How to become a Field Guide (NQF2)
Updated: Nov 3
Curious how you can become a FGASA Nature Site Guide (NQF2), previously known as Apprentice Field Guide or Level 1?
There are a few different options on how to get your qualification and where to do your training, however this is a simple list of what is needed to become a qualified field guide. There are a few ways to become a CATHSSETA Nature Site Guide (NQF2); at Bushwise we use the FGASA syllabus and requirements.
In this blog we’ll talk about the things you need to be a registered FGASA Nature Site Guide (NQF2):
Pass your FGASA theory exam either online with FGASA or through a training provider
Pass your practical assessment (game drive) with a qualified assessor
Secure your CATHSSETA certificate (FGASA can help you with this)
Make sure your first aid certificate is updated and of the correct level
Get your professional driving permit (PrDP) for over 21s only
Register with the National Department of Tourism (NDP)
How to get started
You would firstly need to complete your FGASA Nature Site Guide NQF2 theory exam and pass. You can do this online direct with FGASA or 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 23- or 50-week Professional Field Guide course, where you will get essential in-person practical experience to become qualified.
NB: All exams are done in English so you would need to be able to read and write in English.
Getting the practical side done
A Field Guide is responsible for taking paying guests on Game Drives. Basically, you need to be able to drive, so having a drivers license is key. The second component of your FGASA NQF2 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.
Safety, safety, safety!
All Field guides need to have their First Aid certificate. This needs to be 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.
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/FGASA application form and certified ID) it will be sent to CATHSSETA so that they may issue a certificate. FGASA 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:
be a South African citizen or be in possession of a valid work permit;
have undergone training with a CATHSSETA-accredited training provider or any other accredited institution which offers programs recognized by SAQA;
be in possession of a valid first aid certificate from institution recognized by Department of Labour;
pay a registrationn fee of R240 (Renewable every 3 years)
Include four passport-size photos in your application;
submit a completed and signed registration form and the code of conduct and ethics upon registration.
It is important that all FGASA endorsed 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.
Below are some very helpful links on the topic:
Tourism Tattler: A Brief History on Tourist Guiding in South Africa
South African government at tourism.gov: Are you a registered tourist guide?
Bushwise Field Guides: FGASA courses and going from NQF2 to NQF4
We hope this helps, and good luck!