Depending on the job description, it can take quite a lot to be employed in the environmental services sector. Formalized schooling can take Indigenous people away from their communities for extended periods, and relatively few individuals pursue the scientific subject areas required to enter the environmental field. On the flip side, this sector is attractive for entry-level field positions as the minimum requirements do not always include post-secondary education. About 33% of environmental service workers did not have post-secondary education. On-the-job training of environmental staff is commonplace in the industry, with about one third of employers spending over $2000 per employee, per year on training (EcoCanada 2012).

ECO Canada has a description of 120 environmental careers!

There are a number of training opportunities that exist to prepare Indigenous people for environmental service jobs. These range from accredited post-secondary diplomas and degrees to less formalised training programs that are shorter in duration. Below is a selection of training programs offered in Alberta in Environmental Services:

Institution – Program Location Duration & Cost Entrance Requirements Description
Athabasca University – Open Study Courses Online $667/course, online. Varies by course. Athabasca University offers several online, open study courses for students who do not wish to complete a formalized degree program. Several of these courses may aid students in finding a job in the Environmental sector, such as: Introduction to Environmental Studies, Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Protection and Enforcement, the Political Ecology of Global Environmental Change, and Environmental Science Projects
Concordia University of Edmonton – Open Study Courses Edmonton $964/course. Varies by course. Concordia University allows for students to enroll in open studies. Several environmental science courses are available, and students are permitted to upgrade into full degrees.
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Certificate in Environmental Planning and Administration Flexible 16 weeks Grade 10 or equivalent This certificate combines several of BEAHR’s workforce training programs into a comprehensive certificate designed to provide students with an introduction to environmental land use and management practices. The program modules covered include the Local Environmental Coordinator and Land Use Planning Coordinator Modules.
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Certificate of Applied Environmental Techniques Flexible 15 weeks Grade 10 or equivalent This certificate combines several of BEAHR’s workforce training programs into a comprehensive certificate designed to provide students with an introduction to the environmental sector. The program modules covered include the Environmental Core Modules (shared by several programs), Environmental Monitoring Research and Regulatory Specializations, Environmental Site Assessment Assistant, and Contaminated Sites Remediation Coordinator modules.
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Contaminated Sites Remediation Coordinator Flexible 8 weeks Grade 10 or equivalent Program graduates are trained in the coordination of contaminated site management, preparing them to direct community-based site remediation, sampling and testing, and development of long-term remedial action plans.
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Customizable Certificate Flexible Minimum of 15 weeks Grade 10 or equivalent The customizable certificate allows communities or individuals
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Environmental Monitoring Coordinator Flexible 5 – 7 weeks, costs vary by location, trainer, logistics. Grade 8 or equivalent Program graduates from this program are prepared to work as a coordinator on various projects, such as Oil & Gas operations, Mining operations, Pipeline Construction, Seismic, Power Generation, Fishing, and Forest-harvesting. Two specializations are available: regulatory monitoring and research monitoring.
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Environmental Site Assessment Assistant Flexible 8 weeks Grade 8 or equivalent Program graduates are trained in the fundamentals of contaminated site management, preparing them to act as an assistant on Phase I, II and III environmental site assessments.
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Land Use Planning Coordinator Flexible 4 weeks Grade 10 or equivalent The program curriculum prepares program graduates with the fundamental concepts associated with the creation, execution and implementation of a land use plan designed to meet the needs of their community. This includes tasks such as coordinating a community mapping session and identifying land use options.
