What Degree is Needed to Become a Wildlife Educator?

Wildlife EducatorIf teaching others about animals is your interest, you may be wondering if there is a degree needed to become a wildlife educator. Being a wildlife educator gives you the opportunity to pass on knowledge about wild animals and their care. Having a passion for animals is a great first step, but there are other things you can do to prepare for this interesting career.

Where Wildlife Educators Work

A wildlife educator can work any place where there’s an opportunity to educate the public about wild animals and their needs. This may include zoos, wildlife preserves or wildlife rehabilitation centers. Wildlife educators must be knowledgeable about animals and their care, and about issues such as conservation, so they can share this information with individuals, civic groups, schools, clubs or others interested in learning more. Educators may also work more directly with schools, implementing programs that meet curriculum requirements. Sometimes wildlife rehabilitation centers have educators that design programs to take into school or camp settings to teach young people about wildlife.

Education Needed For This Kind of Work

There is not one specific degree that will prepare wildlife educators for their role. There are a variety of degrees related to animals that may prove useful, such as wildlife science, biology, zoology, environmental science, veterinary technology or even animal husbandry. Having an associate or bachelor degree in one of these areas may prove useful when you look for jobs. Actual experience with animals, either in a volunteer or paid capacity, may prove just as useful to some employers, however, so it’s best to speak to potential employers to find out their specific requirements. Getting such experience through volunteer work or internships may be one of your best paths forward, according to the National Zoo. Many zoos, museums and conservation groups have such opportunities. By taking advantage of them, you will not only gain valuable experience but show your long-term dedication to animal welfare.

Other Useful Skills

In addition to any degree needed to become a wildlife educator, other relevant skills and experience that will serve you well include a comfort level with public speaking and a love for children. While wildlife educators may work with adults as well as children, many educational efforts are directed toward youth. It will also help if you have or can gain some experience in education, particularly in learning how to create lesson plans and curricula. Sometimes you will need to create programs that tie into existing lesson plans crafted by other teachers, and at other times you may need to work up lessons from scratch around a given theme or topic. Since wildlife education programs often involve showing live animals to students, it’s important that you learn how to safely handle animals. Understanding an animal’s food and habitat needs and knowing how to keep their living areas safe and clean may also be a part of your job as a wildlife educator.

Related Resource: Environmental Research Analyst

The job of a wildlife educator can be exciting and rewarding for those who love animals and care about passing on that passion to the next generation. Although there is no one degree needed to become a wildlife educator, there are many things you can do to gain experience, skills and education to work in this field.