Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992

Alert

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted legislation and services. Information on this website may not reflect the current situation in Alberta. Please visit alberta.ca for up-to-date information about these impacts.

Interpretive Naturalist

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

  • Avg. Salary $92,613.00
  • Avg. Wage $48.26
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,700
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Guide, Interpreter, Natural Interpreter, Naturalist, 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: Biologists (2121.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Biologists and Related Scientists (C021) 
  • 2011 NOC: Biologists and related scientists (2121) 
  • 2016 NOC: Biologists and related scientists (2121) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

49%
49%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Interpretive Naturalist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Biologists
INNOVATIVE

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

OBJECTIVE

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

DIRECTIVE

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

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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

  • research the area’s natural history or environment
  • conduct nature walks and field outings or provide campground talks
  • respond to questions from the public
  • prepare brochures and write newspaper articles and labels or signs
  • develop, present and evaluate 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 or take photographs to gather information about the local environment and create illustrations for presentations.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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 Mar 31, 2017

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
  • 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.

Interpretive naturalists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2121: Biologists and related scientists. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2017
Biologists and related scientists

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $23.08 $53.84 $35.12 $32.21
Overall $32.45 $67.40 $48.26 $50.11
Top $36.06 $110.04 $65.88 $62.26

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.

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.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

49%
49%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

11%
11%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

14%
14%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
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 Mar 31, 2017

Alberta Museums Association (AMA) website: www.museums.ab.ca

Canadian Museums Association (CMA) website: www.museums.ca

ECO Canada website: www.eco.ca

emerit website: www.emerit.ca

Tourism HR Canada website: tourismhr.ca

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

Updated Mar 31, 2017. 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.

Was this page useful?
Top