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Interpretive Naturalist

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

  • Avg. Salary $84,973.00
  • Avg. Wage $45.86
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 1,600
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Interpretive Naturalist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
NOC code: 2121.1

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

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

Updated Oct 17, 2014

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 particular 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 Oct 17, 2014

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 Oct 17, 2014

Interpretive naturalists need the following characteristics:

  • an enthusiastic interest in nature
  • 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
  • creativity for developing presentations
  • writing skills for developing educational and marketing materials
  • flexibility.

They should enjoy synthesizing information to develop innovative programs and exhibits, using instruments and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision and being responsible for projects.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 17, 2014

Most interpretive naturalists haverelated post-secondary education. This is a multidisciplinary field that draws from a wide range of academic disciplines:

  • 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 in which they would eventually like to work (for example, parks or wildlife interpretive centres).

The Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association offers emerit Heritage Interpreter certification that is recognized across Canada.Associations such as Interpretation Canada, Alberta Museums Association and the Canadian Museums Association also offer professional development opportunities.

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.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 17, 2014

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 co-ordinator 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 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 that never existed before)
  • 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 Oct 17, 2014

Biologists and related scientists
NOC code: 2121

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
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $19.50 $54.74 $33.14 $31.25
Overall $27.99 $68.42 $45.86 $43.04
Top $33.00 $106.05 $61.02 $56.29

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
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Social Studies
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 Oct 17, 2014

Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association website:

Alberta Museums Association website:

Canadian Museums Association website:

Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council website:

ECO Canada (Environmental Careers Organization) website:

emerit website:

Interpretation Canada website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Sep 22, 2009. 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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