With careers in environmental education, job titles may be Wildlife Educator or Interpretive Specialist. Wildlife educators usually work at zoos or other wild animal facilities and most often educate school children in schools. Interpretive specialist usually work at federal or state parks and work at the park. These positions, however, are relatively the same in regards to responsibilities with few minor differences.
Wildlife educators, interpretive specialists, and others working environmental education jobs are mainly responsible for maintaining the facilities, artifacts, caring for live animals, and educating the public. The specific job duties may include:
- -Daily care of education program animals
- -Design, construction, and maintenance of animal cages and habitats
- -Maintaining and cataloging of artifacts such as taxidermy animals, bones, and feathers
- -Development of programs to meet state education standards for every grade level
- -Taking live animals and artifacts to schools, scout groups, businesses, and other events for education programs
- -Apply for and manage federal and state permits for education animals and artifacts
- -Train animals for public presentation to ensure animals and people are safe and comfortable during presentations
- -Interact directly with all ages from preschoolers to adults while handling wildlife
- -Lead school kids on tours of park or wildlife preserve
Most wildlife and environmental education programs are conducted during school hours. However, weekend and evening work can be expected for parks open on the weekend, birthday party presentations, and/or evening events. Wildlife educators and interpretive specialists work both inside classrooms and outdoors caring for animals year round and in all seasons. These positions typically require driving vans and sometimes trailers with animals to and from schools.
Environmental Education Careers Salary
Starting hourly wages range from about $10 to $15 an hour. Supervisors and education department managers may earn about $20 an hour.
Education and Experience Requirements
To educate children and adults in wildlife, environmental, and conservation issues requires sophisticated knowledge on the subjects. To bring people close to wildlife and artifacts requires the ability to work well and safely with wild animals and people at the same time. Most wildlife education positions will require some college education in the sciences and experience working with wild animals. For an interpretive specialist position at a park or wildlife preserve with few or no live wild animals, hands-on experience with wild animals will be less important.
The ability to effectively communicate with all ages is a highly desirable skill for any wildlife or environmental educator. Other desirable skills include knowledge of state and federal laws pertaining to the use of wild animals in education, safe handling of animals, experience with a variety of animals, and the ability to drive large vehicles with trailers. Past experience as a teacher or educator will also help when applying for environmental education jobs.
Where to Find Environmental Education Jobs
Zoos, wildlife facilities, wildlife museums, and wildlife rehabilitation centers hire wildlife educators. Interpretive specialists are typically hired by state and federal parks departments for staffing preserves and outdoor recreation areas.