Environmental Education Jobs and Career Opportunities

Sep 19, 2019

Environmental educators raise awareness and promote active problem solving. They may instruct people of all ages in a variety of settings, but overall they encourage each individual to change their behavior within their own capacity.

Essential Information

Environmental education professionals work in parks, nature centers, non-profit organizations and schools. They teach students and citizens about important environmental issues in order to encourage behaviors that can mitigate or solve environmental problems. While most jobs in environmental education require bachelor's degrees, some may require master's degrees.

Career Recreation Workers Secondary School Teachers Public Relations and Fundraising Managers Conservation Scientists
Required Education Bachelor's; master's for advancement Bachelor's degree Bachelor's and work experience or master's Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements n/a Teacher licensure or certification n/a n/a
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 8%* 4%* 8%* 3%**
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $25,060 $60,320 $114,800 $61,310

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)*

'Source: O*Net'**

Career Options

Careers in environmental education can be found in a variety of places, and environmental educators can have a variety of titles, such as park naturalist, recreation worker, conservation scientist, fundraising manager and environmental education specialist. Keep reading to learn about some of these careers.

Environmental Education Jobs at Nature Centers

Careers at nature centers typically include developing curriculum and activities for school and tour groups. Nature center educators may teach about water, air, plants and ecosystems common to a geographical area and how they change over time. If the area is known to have a special population of plants or animals, environmental educators may try to raise awareness about issues affecting those populations and apply for funding for research.

Recreation workers, including those that lead environmental education activities at nature centers, earned an annual median salary of $25,060 in 2018, according to the BLS. This group of workers is projected to grow by 8% from 2018-2028.

Careers in Schools

Other environmental educators may work as teachers in K-12 schools, providing environmental education to schoolchildren. Lesson planning, classroom management and integration of state and federal education standards are important skills for teachers. Teachers have the opportunity to educate both children and parents about environmental issues and to help form environmentally conscious habits in students.

According to the BLS, secondary school teachers had a median annual salary of $60,320 in 2018. Jobs for secondary school teachers of all types, except special and technical education teachers, are expected grow by 4% from 2018-2028.

Jobs at Non-Profits

Non-profit environmental organizations often lobby and advocate for a particular environmental issue or group of issues. Non-profits raise awareness to educate the public, lobby lawmakers for applicable environmental laws and apply for grants or raise money for environmental issues and research.

Employment for public relations and fundraising managers in for-profit and non-profit organizations is projected to increase by 8% during the 2018-2028 decade, according to the BLS. This group had a median annual salary of $114,800 in 2018.

Careers in Park Systems

Environmental educators can work in national, state or city parks systems across the United States. Environmental educators may work as field or program instructors for park programs, study and educate the public about local environmental concerns and help run park education programs in the community.

Conservation scientists, including park naturalists and environmental education specialists, earned a median annual salary of $63,310 in 2018, according to the BLS. This group is expected to have average job growth during the 2018-2028 decade.

Education Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs in environmental education or environmental science typically prepare students for entry-level work in environmental education. Some environmental educators may be required to have master's degrees in environmental education. Master's degrees typically take two years to complete, and an undergraduate degree in the sciences is usually required for admission. Courses in an environmental master's program may include research methods, management, current environmental issues and program development.

Environmental educators across the spectrum can expect average to strong job growth rates. Salaries vary widely depending on the constituents they are working with. A scientific-based degree is important to success, and professionals can expect a master's to give them an edge.

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