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  • Writer's pictureBushwise

One of the best ways to get FGASA

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

What is FGASA?

FGASA stands for the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa has set guiding standards for many years and continues to maintain the highest standards within the guiding industry. Its is an accredited provider with the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport, Sector Education Training Authority (CATHSSETA).  

About FGASA?

At FGASA, our aim is to promote a high standard of guiding.  Becoming a Nature Guide means that you are a spokesman and ambassador for the natural world.  As such Nature Guiding should be regarded as a profession and a career path during which you are constantly broadening your knowledge, and then imparting this knowledge to your guests.   They should leave having had an eye-opening, educational and truly superb experience of the natural wonders of where you live and work. 

How do I register?

There are two ways you can go about getting a FGASA qualification.   You can either join one of the courses offered by a FGASA endorsed training provider like Bushwise (this would be the best option), or you can study on your own.

 You will need to register as a member of FGASA before being able to obtain any qualification.  You can register as a member with FGASA at any time during the year directly with FGASA or through your training provider should you go this route.

If you join the Bushwise course, all the FGASA fees, manuals, books, registration fees and exam fees are included.

Please note in order to obtain a FGASA qualification, you will need to be able to speak, read and write English.   All exams and study material are in English, as this is the language used in the nature guiding industry.

Apprentice field guide information & material included.

The Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) is the basic qualification which everyone needs in order to register with NDT (National Department of Tourism) as a legal guide.  This is your entry-level qualification which will then allow you to apply for work as a nature guide.

These books will prepare you to be able to write the NQF2 theory. All the modules are covered by the one exam, each exam varies.

  1. Your pack will include a logbook and an information book about FGASA and the different FGASA qualifications (at present Nature guiding and Marine guiding). 

  2. NQF2 study material which is a training manual consisting of 17 different modules (including  taxonomy, insects, birds, grasses, trees etc.)

  3. A guiding skills manual on guiding etiquette and a workbook used together with the training manual to help you study.

A Bushwise student studies for a FGASA qualification outside at one of our campuses.

What topics make up the Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) modules & syllabus?

Module number | MODULE NAME

1.      Creating a guided nature experience

2.      Geology

3.      Climate & Weather

4.      Astronomy

5.      Ecology

6.      Biomes

7.      Taxonomy

8.      Plants-Trees, Shrubs, Forbs & Grasses

9.      Arthropods

10.     Fish

11.     Amphibians

12.     Reptiles

13.     Birds

14.     Mammals

15.     Animal behaviour

16.    Conservation & Habitat Management

17.     Historical Human Habitation

What is made up of the complete Apprentice Field Guide qualification?

In order to obtain any of the FGASA qualifications (Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2), you will need to complete a written theory exam as well as then complete a practical assessment/exam.  You cannot obtain any FGASA qualification without writing a theory exam as well as doing a practical assessment.  

Theory Exam:

75% is needed in order to pass the theory exam (all the modules are covered by one exam).

If you are studying through a training provider, you will write your FGASA theory exam at the end of your course.

If you are not going to attend a course (i.e. self-study), you will need to write your exam at one of our national sittings. You need to be a member of FGASA for at least 2 months before you will be able to write the Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) exam at a national sitting. There are 4 exam sittings in the year – February, April, July or October.  

Practical Assessment:

The practical assessment is NOT the same as practical work experience. You do not need to have any prior practical working experience in order to do the practical assessment. You will, however, need to have a broad knowledge of the area in which you are going to be conducting your practical assessment.

Before being practically assessed/examined for any level:

 You need to be a paid-up member of FGASA

You will need to have a valid first-aid certificate

You will need to have handed in your workbook to the assessor/training provider

The assessment for the Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) is only one day and it consists of taking the assessor on a guided nature experience, in a limited geographical area (either with or without paying clients). If you are not on a course with an endorsed training provider, then your practical assessment/exam should be done either in the area you are currently working in or the area that you will be considering working in, as it is a site-specific assessment. If you are not on a course with an endorsed training provider, you will need to contact the assessor directly to organise your assessment ( and payment for your practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does NOT come via the FGASA office. 

You will also need to submit your Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) workbook to the assessor before being allowed to be assessed. The practical will be explained to you in detail by the assessor/training provider before doing your practical, in order that you can prepare yourself for the assessment.

Both components are included in your Bushwise course.

Previous Experience & further FGASA qualifications:

You do not need any experience in order to obtain an Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) qualification as this is an entry level qualification allowing you to look for employment once you have qualified.   We also do not RPL any previous qualifications. You do however need to have a passion for nature and the outdoors and good with people. As a field guide your main job is working with guests so people skills are an important aspect of the job.

How do I progress with FGASA Field Guide (NQF4), previously known as Level 2 FGASA qualifications?

Before you can move onto the FGASA Field Guide (NQF4), you need to have 260 days’ worth of guiding experience written and signed off in your logbook (over a period of a year).  However, even if you do not have the 260 days of guiding experience you can still purchase learning materials in order to start working on the workbooks. During the Bushwise course, we teach up to this level, thus making you more knowledgeable and prepared to take on this qualification after your 260 days of guiding experience. This can be accumulated during your 6-month placement already and continue when you start working after your placement.

