Humane Educator

Female volunteers petting a dog in animal shelter
Camille Tokerud/Getty Images

Humane educators are responsible for promoting humane interactions between pets and people. They teach the community about a variety of humane topics including animal welfare, animal rights, and animal behavior.

Duties

Humane educators are tasked with teaching members of the public how to interact with animals in a compassionate and considerate way. To accomplish this, humane educators develop and present educational programs to a wide variety of community groups, with audiences of varying ages and backgrounds.

Educational content must be developed and adapted to accommodate a variety of age groups ranging from preschool children to career-minded adults.

To present their information, humane educators may visit schools, summer camps, scout meetings, community businesses, college campuses, and many other locations when requested. Humane educators may also bring live animals to participate as a part of the presentation where appropriate (if approved by the venue and if they meet therapy animal requirements).

Most humane educators are responsible for creating educational materials for use in their presentations. These items may include brochures, banners, posters, workbooks, and other handout materials. They may also be involved with producing videos, taking photos, and creating multimedia presentations used to promote animal welfare and the programs at their shelter. General office work, such as filing and processing paperwork, may also be a part of the job.

Humane educators who work at animal shelters and humane societies may coordinate with pet adoption counselors to sign new pet owners up for educational presentations. They may also have one on one meetings with new pet owners to advise them on proper animal care, or provide tours of the facility to potential adopters.

Educators may be required to work some evenings and weekends as needed, depending on their organization’s schedule and the number of community requests for presentations. For the most part, however, a humane educator can expect to work a fairly regular schedule. Work generally takes place indoors, though outdoor presentations may occur from time to time.

Career Options

A humane educator is usually employed by an animal shelter or humane society on a full time basis. The job often requires travel to schools, camps, community centers, and humane organization facilities.

Humane educators may use their skills and training to transition to a variety of related career paths such as shelter manager, zoo educator, or agricultural extension agent.

Education & Training

Humane educators tend to have a college degree in education or a closely related field, though specific requirements vary from one employer to another. Some college programs are available specifically in the field of humane education; the Institute for Humane Education offers a graduate degree program in human education (with Master of Education and Master of Arts tracks available). Coursework in animal science, animal behavior, zoology, or other animal related areas would also be a plus.

The Humane Society of the United States offers a Certified Humane Education Specialist (CHES) program to enhance the humane educator’s credentials. The course involves several online modules and a comprehensive exam.

Volunteer experience at shelters and animal rescue groups is also particularly valuable to aspiring humane educators. This hands-on experience gives the candidate a strong background with regard to animal welfare issues, animal behavior, and general animal care.

Since they interact frequently with members of the community, humane educators should have a talent for working with both people and animals. Excellent public speaking and communication skills are required. Humane educators should also have a knack for writing, editing, and using computer-based technology so that they can create quality educational materials for their program.

Professional Groups

The Association of Professional Humane Educators (APHE) is a well known professional membership group for humane educators. Professional groups may provide additional training and networking events for their members, in addition to hosting yearly conventions.

Salary

As with most careers, compensation for a humane educator is dependent on the individual’s level of experience, education, and area of expertise. Experienced educators can expect to command higher end salaries.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) recently posted humane educator positions with a salary range of $27,000 to $35,000 per year. This seems to be in line with an average of approximately $30,000 per year indicated on major employment sites such as Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com.

Career Outlook

There are relatively few humane educator positions available, and the salary for such positions is not particularly high. Nevertheless, those interested in finding an education-related animal career may find a good match with this career path. Humane education careers can also help a candidate gain the experience needed to advance to higher paying jobs with an animal rescue or humane society.