course you chose. When selecting a First Aid Training Provider ensure that their qualification is accepted by DEAT.

  5. Finally, become a legally registered Field Guide in South Africa, it is necessary to register with The National Department of Tourism (NDT).

The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) is an NGO that seeks to improve, set and maintain guiding standards in South Africa and the sub-region. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) is the South African Governmental authority that governs and regulates the guiding industry in South Africa. All guides seeking to work professionally in South Africa need to have at least a Level 1 (NQF 2) Nature / Field Guide Qualification and they need to be registered with DEAT in order to operate legally.

All guide courses and qualifications / certificates need to be accredited by DEAT in order for the qualification to be formally recognized and accepted.  These courses need to meet the requirements of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and DEAT will accredit training curriculums, training institutions, trainers, assessors and moderators that work within the parameters of the NQF.

Before you start your journey, please make sure that whatever provider you chose has the above set requirements to ensure that you get what you pay for and have a good start to your new career.

This career is exceptionally rewarding and the quality of life you will live doing this job is rarely matched! Spending hours in the bush, watching animals and educating your guests of the wonders of the natural world is something very valuable. The sights you see, the people you meet and the experiences you share doing this job will be fulfilling and gratifying and something you will never forget!

Find out more about Bushwise courses here.


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