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Local Environmental Coordinator Flexible 12 weeks Grade 10 or equivalent Graduates are trained in the fundamentals of environmental management, including topics such as: project management; environmental legislation; data collection and analysis; and communication skills. The program provides a background on environmental issues that may affect the community.
ECO Canada BEAHR Program – Solid Waste Coordinator Flexible 5 weeks Grade 10 or equivalent This program teaches program graduates about the waste collection, disposal, and diversion process. Graduates are prepared to design and manage community waste management programs, as well as supporting community education and waste reduction (e.g. recycling) programs.
Keyano College – Biological Sciences Program Fort McMurray 3-7 years part time, $13,580. 60 post-secondary credits, minimum GPA 3.0 The objective of these programs is to provide access to one or two years of study towards “General” or “Honours & Specialization” Programs in Biological Sciences which can be transferred to a degree-granting institution
Keyano College – Environmental Technology Program Fort McMurray 2 years, $8,405. Alberta High School Diploma or Equivalent with English 30-1/30, Math 30-1, Chemistry 30, Biology 30. Students missing English or Math may be eligible to write a pre-admission test. The Environmental Technology program focuses on the environmental issues, problems and solutions that are associated with natural resources. The program is a two-year diploma which develops the skills required for environmental positions with industry and government. The program offers an upgrade to a full four-year Bachelor of Science degree.
Lakeland College – Certificate or Diploma: Renewable Energy and Conservation Online 2 years, $14,338 (diploma). 1 year, $7,274 (certificate). Basic understanding of math, chemistry and physics. Applicants without a High School Diploma may not be eligible for transferability to other post-secondary programs. Students will complete an environmental certificate or diploma program online over two years. The program will cover a broad range of topics such as energy systems, global warming, energy efficiency, and building design.
Lakeland College – Diploma: Conservation and Restoration Ecology Major Vermillion 2 years (~$17,000, includes lodging) Alberta High School Diploma or Equivalent with English 30-1/2 (65%), Math 30-1/2 (60%), Chemistry 30/20 (65%), Biology 30/20 (65%). Entry may be competitive. Students will learn about plants, animals, water and soils in a diploma program that prepares them to work in ecology across a variety of environments. Graduates are eligible to be registered as an ECO Canada Environmental Professional in training.
Lakeland College – Diploma: Environmental Conservation Reclamation Major Vermillion 2 years (~$17,000, includes lodging) Alberta High School Diploma or Equivalent with English 30-1/2 (65%), Math 30-1/2 (60%), Chemistry 30/20 (65%), Biology 30/20 (65%). Entry may be competitive. Students will learn about disturbed land reclamation, including plant identification, specialized reclamation field skills, site assessment techniques, and other environmental skills. Graduates are eligible to be registered as an ECO Canada Environmental Professional in training.
Lakeland College – Diploma: Water Conservation & Management Vermillion 2 years (~$17,000, includes lodging) Alberta High School Diploma or Equivalent with English 30-1/2 (65%), Math 30-1/2 (60%), Chemistry 30/20 (65%), Biology 30/20 (65%). Entry may be competitive. Students will learn field ecology skills such as field biology, field botany, mapping skills, field equipment operation, and wilderness survival. Graduates are eligible to be registered as an ECO Canada Environmental Professional in training.
Lakeland College – Diploma: Wildlife and Fisheries Major Vermillion 2 years (~$17,000, includes lodging) Alberta High School Diploma or Equivalent with English 30-1/2 (65%), Math 30-1/2 (60%), Chemistry 30/20 (65%), Biology 30/20 (65%). Entry may be competitive. Students will learn about water conservation and water quality management, including field skills such as water sampling, habitat assessment, and Phase I and Phase II site assessments. Graduates are eligible to be registered as an ECO Canada Environmental Professional in training.
Lethbridge College – Diploma in Environmental Assessment and Restoration Lethbridge 2 years, $14,817 Grade 12 English, grade 12 math, grade 11 Biology, and grade 11 Chemistry. Assessment for missing english or math available. Students will be taught environmental assessment and research techniques, including detailed field study components. Graduates will be prepared with a flexible environmental education for employment as an environmental site manager.
