Field Guide

Working as a Field Guide for BAS is a unique and unforgettable experience. While BAS employ a wide range of professions to enable deep-field science, the Field Guide role is one of the most challenging and varied. It offers the greatest opportunities for travel and freedom within the organisation. With this freedom comes responsibility. Working as a Field Guide involves a lot of demanding work but is extremely rewarding.

For an more in-depth look at the Field Guide role click here

Antarctic Field Guides are initially employed on Antarctic Winter contracts between 12 and 18 months or occasionally Antarctic Summer contracts of 7 months.

Contract start approximately end of July.

Antarctic deployment date approximately mid-October – late November.


Learning the Field Guide role and gaining appropriate polar experience takes time. We provide in-depth training and support in all aspects of the role. This training begins in the UK and continues throughout your employment period. Because of the length of time required to learn the role, most applicants will be required to take an overwintering contract initially.

BAS encourages career progression and development. Many Field Guides return season after season whilst others have gone on to become Lead Field Guides, Station Leaders, Field Operations Managers and Polar Operations Directors. The Field Guide role is an excellent choice for somebody seeking an exciting and diverse career within BAS and the Polar regions.

About the role

The fundamental role of the Field Guide is:

  • To keep people safe.
  • To manage risk in a wide variety of situations.
  • To take responsibility for the safety and well-being of themselves and their colleagues living and working in the polar environment.
  • To assist in the delivery of world-leading science.

Field Guides come under the charge of the Head of Field Operations and report to the Field Operations Manager.

Field Guides will assist scientific colleagues carrying out research in the polar environment whilst ensuring all fieldwork and travel is carried out safely and efficiently.

Additionally, you’ll attend to duties including assisting aircraft operations, coordinating field camps, operating communications systems, delivering training and maintaining a broad range of equipment.


Applicants should be active mountaineers with at least five years’ experience of leading routes, during which they have ideally done the following (or equivalent experience):

  • Climbed 10 multi-pitch winter/mixed routes at Scottish Grade 3 or above
  • Climbed 5 alpine routes on mixed and glaciated terrain at PD or above, in Europe or elsewhere (rock routes do not apply). Significant ski-mountaineering trips on glaciated terrain may be considered as a substitute

Applicants must have considerable experience of glacier travel and a sound understanding of crevasse rescue techniques.

Demonstrable experience of group management and the ability to deliver training in a mountain environment is a prerequisite.

Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (MCI), Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (WMCI) qualifications, and experience of expeditions to remote areas or polar environments are highly desirable but not essential.

Applicants should ideally have a range of practical skills with an ability to apply them in new and unexpected situations.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Ensure the safety and well-being of all field personnel and manage all hazards in the field where practicable
  • Ensure all fieldwork is carried out safely and efficiently following the appropriate BAS procedures such as the travel regulations, the Field Operations Manual and other standard operating procedures
  • Support scientific colleagues in their fieldwork and assist in whatever way possible.
  • In conjunction with the Field Operations Manager, ensure field parties have sufficient equipment and supplies for a safe and efficient field trip
  • Report major problems to the Field Operations Manager when they arise
  • Plan and ensure the safe and efficient movement of the field party
  • Organisation of field parties’ campsite
  • Ensure completion of daily radio schedules whilst in the field, reporting on the field parties’ status
  • Maintain equipment in the field including snowmobiles & generators where practical
  • Coordinate and staff forward operating bases, remote field camps and depots to provide direct and indirect support for aircraft operations
  • Deliver field training to staff, assess trainees’ abilities and maintain training records
  • Provide Search and Rescue cover for BAS field operations
  • Compile a report at the end of each season detailing events of the field trip, and other observations useful for future field operations
  • Work with other staff to ensure that the operational and safety standards of BAS fieldwork are maintained or improved
  • Renovate and prepare field equipment for the next season
  • Carry out stock takes and assist in the procurement of field equipment and supplies
  • Provide opportunities for staff recreation as approved by the Field Operations Manager or Station Leader
  • Prepare and consign additional food and equipment requested by parties in the field through the Field Party Request system
  • Undertake general duties as required by the Field Operations Manager and/or Station Leader, which could include building maintenance, decorating, cargo work, fuelling and loading of aircraft.

What experiences can we offer you?

We highly value our Field Guides and understand that experience in Antarctic field work is hard earned. Once Field Guides have successfully completed a contract they can look forward to many years of challenge and adventure with BAS.

At BAS we believe everyone plays a vital role, is unique and valued, therefore, we embrace diversity as well as equality of opportunity and are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming working environment where everyone’s unique perspectives are valued.

Different perspectives and collaborative working help us achieve our best work and come together to form a high-performing team which makes positive changes in the business. That’s the power of every individual. Our cultural values are built on mutual respect, inclusion, commitment, and excellence.

If you are looking for an opportunity to work with world-class and amazing people in one of the most unique places in the world, then British Antarctic Survey could be for you.


Vacancies are normally advertised from January to March.  Check out our latest vacancies.