A career as a game ranger

Would you like to become a game ranger? Do you know what it takes to be a field guide? Do you have the confidence to lead people into the wild as a Trails guide? Do you simply want to study to become a game ranger, or do you want to learn more about wild animals and the environment for a month, 6 months or year?

I could give you a thousand reasons why you should become a game ranger, a hundred more reasons to become a field guide and a few others to become a Trails guide; however you have chosen this site because this is where your interest lies and I have selected some of the best places to fulfil your dream.

Bhejane Nature Training
– KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Nature Guide Training – Limpopo, South Africa


Limpopo Field Guiding Academy

What is FGASA – The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa
FGASA represents individual Tourist Guides, Nature, Culture and Adventure guides, Trackers and organisations involved in offering professional guiding services to members of the public.

FGASA is an accredited provider with the Tourism Hospitality and Sport, Education and Training Authority (THETA). 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. In conjunction with THETA within the new National Qualifications Framework, FGASA promotes the standards for guiding throughout Southern Africa in the form of:
• A standard outcomes-based training syllabus
• A code of ethics and a set of guiding principles
• An assessment system based on high standards of competence
• A effective training course endorsement system
• A valid recognised First Aid Certificate requirement
FGASA aims to promote a culture of professional guiding based on a strong ethical well-informed, safety conscious approach to provide the visitor to the African bush and environs with a pleasant and memorable experience.
FGASA is fully committed to the development and implementation of the national qualifications, promoting the development of all tourist guides, including previously disadvantaged individuals as guides, trackers, trainers and assessors as part of the South Africa’s transformation process.
FGASA promotes the training of guides through the endorsement of training providers who conform to the FGASA and National training standards. The Association also promotes the highest standards of guide assessment by appointing and registering fully qualified and experienced assessors to carry out practical evaluations at all levels for all the guiding qualifications.
FGASA’s philosophy is one of promoting the guide and tracker on the ground in terms of skills development, recognition of existing skills and creation of job opportunities within the tourism industry.

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34 Responses to “A career as a game ranger”

  1. Sewela says:

    I love wild animals and would love to know more and understand their behaviour. my dream is to own a game lodge oneday, i think i m already on my way to my dream as i now own a 5000 sq m land in the Hoedspruit wildlife estate, planning to build a holiday home, but my problem is am afraid of the bush. please let me know of any other seminar. workshop, voluntary work that can equip me with the necessarry skills and knowledge.
    Female aged 32, polokwane

  2. Trailsafari says:

    We hope to be running workshops later this year and I shall be in touch with you about that. Perhaps your fear of the bush is simply not enough exposure or understanding of wildlife. I would suggest you try and find a copy of Beat about the Bush, by Trevor Carnaby – its a great guide to animal behaviour!

  3. Rowland Rudman says:

    HI. I also love animals and the wildlife. I am a Grade 12 Student and want to know what subjects do i need to become a game ranger? i love the bush and the out doors. I can handle a firearm, i am fit. I want to become a game ranger, but don’t know where to do it. Can you please help me?



  4. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Rowalnd. Biology and Geography, Tourism/Environmental studies will help, but those subjects are not essential. If you have a keen interest in wildlife and the environment, then chances are good that you have already picked up journals and books and read those. Many courses are available from two-week introductory courses to give you a feel of what it could be like to 6 month and year courses.

  5. Hi my dream is to live in the wild and study to be a game ranger but dunno how to get into the courses I rely. Feel like its my calling to do good in our country after all of this poaching I’m good with animals and the out doors please can some 1 help me in 19 and I wana do this for the rest of my life

  6. pieter rsa ec says:

    hi there trailsafari
    i am 27 yrs old ,have a valid first aid(LVL 1), and for as long as i can remember all iv wanted to do is show people how incredible our african heritage is. the people are many and various all with colorful histories, our animals are revered world wide as iconic symbols of freedom and strength.yet sadly we are slowly destroying this/them. even our fauna and flora is peppered with history,intricately woven into the lives of so many of our peoples culture.i want to become a field guide/game ranger in order to learn and understand these people/animals and there habitats much better,i want to protect and preserve this legacy for my children.my love and limited knowledge of the african bush has become more like a hobby which i find is nagging away at me.i fear i may have left it too long,is there any cut of age for trainees?also can one qualify through correspondence,if so what of the field and guide hours that need to be logged?

  7. Lara Lea says:

    Hi there, I am also a matric student and I’ve been interested in animals my entire life..I have grown up loving the outdoors and starting to contemplate on the idea of going into this field. If I decide to take half a year as a “gap year” would I still be able to apply?

    Kind regards.

  8. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Lara Lea

    There are a number of courses avilable for you to take from 88 day courses to 6 month courses.
    I’ll send you an e-mail with a little more information for you to think about..