Lethbridge College – Diploma in Natural Resource Compliance Lethbridge 2 years, $13,345 Grade 12 English, grade 12 math, grade 11 Biology. Assessment for missing english or math available. Students are given a clear understanding of conservation law enforcement while developing a foundation in detection and investigation of natural resource violations. This program offers a 2-year upgrade to a Bachelor of Applied Science in Conservation Enforcement.
Medicine Hat College – Diploma in Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership Medicine Hat 2 years, ~$10,700 English 30-1 (50%), Social Studies 30 (50%), one 30-level Science (50%). Flexible admission for mature applicants. Graduates are equipped for employment in the ecotourism industry, including areas of employment such as trip leading, interpretive planning, resource management, community development or adventure programming.
Medicine Hat College – Diploma in Environmental Science Medicine Hat 1 year, $7,178 English 30-1 or English 30-2 (55%), Biology 20 (55%), Chemistry (55%), Math 30-1 or Math 30-2 (55%). This program is designed to transfer to Lethbridge college after one year, and is compatible with the Environmental Assessment and Restoration, Natural Resource Compliance, or Renewable Resource Management diploma programs.
Medicine Hat College – Environmental Reclamation Technician Diploma Medicine Hat 2 years, $13,172 English 30-1 or English 30-2 (60%), Biology 20 (55%), Chemistry (55%), Math 30-1 or 30-2 (55%), one 30-level Science (55%). Graduates are equipped for field-based or office-based work with private or government agencies involved with environmental monitoring, site mediation and reclamation, resource reclamation, well decommissioning, or environmental impact and audit studies.
Mount Royal University – Environmental Science Certificate Calgary 1-3 years. ~$8,000. Flexible, some job experience in the environmental sector. This program is designed to further educate those with on-the-job experience in environmental nature and/or a diploma in a related field. Students complete ten courses in full-time or part-time registration.
NAIT – Biological Sciences Diploma Edmonton 2 years, ~$10,600 Grade 12 English, Math 30, Chemistry 30, Biology 30 (65% average) Graduates are prepared for a career with a technical diploma in one of three specializations: Environmental Sciences, Laboratory and Research, and Renewable Resources.
Olds College – Land & Water Resources Diploma Olds 2 years, $12,400 English 30-1 or English 30-2 (50%), Biology 20 (50%), Chemistry 20 (50%), Math 20-1 or Math 20-2 (50%). Flexible admission. Students are trained to manage soil, plant and water resources in agricultural and natural ecosystems. Two specializations are available: Land Reclamation and Remediation, and Environmental Stewardship & Rural Planning.
Portage College – Natural Resources Technology Diploma Lac La Biche 2 years, ~$10,000 High school diploma with at least: ELA 30-1 or ELA 30-2 (60%), Biology/Chemistry 30 or Biology/Chemistry 20 (60%), Math 30-1 or Math 30-2 (60%). This program blends theory and applied science skills that are valuable to forestry, oil/gas/mining exploration, utilities sectors, municipalities, and parks. Graduates are trained to conduct a variety of field activities such as reclamation assessments, vegetation assessments, and pre-disturbance assessments.
SAIT Polytechnic – Environmental Technology Diploma Calgary 2 years, $10,400 English 30-1 (50%) or English 30-2 (60%), Chemistry 30 (60%), Math 30-1 (60%). Graduates of this program find work in environmental protection, conservation and preservation of natural resources, and environmental education, communication and research. The program includes reclamation sampling methodology, environmental law, and environmental project management, among other topic areas.
SAIT Polytechnic – Upstream Petroleum Industry Certificate of Achievement Calgary Variable duration, $4785. Canada Job Grant available. Flexible. This certificate is designed as a continuing education program for those students with prior training. The program provides part-time training to train students in administrative and support-level technical positions in the energy industry. The program will cover the basics of geology, geophysics, drilling, well evaluations, completions, and production operations.
University of Alberta – Aboriginal Community-Industry Relations Certificate Edmonton 2-4 years part time study, ~$8,900. Flexible. This certificate program is designed to prepare students for work as a business professional in the environmental sector. This is a non-credit program comprised of five required 20-hour courses and 100 hours of a selection of electives available from Faculty of Extension’s Business and Leadership programs.
University of Alberta – Environmental Resource Management Certificate

