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How to become a Nature Site Guide (NQF2)

Curious how you can become a CATHSSETA Nature Site Guide (NQF2), also known as field guide?


Field guiding is one of the most rewarding and fascinating careers you can pursue. Spending every day outside, learning about our natural world and sharing your knowledge with guests. Of course it's not always easy - this is a career after all - but it is so rewarding. If you're interested in becoming a qualified field guide, or safari guide, this blog should help explain the process.


What kinds of standards exist for field guiding?

To start, field guiding in South Africa is standardised by CATHSSETA (Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority). CATHSSETA-accredited training providers, like Bushwise, provide training programs for students to become qualified field guides. At Bushwise we use the International Field Guide Association (IFGA) standards in our training curriculum.


To become a registered CATHSSETA Nature Site Guide (NQF2), you must:

  1. Pass your theory exam through an accredited training provider like Bushwise

  2. Pass your practical assessment (game drive) with an assessor (included in your in-person Bushwise course)

  3. Secure your CATHSSETA certificate

  4. Make sure your first aid certificate is updated and of the correct level

  5. Get your professional driving permit (PrDP)  for over 21s only

  6. Register with the National Department of Tourism (NDP)


How to get started

You would firstly need to complete your CATHSSETA Nature Site Guide NQF2 theory exam and pass. You can do this through a training provider, like Bushwise. There are various training providers offering courses from 2 months to 3 years. For example, we offer a 60-day Safari Guide course and our signature 6 or 12 month International Field Guide course, where you will get essential in-person practical experience to become qualified.


Getting the practical side done

The second component of your field guide assessment is to then be declared competent with practical skills. You need to be assessed and moderated by a qualified assessor. In simple terms, can you drive a game viewer, with your guests while explaining and educating them on their surroundings. This assessment is included in all of our in-person courses.


All field guides must also have a valid (current) recognised First Aid certificate. At Bushwise, we offer qualification in Basic Wilderness First Aid (Unit Standard 119567).

PrDp – Professional Driving permit

If a field guide is going to be transporting passengers (guests/visitors) in motor-vehicle, they must be in possession of a valid PrDp. The PrDp is valid for two years and thus needs to be obtained. According to the law, in order to attain a PrDp a guide has to be 21 years of age.


If a learner qualifies and registers with National Department of Tourism and s/he is under the age of 21, the guided experiences conducted by such a guide can only be by means of walking, bicycle, canoe, horse, and any other means other than driving a motor-vehicle of any kind with people. It is important that learners who are striving to be guides are aware that they cannot conduct guided experiences while driving a motor-vehicle until they have turned 21 years of age and then attain a PrDp license.


CATHSSETA certification

Once an assessment is received and the member is declared competent, their achievements are then loaded on to the CATHSSETA database. If the member has submitted all the correct documentation (CATHSSETA application form and certified ID) it will be sent to CATHSSETA so that they may issue a certificate. Bushwise does not issue CATHSSETA certificates. Those that chose to do their training through a training provider usually assists with this. CATHSSETA only print certificates 4 times a year – If achievements are loaded after a particular quarterly cut-off date it can take another 4 months for CATHSSETA to issue a certificate number.


How to register with NDT

Provincial Registrars are appointed in each of the nine provinces to register tourist guides. In order to be registered as a tourist guide in South Africa, a person must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. Be a South African citizen or be in possession of a valid work permit;

  2. Have undergone training with a CATHSSETA-accredited training provider or any other accredited institution which offers programs recognized by SAQA;

  3. Be in possession of a valid first aid certificate from institution recognized by Department of Labour;

  4. Pay a registration fee;

  5. Include four passport-size photos in your application;

  6. Submit a completed and signed registration form and the code of conduct and ethics upon registration.


It is important that all accredited training providers make sure that any prospective learner (potential course attendee) is fully aware of the legal requirements pertaining to transporting people in a motor-vehicle for guiding purposes and that their age (if under 21) could prohibit them from employment if the job requirements include conducting guided experiences that involve driving a motor-vehicle.


You can also begin your career by joining an online course from the comfort of your own home.


Below are some very helpful links on the topic:

We hope this helps, and good luck!


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