Careers in Nature Education
Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in nature education. Read on to learn more about career options as well as education requirements, the job market, and salary range.
What Do Jobs in Nature Education Involve?
Careers in nature education may appeal to people with a passion for the outdoors and a desire to promote environmental stewardship in a variety of locations. Classroom nature educators are teachers (typically in public schools) who educate students about nature and different problems facing our planet.
Forest and conservation workers find solutions to deforestation and create sustainable harvesting plans. Environmental scientists study different parts of the environment to increase our understanding of the natural world and find solutions to problems, such as pollution, species extinction, and more. Read the chart below for further information about nature educators, forest ,and conservation workers, and environmental scientist and specialist jobs.
|Classroom Nature Educators||Forest/Conservation Workers||Environmental Scientists/Specialists|
|Education Required||Bachelor's degree||High school diploma or equivalent||Bachelor's degree to start, advanced degree may be required|
|Licensure||Teaching certification required in public schools||May be required||May be required|
|Average Salary (2018)||$58,230 (for kindergarten teachers, except special education)*||$31,320 (for forest and conservation workers)*||$77,580 (for environmental scientists and specialists)*|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||3% (for kindergarten and elementary teachers)*||-3% decline (for forest and conservation workers)*||8% (for environmental scientists and specialists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Career Options Are Available in Nature Education?
Nature education career options are numerous and include formal teaching positions in school classrooms, as well as other types of educational positions in forestry and environmental science. You might also become a resource interpreter, outdoor expedition guide, naturalist, or recreation program leader. Possible places of employment include schools, state and national parks, nature or environmental centers, zoos, recreational camps, museums, and adventure tour organizations.
How Can I Obtain the Right Education?
If you're interested in expanding your undergraduate education degree, look for outdoor education programs. These programs are often applicable both to those who want to teach in formal school settings as well as those interested in teaching in non-formal settings; however, you may need to complete separate requirements on top of the program curriculum in order to be eligible for teaching licensure, which is typically required if working in public schools is your goal. Also, though rare, some bachelor's degree and undergraduate certificate programs offer concentrated study in environmental education.
Positions in forestry and conservation may require only a high school diploma or equivalent to start. On-the-job-training will be important, and you may be required to take specific job-related courses. Programs in outdoor education are usually geared to prepare you to be an educator in a non-school setting.
Environmental education programs are typically found at the graduate level through master's degree and certificate programs. In these graduate programs, you'll study current environmental issues, educational research and statistics, curriculum development, and ecological systems. You'll study topics in ecology, environmental policy, and program planning, as well as develop leadership and survival skills through wilderness experiences.
What Will I Earn?
No national statistical figures specifically for nature educators are readily available. However, since many nature educators work for public school districts, it may interest you to know that in May 2018, the median salary listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for elementary teachers was $58,230. EnvironmentalScience.org lists median salaries for environmental educators by state as well, encompassing a wide range from $25,000 to $64,000 depending on the location and your experience.
If you work as a nature educator for a non-profit, you may find the salary to be low due to non-profits' limited budget. However, no specific statistical figures are available. In 2018, foresters and conservationists made a median of $27,460, while environmental scientists and specialists made a median of $71,730.
What Is the Job Outlook?
According to the College Board, full-time, year-round employment for many types of outdoor educators is limited since work is often seasonally based (www.collegeboard.org). However, if you're interested in obtaining a formal teaching position in a school, the BLS reported a 3-4% growth in jobs for kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers in general from 2018 to 2028 (www.bls.gov). Environmental scientists and specialists have brighter prospects also, with a job outlook of 8% between 2018 and 2028. Forest and conservation workers may see a decline of -3% over that decade, per the BLS.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Agricultural and food scientists research food and food production methods used by farmers in order to find ways to make agriculture more efficient and sustainable. Environmental engineers find solutions to problems facing the environment by examining them through different scientific lenses, helping to develop plans for recycling, pollution control, public health, and more. Hydrologists are scientists who research the movement of water around the planet, using their data to find solutions to issues of water potency and availability in different parts of the world. All of these positions typically require bachelor's-level education.