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Interpretive Naturalist

Interpretive naturalists explain the natural and scientific features of parks, botanical gardens and wilderness areas to visitors.

Also Known As

Guide, Interpreter, Natural Interpreter, Naturalist, Park Guide, Program Leader, Recreation Guide

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 2121.1: Biologists

2006 NOC-S

  • C021: Biologists and Related Scientists

2011 NOC

  • 2121: Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC

  • 2121: Biologists and related scientists

2021 NOC

  • 21110: Biologists and related scientists

2023 OaSIS

  • 21110.01: Biologists
Updated May 19, 2021

Duties and responsibilities vary from one position to another but, in general, interpretive naturalists:

  • Research the area’s natural history or environment
  • Conduct guided nature walks and field outings or provide campground talks
  • Respond to questions from the public
  • Prepare brochures, labels or signs, and write newspaper articles
  • Develop, present and collect feedback on educational programming for the general public or specific audiences (for example, children, horticultural groups)
  • Assist with general facility operations

To make information interesting and meaningful for visitors, interpretive naturalists may participate in developing and presenting interpretive theatre (dramatic) programs. Or they may conduct interviews and collect specimens or take photographs to gather information about the local environment and create illustrations for presentations.

Working Conditions
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

In many parks, interpretive naturalists specialize in particular types of visitor programming, such as guided tours. Depending on their specialty, they may spend long hours outdoors. At many sites, interpreters work days, evenings and weekends, particularly in summer.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.


2006 NOC: 2121.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in synthesizing information to conduct ecological and environmental impact studies and to prepare reports, and to develop new practices in biological research


Interest in precision working with instruments and equipment to conduct experiments in plant and animal growth, heredity and breeding


Interest in consulting to advise on issues related to biological processes and research and the development of new products; may supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated May 19, 2021

Interpretive naturalists need:

  • An enthusiastic interest in nature
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity for developing presentations
  • The ability to communicate with visitors in a pleasant, confident and engaging manner
  • The ability to relate well to all kinds of people and work as part of a team
  • Writing skills for developing educational and marketing materials

They should enjoy:

  • Synthesizing information to develop innovative programs and exhibits
  • Using instruments and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision
  • Taking responsibility for projects

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC: 2121

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 30 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 29, 2021 and May 22, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Excellent written communication
Attention to detail
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Tasks: Produce reports
Tasks: Monitor and compile research results
Work under pressure
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Paramedical services coverage
Educational Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

Most interpretive naturalists have related post-secondary education. This is a multidisciplinary field that draws from a wide range of academic disciplines, such as:

  • The natural sciences (for example, biology, botany, environmental science, forestry, zoology)
  • Education
  • Recreation and leisure studies
  • Drama, communication arts and other liberal arts (for example, anthropology, archeology, history, native studies)

Experience in the performing arts is a definite asset.

When choosing a program, prospective interpretive naturalists should discuss their career plans with people currently working in the type of environment they would like to work in (for example, parks or wildlife interpretive centres).

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Ambrose University
St. Mary's University

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, Tourism HR Canada offers Heritage Interpreter certification that is recognized across Canada. Certification training is accessible from the emerit website. Associations such as Alberta Museums Association (AMA) and the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) also offer professional development opportunities.

Individuals interested in working within National Parks may find training and accreditation offered by the Interpretive Guides Association (IGA) to their benefit. The accreditation programs available through IGA include:

  • Master Interpreter
  • Professional Interpreter
  • Apprentice Interpreter
  • Apprentice Interpretive Hiking Guide

IGA also offers courses in group management. These are required by those who do not have certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) for guiding hikes on trails in the provincial and national mountain Parks.

The Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC) offers outdoor leadership certification for entry-level leaders. Aspiring leaders can take courses in 3 areas: hiking, paddling and equine.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 19, 2021

Interpretive naturalists may be employed full time, part time or on a contract basis by:

  • National or provincial park services
  • Urban or rural nature centres
  • Science or ecology interpretive centres
  • Wildlife or bird sanctuaries
  • Zoos
  • Botanical gardens or conservatories
  • Private ecotour operators

Many positions are seasonal. Temporary positions are excellent entry-level opportunities for gaining experience. Competition for permanent positions is keen, so related work experience (as an employee or volunteer) is essential.

Experienced interpretive naturalists may move into:

  • Supervisory or management positions such as program coordinator, or district interpretation or education supervisor
  • Administrative positions
  • Related fields such as commercial or tour company guiding, public relations, marketing or education

In some organizations, advancement to supervisory and management positions requires a graduate degree and years of related experience.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group, 79.3% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 44 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated May 19, 2021

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC: 2121
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2121 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.00 $55.00 $34.71 $33.00
Overall $24.00 $70.91 $46.17 $46.86
Top $26.00 $101.09 $60.62 $58.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Education and Library Studies
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Physical Education and Recreation
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 19, 2021

Alberta Museums Association (AMA) website:

Canadian Museums Association (CMA) website:

ECO Canada website:

emerit website:

Tourism HR Canada website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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