Environmental Training Specialist

Environmental training specialists design and deliver environmentally focused training to a wide variety of clientele in both the public and private sectors. They develop specific courses to enhance environmental skills and knowledge using a number of formats and delivery techniques. They often collaborate with other qualified individuals to deliver training that requires a specific skillset and expertise. Environmental training specialists combine technical knowledge and research ability with strong communication skills and a talent for working with many kinds of people in order to convey information and teach others.

At a Glance

Imagine you are standing in an international airport watching a Boeing 747 take off and thinking to yourself, "The pilots and flight attendants on board that plane were in my classroom last week.” You are an environmental training specialist that has been hired by one of the nation’s largest airlines to conduct a series of training courses.

Your courses have been designed to instruct personnel from a number of the airline’s departments about the basic principles of environmental awareness and what each employee can do to minimize the impact commercial air traffic has on the environment. As an environmental training specialist, you have years of experience developing training courses on a number of topics using a number of formats. In this case, you needed to develop a short training module that could be delivered on-site to vastly different audiences and accommodate many learning styles.

When the airline first approached you several months ago, you began researching the aviation industry and consulting experts to determine which environmental issues were most relevant to the airline’s personnel. This helped you determine objectives and content for the training sessions. Once these were established, you could begin building the modules. For each module, you had to decide on the length, class size, audiovisual requirements, and what sorts of resources to use, for example, handouts and textbooks.

This was a huge job because many departments required different course content. The module for pilots, for example, focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution. After presenting the basics of the greenhouse effect, you brought in an aviation expert to demonstrate more effective takeoff, landing, and taxiing techniques that minimize fuel consumption and lower emissions. On the other hand, the modules for office personnel and flight attendants focused on reducing waste and the benefits of recycling. Baggage handlers were instructed in proper techniques for dealing with spills and the benefits of minimizing the amount of time carts and vehicles are left to idle. Once they are finished with your course, the airline’s employees will be much more environmentally aware and motivated to take action and implement your recommendations.

Job Duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an environmental training specialist:

  • Assess client needs to design an appropriate training program or modify an existing program.
  • Establish training objectives that support skill development, proactive learning, personal growth, and teamwork.
  • Plan program delivery methods based on client needs, preferences, and resources.
  • Coordinate and teach courses or seminars at educational institutions or on-site.
  • Adjust course content or instruction methods based on feedback from clients.
  • Design course materials using multimedia and other learning tools, including preparing handouts, guidebooks, and activities.
  • Evaluate students and training results.
  • Regularly update training courses to keep current with changing technology, practices, and legislation.

Work Environment

Environmental training specialists work in a variety of locations, including:

In the field:

  • Delivering training courses and seminars
  • Visiting worksites to assess needs and evaluate practices
  • Giving presentations and facilitating workshops
  • Administering exams

In the office:

  • Researching training topics and industry needs
  • Developing courses and resource material
  • Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, stakeholders, government departments, colleagues, and experts in the field
  • Evaluating course results and updating material

Where to Work

There are a number of places environmental training specialists can find employment. They include:

  • Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
  • Private training firms
  • Colleges and universities
  • Self-employed consultant
  • Firms in other industries, for example, mining, forestry, transportation, and oil and gas
  • Not-for-profit and non-governmental environmental organizations

Education and Skills

If you are a high school student considering a career as an environmental training specialist, you should have strong marks or an interest in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Geography
  • Computer Science

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as an environmental training specialist is a university undergraduate degree. If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as an environmental training specialist, the following programs are most applicable:

  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • Education
  • Natural Science

Certification is not mandatory in order to work as an environmental training specialist.

Role Models

Jason White

I started my environmental training a number of years ago when I worked in visitor services at a zoo. Much of my practical learning has been on the job through several positions including Provincial Park interpreter, owner/operator of an environmental education company and tourism trainer for a provincial tourism council. The experience and knowledge gained along the way have led me to my present position. This is a great job for people who enjoy seeing the country and like human interaction.

As general manager of an ecotourism company I meet lots of different people and visit many rural areas of Canada. You need to be tenacious in this business while building lasting relationships with individuals, companies, organizations and government departments. Throughout my career, I have seen the importance of communication skills and as a result, I’ve focused on enhancing my ability to get the message across. The benefits of this focus show up when I present my ideas to groups or clients.

My twelve years of experience provide me with a broad range of employment potential. If you are interested in this career try looking for positions with consulting firms, training companies and community economic development agencies all across Canada. The Canadian perspective at the community level is changing from tourism to ecotourism. I keep current with the changes through my memberships in associations and international societies. I also rely on the Internet for on-line newsletters and networking with colleagues.

Face-to-face contact is the most valuable way to relate to people and I spend as much time as possible each day conversing with clients and staff in my office. The future of environmental training is bright with new possibilities in project development and increased community-based training initiatives. My personal career advancement is related to my ability to bring in contract work and set up training programs. As a general manager, this is my role, however, in the near future, I plan to get more directly involved with the delivery of tourism products.

This will give me the chance to do more tourism such as canoeing, kayaking and backcountry camping while I am teaching others. I have proven the adage "you have to invent your own future”. By being flexible and adaptable, while willing to take financial and personal risks, I have consistently gotten better at what I do. As I demonstrated more expertise to my customers I received more business in return. Take the motto " have a contract, will travel” and get started in environmental training. In my company, the majority of our work is done off-site in small communities anywhere in Canada and other countries including mainland Chile and Easter Island.

This means significant amounts of travel, usually concentrated in the spring and fall. Client and customer relations, researching new business opportunities, writing proposals and concept papers, managing ongoing projects and planning company growth are my most common daily activities. Communication skills are very important and our success depends upon building solid, trusting relationships with clients. Primarily we interact with economic development officers, government development agents, community futures corporations, funding agencies, town councils and First Nation’s people.

My greatest accomplishment is being part of a unique team of individuals who have taken this company from its first contract to its present status as an international training organization. I have been with this company from the beginning and I know our success is due to the high level of personal care we show our clients. We genuinely like to help people learn about the environment and through that learning improve their lives. We are also very proud that ecotourism encourages people to adopt the best practices for the environment.

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