Job Openings >> Learning Specialist
Learning Specialist
Title:Learning Specialist
Department:Learning & Community

Shedd Aquarium is seeking a Learning Specialist for our Learning Programs Department! -- Do you have a passion for animals? Are you committed to Shedd's mission and culture? You could become an integral part of Shedd's education team! 

 We are all learners, teachers and have connections to our animals.  Whatever the position, we do it with a sense of stewardship, quality, integrity and respect.  In Learning Programs, we strive to create a strong team that represents the diversity of our learners.  

The Learning Programs department develops and delivers learning experiences outside of or in addition to a regular visit, and are opportunities for learners to dive deeper.  We serve a variety of audiences across Learning Programs including students, teachers, teens, youth, families, and adults.  This programming includes, but is not limited to, camps, school experiences, teen learning lab, teacher professional development, out of school time programming for youth and teens and family engagements both at Shedd Aquarium and in off-site locations.  The Learning Specialist uses creativity, promising instructional practices and evaluation data to design, implement and authentically evaluate programs that support various levels of Shedd’s learning framework.  They utilize learner-centered teaching strategies to encourage learners to think critically about the natural world and their place in it, actively seek out relevant content knowledge and evaluate learning using authentic and formal assessment techniques. The Learning Specialist demonstrates ownership and autonomy in each program cycle while contributing to a culture of collaboration.  They actively participate in reflective activities as it relates to their instructional quality. This position is primarily responsible for developing and facilitating learning experiences at Shedd, in the field, in local communities and in online environments. 


  • Depending on specific portfolio assignments, this position may work regular evenings and weekends for a set period of time. Flexibility to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends and overnight programs/events is needed.

Duties & Resposibilities:

  • Demonstrate leadership in accordance with Shedd’s mission and values 

  • Develop immersive programs aligned to programmatic goals and outcomes 

  • Facilitate learner-centered programs with minimal environmental impact, engaging learners through multisensory, dynamic and authentic experiences 

  • Research instructional strategies, content knowledge and current programmatic data to achieve program goals and outcomes 

  • Apply a working knowledge of current models and philosophies of science and environmental education and solid content knowledge in support of Shedd’s mission 

  • Utilize resources such as live animals, local natural areas and technology (including data loggers, interactive whiteboards, and online software) for programming 

  • Demonstrate flexibility and adaptability to be used in working across audience groups, including team projects, program development, teaching, etc. 

  • Maintain resources, materials and programming spaces, including assisting with ordering of supplies, equipment, and materials as needed 

  • Monitor and evaluate learning using authentic assessment tools in alignment with program evaluation plan, adapting instruction as needed. Collect evaluation data as required with the assistance of the coordinator 

  • Participate in project related trainings to ensure preparedness to develop and implement portfolio-specific programs while insuring consistency of learning experiences 

  • Maintain strategic relationships with collaborative partners and other pertinent organizations and facilitate strategic recruitment for program participation 

  • Demonstrate a commitment to professional and personal growth by initiating dialogue with colleagues, engaging in self-directed learning and focusing on professional development goals 

  • Participate in Aquarium wide and interdepartmental teams, projects or meetings as needed 

  • Fulfill other duties as required 




Bachelor’s degree in life science, environmental science, education, museum studies or a related field.


  • Minimum 2 years of experience teaching in either a formal or informal setting  

  • Minimum 2 years of experience designing learning experiences 

  • Experience working in team-based environments 

  • Experience with teens, youth, and/or families from Chicago communities or other urban areas. 

  • Prior informal outdoor/science education teaching experience working with diverse audiences  

  • Experience facilitating outdoor program activities such as canoeing, hiking, snorkeling, camping, etc. 


  • Excellent written and oral communication skills; fluency in Spanish desirable 

  • Excellent organizational and time management skills 
  • Dependable technology experience beyond basic computer skills, and willingness to learn new technologies 
  • Willingness to be trained to handle animals for education programs 

  • Willingness to implement aquatic science programs aboard research vessels and/or in wilderness settings for up to three consecutive weeks 
  • Must possess strong swimming skills

  • Snorkeling experience  

  • A valid driver’s license 

  • Legal age to rent a car 


Willing to be CPR and first aid certified (advanced wilderness/outdoor training required in some situations).  Shedd will provide these trainings as needed. 

Learning Specialist Swim Test Information for Applicants: 
  • All Shedd Aquarium Learning Specialists must possess strong swimming skills. To be eligible for consideration for hire, applicants must be comfortable in deep water and must be able to pass a swim test. The swim test will be administered at a facility with a certified lifeguard on duty and will be scheduled as a final part of the interview process.  
  • Swim Test Components: 
    • Swim 200 meters (any stroke, no time limit) 
    • Tread water for ten minutes (deep water, no touching sides or bottom of pool) 
  • Applicant must accomplish the above tasks with no difficulty.

We strongly encourage people of color, LGBTQ+ community, veterans and active duty military, parents, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from all cultural backgrounds to apply. Shedd Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes everyone to our team.

If you need a reasonable accommodation at any point in the application or interview process, please let us know. In your application, please feel free to select which pronouns you use (For example – she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs).

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