A field guide job is right for you if you’re passionate about wildlife, you love learning about the natural world, you’re comfortable hosting and interacting with all kinds of people, and being outside makes you happy.
There are many different kinds of outdoors guides. In South Africa, the most common are field guides (also called nature guides or safari guides), adventure guides and culture guides. So what is a field guide and what kinds of field guide jobs are available? Let’s dive into the details.
What is a field guide?
Field guides are ambassadors of the natural world, serving as the first point of contact between tourists and wild spaces. They facilitate human-nature interaction by sharing their knowledge with guests on guided experiences. Field guides host visitors to lodges and reserves on game drives, bush walks and other activities. They interpret the elements of nature and wildlife for their guests.
To successfully do their job, field guides must be knowledgeable about ecosystems and the living and non-living things found there. They promote conservation while instilling an appreciation for nature, from the smallest insect to the largest mammal.
What kinds of field guide jobs are there?
There are different types of field guide jobs, depending mostly on qualifications and experience. Entry-level field guides are currently known as Apprentice Field Guides in FGASA terminology (also called Level 1 or FGASA NQF2).
As field guides work and gain hours, animal encounters, and experience, they may take on additional responsibilities. The most common job titles are field guide, safari guide, nature guide, senior field guide and head field guide.
Bushwise provides recruitment services for all its students and alumni to find the best field guide job for them. Contact us directly to take advantage of the Bushwise recruitment service. You can also find advertisements for field guide jobs on many job boards online, directly on lodge and reserve websites, and on FGASA’s job portal.
What does a field guide do?
A field guide job is first and foremost hosting visitors, but there are other responsibilities as well. They might assist park rangers or game rangers doing conservation work. They could also be responsible for administration at the lodge, handling reservations, guest requests and more. Field guides in protected areas like Kruger National Park might have additional responsibilities including conservation or camp management. Field guide duties depend largely on the particular lodge, reserve or park where the guide is based. Entry-level field guides will often shadow or assist senior field guides until they’re ready to guide on their own. This is also why the first level in FGASA field guiding is called Apprentice Field Guide – even with a qualification, you must gain practical knowledge and skills before becoming a fully-fledged field guide. The job is also very physically demanding and requires long hours; field guides typically rotate working multiple weeks in a row with a week or two off between cycles. Overall, field guide jobs are extremely rewarding and exciting. Field guides meet people from all over the world who are interested in wildlife and nature, and share their specialised knowledge with them. Field guides see amazing animal interactions and observe interesting behaviour. While it may be challenging, it’s also fulfilling.
How do I become a field guide?
The best way to train for a field guide job is by taking a field guide course, or FGASA course, through a training provider like Bushwise. Bushwise offers FGASA-accredited training through our Bushwise Professional Field Guide course. Through this in-person and campus-based course, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to excel in this industry.
Through this course you can get all the certifications you need to qualify for field guide jobs, including:
FGASA Apprentice Field Guide, NQF2 certificate
CATHSSETA Nature Guiding, NQF2 certificate
Basic Wilderness First Aid – US ID: 119567: Perform Basic Life Support and First Aid Procedures
SASSETA Firearm Proficiency certificate, including:
knowledge of the firearm control act, unit standard: 117705
handle and use of manually operated rifle or carbine, unit standard: 119651
handle and use of manually operated rifle or carbine for business purpose, unit standard: 123519.
Cybertracker Track and Sign and Trailing qualification (CATHSSETA)
A course like this is the best way to jump-start your career as a field guide in South Africa, elsewhere in Africa or abroad. Train with the best and enter the industry well prepared to succeed, backed by our exclusive employment guarantee.