Do you want to work as a Field Guide?
READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.
RESEARCH: Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.
PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for the career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools, while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!
UPDATED: 14 October 2021
1. What is a Field Guide?
A field guide interacts with and educates visitors in a large park or reserve on all the plant and animal species.
Field guides may use vehicles (called a game drive) or lead the visitors on foot through the park. On many reserves, the field guide assists the Game Ranger.
Depending on the daily tasks, field guides are also called:
- Nature Guides
- Outdoor Guides
- Safari Guides
The title “Field Guide” is sometimes used to indicate careers where rangers work for government or private reserves. We have separated the careers, as they are different in the overall duties. To read more about working for as a Park Ranger or as a Game Ranger, follow the links.
2. What does a Field Guide do?
The Field Guide career can be found in the following career categories:
- Wildlife Conservation
What does a Field Guide focus on?
Field guides use an extensive knowledge of plants, animals and the environment to educate visitors to parks or game reserves.
What are the daily tasks of a Field Guide?
- Escorting and guiding tourists on tours.
- Describing and providing information on plants, animals and points of interest and exhibits and responding to questions.
- Conducting educational activities for school children.
- Monitoring visitors’ activities to ensure compliance with establishment or tour regulations and safety practices.
- Greeting and registering visitors and tour participants, and issuing any required identification badges or safety devices.
- Providing for physical safety of groups, and performing activities such as providing first aid and directing emergency evacuations.
- At times, prepare meals for the visitors
- Write reports
- Administration and filing
3. The working environment of a Field Guide
Where does a Field Guide work?
Most of the educational talks will be held outdoors.
Places of Employment –
Field guides are employed by government to work in parks or forests, or by private game reserves.
What is the average annual salary of a Field Guide?
They can earn a yearly average of US$35,000 per year. The salary will also differ from country to country.
Can a Field Guide be promoted?
Some can go into specialized areas, while others may be promoted into management positions.
The possible levels:
Intern or Junior Guide > Senior Guide > Manager or Superintendent
What difficulties can a Field Guide face?
As a field guide you will definitely work with difficult and sometimes dangerous animals. The work might also entail long hours and working over weekends and holidays. Field guides also have to deal with difficult people that visit the reserve from time to time.
Future Growth and Possibilities
The outlook for employment as a field guide is good, especially if safari tourism grows.
4. Which Skills are required by a Field Guide?
The skills required for a career as a Field Guide can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.
- Critical thinking
- Creative thinking
- Decision making
- Problem Solving
- Effective communication
- Interpersonal relationship
- Ability to give educational talks to the public
- Excellent health and physical fitness
- Basic computer literacy
5. Which Subjects must I have at School to prepare for this career?
The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.
OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!
6. What will I need to Study to become a Field Guide?
The minimum qualifications in some countries is a High School diploma or certificate, but a College Diploma would be best to secure a good position.
Studies can include majors in natural sciences, social sciences, park management, resource protection, or tourism.
Short Courses –
Short Courses in general guiding skills, basic astronomy, local history, weather and climate, basic ecology, fauna, flora, and bush signs (in my specific area), as well as basic first aid.
The duration of College Diplomas can take between 1 to 3 years. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.
Possible Career Preparation Paths
If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.
Why is planning important?
To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.
Possible Combined Career Paths
It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.
Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):
Training and apprenticeship
Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need as a Field Guide will be acquired through practice. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.
In most cases entry level positions may require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.
Join the Field Guides Group to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!
Average level of education of all the people who enter the career
7. Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations
Certain animal careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.
Field guides need to pass a special exam (normally specific to each country through a certified institution), undergo rifle handling training, as well as have a special drivers permit to transport tourists/guests.
Learn more about requirements by joining the OZT Community.
8. Where can I study further?
All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.
See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards education and tourism.
Join the OZT community and Field Guide Group
Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a Field Guide.
Members of the Platform have special access to:
- Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
- Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
- Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
- Make friends around the world and share knowledge
- Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!
If you have decided on being a Field Guide, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.
If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu, and search for something different.
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