  9. Aidan Dooley says:

    HI there.
    I am 16 and living in the United States. I was born in South Africa, moved to America when I was 13. I have loved the Bush since I was just an infant. I just want to know what cources I have to take in University, or if it is a better idea to take a gap year and go back to SA and study there? Oh I am only a sophomore (grade 10) in High school (college).
    Any help is great! thanks.

  10. joe davies says:

    hi i’m 17 years old , from England , United Kingdom. i have excellent GCSE’s however i do not study any science orientated subjects. although i do have a keen interest in conservation and wildlife. i would love to train as a game ranger in South Africa and i would be willing to work exceptionally hard. is there any advice someone of your expertise, might give me to persue this career? many thanks.

  11. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Joe

    That’s wonderful! Congratulations and thank you for taking an interest in conservation and wildlife! I wish you well in your persuit – we need many more like minded people! When you say game ranger – are you wanting to actively play a role in conserving animals, or are you more interested in taking game drive and game walks and sharing your knowledge with others?

  12. Jayashree says:

    I’m from India. I’m presently pursuing my B.A. Honours in Education 3rd year and I’m NOT a Science Student. I want to be around BIG CATS either as a TRAINER or as a GAME RANGER.
    My knowledge about these Animals’ behaviour patterns are confined to Documentaries & Books. I want to study further BUT there are certain Universities in USA that demand a Bachelors Degree on ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, ZOOLOGY etc. I LOVE BIG CATS and have a dream to own an Educational Zoological Park.
    Is there any way any of your expertise can HELP!!!
    I’ll be thankful if you send me an e-mail.
    I’m following u on Twitter also.

  13. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Jayashree

    Have you read John Varti’s blog http://www.jvbigcats.co.za, it will give you interesting facts about the reality of working with big cats in the Wild. In South Africa, there are also a few white lion projects that might help, but unless you want to join a research team, most other game reserve conserve all the animals not specifically big cats. Why not approach one of the South African Universities via your University – there are many Honours students who might need a hand?

    I personally do not have any contact nor can recommend any trainers of Big Cats.

    Thanks for the follow ~ all of the best…

  14. Trailsafari says:

    A game ranger in the true sense of the word is someone who wants to be involved in nature conservation with particular reference to game/wild animals, you have two options distance learning or going to university, UNISA (http://www.unisa.ac.za/Default.asp?Cmd=ViewContent&ContentID=18557) or TUT are two of the tertiary education providers I can recommend (http://www.tut.ac.za/students/facultiesdepartments/science/departments/naturecon/Pages/default.aspx) Here you have the choice of applying your nature conservation studies in the direction you want to go.

    Alternatively, we find a number of students wanting to get into the field as soon as possible and are thus embarking on a dual medium form of study by taking a FGASA level course (3months), whilst also studying through UNISA – this way, students are able to get into the field by taking game drives and learning about game reserves in general whilst furthering their studies, however, because of the amount of time and dedication field guides have to give their guests, it seems it takes a lot longer to complete their studies by working and studying at the same time.

    This is a decision you will have to make. If you want advise on which FGASA accredit courses to take, please let us know and we’ll send through suitable information.

  15. Ed Walter says:

    Hi im currantly living in the UK, im 15 years old, im planning on taking enviromental studies and geography as A levels, im fairly good with a gun. Im looking at becoming a game ranger in africa for a future career, i have friends and relatives near the limpopo, and as im interested in the anti-poaching and conservation side, and was wondering what courses would be appropriate and where abouts in South Africa i can take these courses, and whether there are meny game ranger job opportunites.

    Kind regards.

  16. Cherie Davies says:

    Hi there! I am considering a career as a game ranger. I enjoy being in the wild and the bush and I love the outdoors. I am always fascinated when I see wild animals by that I mean lion, giraffe, rhino, etc. I was recently on a hike in a game reserve and a herd of various animals ran across our path. There were wildebeest, warthog, buck to mention a few. This was the highlight of the hike for me. I am attracted to game ranging because I love the bush and I enjoy meeting people from other countries. When I think of game ranging I think of meeting new people and being in the wild on a daily basis. Maybe even leading people on a game drive. When there are no game drives then being responsible for the hospitality side of their stay. I enjoy making people feel at home and catering for their needs. What advice would you have for me? What course do I need to do? Do I need to be qualified? What is the job availability like and the salary? I am currently doing my matric. Where to from there?

  17. Cailynn says:

    Hi my name is Cailynn.
    I’m a Grade 12 Student , female and I have a great love and passion for wild animals and I’d love to work with them. I have hospitality studies and tourism as a subject and I know that could count in my favour at a lodge for example but I do want to become a game ranger, is it possible? What qualifications will I need? Where should I go etc. Please help?

  18. Thiba says:

    Iam so mush interested to be a Game Ranger this is my life my destiny pls help me i love nature outdoors n wild animals please assit me

  19. Trudy Casey says:

    My son would like to become a game ranger and is currently in Grade 10. His subjects are, English, LO, Maths Lit, Afrikaans, Hospitality, Tourism and Business Management. He also has dyslexia. Can you recommend what he should study after matrix?

