Environmental Education Program Directors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A well-rounded education for environmental education work includes classes in biology, earth science, ecology, social science, history, English, math, computer science, and foreign language. Strong writing and oral communication skills are intrinsic to teaching and managing educational programs. Be sure to also take classes that focus on strengthening your writing and speaking skills.

Postsecondary Training

Environmental education program directors have various degrees depending upon their field of interest. They may have bachelor's and/or masters degrees in biology, marine biology, wildlife science, environmental studies, environmental science, geology, ecology, or botany. Some program directors have combined teaching and environmental studies and science degrees.

Other Education or Training

Workshops, conference seminars, and other continuing education opportunities are available from the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, North American Association for Environmental Education, Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, and the National Marine Educators Association. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Some employers may require education program directors to be licensed educators. Public schools typically require education staff to have bachelor's degrees and teaching licenses issued by state boards of education. Licensure requirements vary by state, but generally require individuals to have undergraduate degrees, to have completed approved teacher training programs, and to have practiced teaching while under supervision by an experienced educator. Private schools do not require licensure. Teachers can also receive voluntary certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (http://www.nbpts.org).

Several states have developed certification programs for environmental educators. The North American Association for Environmental Education offers information on states with certification programs at its Web site, https://naaee.org/our-work/programs/certification.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience creating and teaching environmental education programs will be useful for aspiring program directors. 

Program directors need to be organized, creative, flexible, and patient. They work with a variety of people and personalities every day—students, teachers, administrators and other staff members, as well as parents. The ability to juggle demands while creating stimulating, rewarding educational programs that meet students' needs is important in this work. Strong communication skills are critical, both for writing program outlines and for leading students through different subjects. The work can be demanding, yet program directors need to stay focused. Having an open and curious mind is an asset in the job. Program directors keep reading and researching throughout their careers. They constantly dig deeper—through books, journals, magazines, films, DVDs, videos, Web sites, and by attending workshops and classes. This helps them create fresh, up-to-date educational programs, and it also sharpens their brains.