Your logbook must be sent into the office in order to be eligible for the theory exam, and your workbook (portfolio of evidence) must be submitted to the assessor. 

How do I progress with Professional Field Guide, previously known as Level 3 FGASA qualifications?

Before you can proceed to Professional Field Guide (previously Level 3) you need to have 520 days’ worth of guiding experience logged. 

You can only do the SKS qualifications once you are a Professional Field Guide

What is the FGASA Professional Special Knowledge and Skills (Dangerous Game) Guide?

The FGASA Professional Special Knowledge and Skills (Dangerous Game) Guide [SKS(DG)] conducts an advanced guided nature experience on foot to view potentially dangerous animals having accumulated the FGASA required guiding experience on foot in areas with all the Big 5 dangerous animal species.

You need to have at least an Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) in order to do the FGASA Trails Guide qualification.  You will also need to already be working in a dangerous game area, as you must submit a logbook to be signed off by a FGASA mentor for your back-up and lead trails guide assessment.

People often have questions about what is FGASA and how can FGASA help me in my wildlife career? These students are walking in the bush to earn a FGASA trails guide qualification.

Studying with a training provider?

Your first option in obtaining a FGASA qualification is to go on a course with a training provider/school endorsed by FGASA – they recommended this option.  This is great for people with little to no knowledge of South African wildlife and for people who feel they can’t learn on their own. By attending a course you not only attend daily lectures to assist you for the theory exam, but you will also gain a lot of practical knowledge regarding all the different aspects of the bush, which will be beneficial for your practical exam, as well as providing you with some experience.  You will also be trained by experienced staff with working backgrounds and knowledge on what is expected of a nature guide, working at a lodge, who will be taking paying guests on a guided experience within the bush. The Bushwise trainers combined have over 50 years of working experience.

Each training provider operates individually (independently of FGASA and each other).  Training providers offer various courses from those with the minimum requirement of 55 days, up to those which are yearlong, with 6 months theory and 6 months practical placement (any courses less than 55 days are not endorsed by FGASA).  Students who attend a course must write the FGASA exams after completion of the course in order to get the FGASA qualification. The advantage of being on a course is that you will write your theory exam at the end of the course as well as having your practical assessment done, and providing you pass, you will leave the course having obtained an Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) qualification.

What distance learning options are there?

Your other option is to study on your own.  If you choose the distance learning option, FGASA can provide you with the Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) study material, and there is no time limit with studying on your own – you can take as much time as you like.  Please note that with this option there are no lectures at all and there are NO courses which you can attend which will teach the practical only.  You will have to learn/study all of this in your own capacity.

You will need to contact the FGASA assessor directly to organise your practical assessment and payment for your practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does NOT come via the FGASA office. 

Once qualified, what are your options? 

Once you have completed both theory and practical you will qualify as an Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2).  This entitles you to legally guide in the SITE in which you were declared competent to guide (i.e. where you did your practical). A Site is a game reserve, national park, or nature reserve for example.  As a site guide, you cannot conduct a guided experience throughout a province or over the entire country.   You are restricted to the sites in which you have been declared competent to guide in.   

Once you have your full Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2), FGASA will provide you with your certificate and a letter which will enable you to register with NDT (National Dept. of Tourism).  This is who you must be registered with in order to guide legally. Please note that all assessment first come back to the FGASA office in order to be moderated. This takes a minimum of 3 weeks.  Only once this has been done will you be issued with your FGASA certificate and NDT letter.

FGASA is accredited with CATHSSETA (culture, arts, tourism, hospitality and sports sector education and training authority).  Once you are fully qualified, FGASA will load your achievements onto the CATHSSETA database. Once we have done this, it can take anytime from 3 – 6 months before certification from them, and this is also dependent upon if we have received all the required documentation from you (certified ID/passport and highest education).

What else is required once I have my FGASA qualification in order to work as a Field Guide?

You will need a valid Level 1 First Aid certificate. This covers basics such as shock treatment, CPR, basic sprains, burns, wounds, bleeding and bandaging etc.) is needed before any FGASA certificates will be issued.  You do not need to have this prior to joining FGASA, but you will need to get it either during study or once study is completed before you will be issued with your FGASA certificate.

Some training providers include this in their course, the first aid training provider must be registered with the Department of Labour. You will also not be able to register with NDT without a valid first aid certificate and the international first aid is not accepted by NDT.

Learning first aid is an important and essential part of a FGASA qualification.

FGASA membership information

FGASA Membership is valid for one year from date of payment received.  An annual reminder is sent via email from FGASA regarding your annual subs fee.

Why get qualified with Bushwise Field Guides?

Bushwise has built a reputation as a leading training provider in the safari industry based on our FGASA exam pass rate average, employment rates and level of professional and high-quality training. We offer one of the most comprehensive courses available.

The course has been designed to develop highly skilled professionals in the exciting industry of field guiding. The aim of the course is to provide a well-rounded and specialised education and the training is specifically intended to provide the vocational skills and qualifications required by employers in South Africa and the wider Southern Africa region.

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