(Individual courses can also be taken instead of the entire Program)

Edmonton 2-3 years part time study, ~$9,000. High school diploma, technical diploma and 2 years work experience. This program offers a solid foundation in soil, air and water processes; environmental monitoring; biotechnology; instrumentation; and experimental design. Students learn about strategies for decision-making and quantitative methods of analysis, as they explore how resource decisions are affected by biological, physical, social, economic, and institutional factors.
Woodland Operations Learning Foundation (WOLF) – Woodland training courses Flexible Duration variable. All environmental courses are free and many are online! Others start at $4,400 for up to 25 students. Flexible. WOLF provides training for groups working in the forestry industry. Specialized training courses are available for groups, and include topics such as woodland road construction, woodland wildlife and biodiversity, woodland harvest blcok and road layout, and woodland operational training, among other courses.
Yellowhead Tribal College – Indigenous Environmental Stewardship and Reclamation Technician Certificate Edmonton 1 year (certificate) High school diploma with English 30-1 or 30-2 and Pure Math 30 (average of 65%). Mature students may complete a competency test. The Indigenous Environmental Stewardship and Reclamation (IESR) Technician Certificate Program is a full-time program that prepares students for entry-level environmental stewardship and reclamation jobs.
Yellowhead Tribal College – Indigenous Environmental Stewardship and Reclamation Technologist Diploma Edmonton 2 years (diploma) Requires IESR Technician Certificate (1 year). The IESR Technologist Program prepares students for a variety of roles as in the environmental sector, such as reclamation technician, or environmental site assessment assistant. Graduates are eligible to be registered as an ECO Canada Environmental Professional in training.

Last updated: August 5, 2016

Please contact us if you would like to add a training program to this list.

Disclaimer: Please refer to the Institution’s website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Environmental Monitoring Technician Training Program – Pilot 2015

Even though training programs exist, one of the biggest hindrances to being involved in environmental services is still attributed to lack of training, which is why AESN focuses on piloting different training opportunities geared towards Indigenous people. AITF collaborated with AEMERA to conceptualize and deliver the Environmental Monitoring Technician Training Program pilot for First Nations and Métis Communities in Northeastern Alberta in 2015. Fifteen representatives from 8 Indigenous communities, and approximately 35 science and monitoring staff from the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA), Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures (AITF) and the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) participated in the 2015 Environmental Monitoring Technician Training Program pilot. The 5-week training program focused on safety, water quality monitoring and wildlife monitoring to enable individuals to work in environmental monitoring service crews. All 15 participants successfully completed the training program, and joined in a program celebration upon completion. As part of the safety training, they received certifications in bear and wildlife awareness and avoidance, ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) operation, standard first aid with level “C” CPR, water safety-swift water (3-day advanced technician), WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) 2015, Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Ground, defensive driving, ice safety and rescue (2-day advanced technician) and collision avoidance.

The pilot program demonstrated that our approach to training in Indigenous communities increased community participation in environmental monitoring. Outcomes of the training program included expansion in the sites monitored in Indigenous communities, submission of a multi-year proposal to initiate a community-based wildlife monitoring program, and employment of some trainees by Indigenous communities. Another key success of this pilot was the personal connections that were built amongst the trainees, their communities, and the trainers. Download the training program report here.

Listen to participant experiences:

Aboriginal Pathways – Annette Ozirny (Courtesy CKUA)

Aboriginal Internship for Land Stewardship Program 2005-2010

AITF had previously built a successful model for involving Indigenous communities in the decision making process with government and industry on land resource management issues. Nine young leaders are now recognized as Land Stewards and Consultation Managers in their communities.

AITF’s Aboriginal Internship for Land Stewardship Program ran from 2005-2010, with interns from Indigenous communities around the province. The community-based, practice-oriented training program empowered interns with scientific and technical knowledge for use as land stewards, including GPS mapping procedures, water sampling, land reclamation, managing traditional land use information and environmental legislation. The land stewards now serve to bridge communication between their communities, government and industry, balancing science with traditional wisdom.

Listen to participant experiences:

Jan Noskiye, Ike Solway, Shawn Gervais (Courtesy INNOVATION ANTHOLOGY)