  20. Charlie says:

    Hi, I’m 26 (female) from England. I have already been involved in a 6week intense course (which I loved) in SA where I attained my FGASA level 1. I also have a degree in animal science.
    I am really passionate about all aspects of wildlife and conserving it. My IDEAL job would be a game ranger, however, I am pretty good with people so field guide would also be great.
    Do you have any advice on how to get my foot in the door? And also just how feasible it is.
    Any help would be really appreciated.

  21. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Charlie
    Most lodges require a drivers licence and PDP (Public drivers licence), so that would be my first suggestion if you have not already obtained a PDP. Then, put together a CV and keep an eye on Facebush (Facebook group) and lodgestaff.com for field guide positions.

    There are a number of private reserves that take volunteers for game ranger type experiences, thats a great foot in the door for more permanent work in the conservation field.

    All of the best!

  22. Trailsafari says:

    Dear Trudy
    There are a few options available to him, the first being something like UNISA And their correspondence course in Nature Conservation http://www.unisa.ac.za/qualifications/index.asp?link=http://www.unisa.ac.za/qualifications/Navigation/Alph_5_99.html
    alternatively, full time study is possible at TUT http://www.tut.ac.za/students/facultiesdepartments/science/departments/naturecon/Pages/default.aspx. Then there is is the private tuition option of an advanced course in Nature Guiding and Wildlife Conservation at a field guide training school where we are currently based? http://www.bhejanenaturetraining.com

    Let me know if we can assist in anyway.

  23. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Thiba

    When you say game ranger, are you wanting to conserve/research/protect wildlife, or are you wanting to take people on game drives?

  24. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Cailynn

    The guiding industry is hospitality based, as a guide you bridge the gap between science and entertainment, by hosting guests in nature and revealing its secrets to those who want to know more.

    To conduct a game drive legally in South Africa, you need to have paperwork and that begins at FGASA – the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa, http://www.fgasa.co.za/ there are a number of training schools that offer Level 1 courses and in time, you can then specialise in other courses too.

    Take a look and let me know if you need any other information

  25. Lucky says:

    hi, help me i also want to be a game ranger, but im not educatad.

  26. Eric says:

    Hi, my name is Eric. I’m in grade 12 right now, and have recently accepted that my desire to be in the bush and with animals is by far greater than any other desire, such as making money! I have a deep passion for animals especially, and i’d love to be part of something bigger than my own litte world.. Unfortunately, i don’t have a lot of money. PLEASE could you provide information on the first step into this field. thank you so much, Eric 🙂

  27. Jess N says:

    I am still in high school, but very interested in wildlife and very keen on becoming a game ranger/ field guide. 🙂

  28. Trailsafari says:

    That’s great, Jess! The more people willing to enter into this industry, the better it will be for nature, wildlife conservation and the fine line between eco-tourism and sustainable wildlife management! All the best for your studies…

  29. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Eric

    Unfortunately, all courses cost money. depending on how serious you are, you can either apply for a study loan or contact companies like SANBI for information about their intern programmes! All of the best…

  30. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Lucky
    If you can read and write you are already ahead of many others! FGASA requires a minimum age of 18 years to do their Level 1 course, however, there are local guide courses available in which you can do verbal exams! We are all actually very ill educated about the natural environment and believe me, even after living on game reserves and working as a field guide instructor, I still have much to learn! Nature has so much to teach us, all you need is an open mind and willing spirit to be taught!

  31. liesel says:

    Hi there I am 27 years old and I have decided to pursue studying to be a ranger…i would need to study part time,as I still need to earn a salary,it would be great,if you could maybe advise me on any courses available to study part time…I have also researched it, and I found wildlife campus online…which seems to be a good start…but in not sure…is it advisable to go this route and maybe try and volunteer at places in my free time…and slowly gain experience?

  32. Trailsafari says:

    Dear Liesel
    Thank you for your query.
    That is fantastic and I wish you well in this career field! Wildlife campus is a great idea but not widely recognised in the industry. Remember, to be a game ranger you are wanting to manage or assist game reserve manager to monitor wildlife, fix fences, burn firebreaks conduct game counts etc. For that, the only part-time course I can suggest is the UNISA diploma in nature conservation.

    Let me know if you want more information or have other questions!

  33. JOELEEN says:

    Good Day

    My son is very interested in becoming a Game Ranger, please advise us of the subjects he needs to choose in Grade 8.

    Thank you for your help

  34. Trailsafari says:

    Hi Joeleen
    Many of the Natural Science subjects will provide a fantastic foundation. Game Ranger courses focus on Biology (Plants & Animal studes), Soil Science, ecology, climate, communication, computer literacy, whereas Field guide courses focus on Biology (plants & animals), geography (Rocks, soil, astronomy), ecology and a bit of natural history. So any foundation courses that include aspects of the latter courses will assist him.