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Heritage Interpreter

Heritage interpreters provide information by conducting tours or role playing for visitors to museums, gallery exhibits and other historical or heritage sites.

  • Avg. Salary $29,108.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.96
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Cultural Interpreter, Guide, Interpreter, Museum Interpreter, Program Leader, Recreation Guide

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Museum and Other Related Interpreters (5212.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Technical Occupations Related to Museums and Art Galleries (F112) 
  • 2011 NOC: Technical occupations related to museums and art galleries (5212) 
  • 2016 NOC: Technical occupations related to museums and art galleries (5212) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Heritage Interpreter is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Museum and Other Related Interpreters

Interest in speaking with people to answer inquiries and provide information


Interest in copying information when collecting tour tickets and fees; and in conducting successive tours


Interest in conducting tours of museums, galleries and historical, heritage and other sites

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated May 19, 2021

Duties and responsibilities may vary considerably from one position to another but, in general, heritage interpreters:

  • Research information relevant to the museum, gallery, exhibit or historical site
  • Welcome visitors and provide orientation and general information
  • Interact with visitors, respond to questions, conduct visitor surveys, monitor visitor activity and handle emergency situations (for example, medical emergencies, building evacuations)
  • Prepare brochures, write newspaper articles and assist with exhibit or display development
  • Design, develop and maintain props and teaching aids (for example, historical or theatrical costumes)
  • Develop, present and evaluate educational programming and demonstrations for the general public or particular audiences (for example, young children, students, seniors)
  • Engage the visiting public in an entertaining and informative manner either face-to-face or through the use of distance learning or video conferencing technology
  • Coordinate volunteer activities and recruit, schedule, supervise and evaluate volunteers
  • Assist with marketing and promoting programs and events (for example, engage in social media interactions)
  • Assist with general facility operations (for example, collect statistics and assist in preparing reports)

To make information interesting and meaningful to visitors, heritage interpreters may act the part of a real or fictional character, or provide hands-on learning opportunities.

Working Conditions
Updated May 19, 2021

Heritage interpreters may work indoors in museums or galleries, or outdoors at historical or heritage sites. They may spend much of their time on their feet. A costume or uniform often is required. As part of role-playing, they may be required to lift and carry objects or perform physical activities (for example, chopping wood or weaving).

Hours of work may be part time or full time, and often include evenings and weekends.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated May 19, 2021

Heritage interpreters need:

  • An enthusiastic interest in their subject field
  • A desire to continue learning
  • Creativity for developing presentations combined with a willingness to try new approaches
  • Flexibility (for example, adjusting work schedules, multi-tasking)
  • Initiative
  • Writing skills for developing educational and marketing materials
  • Research skills
  • Customer service and hospitality skills
  • The ability to communicate effectively with visitors and consistently deliver programs and tours in a pleasant, confident and engaging manner
  • The ability to relate well to people of all backgrounds and ages, and work as part of a team
  • The ability to remain calm and take charge in emergency situations

They should enjoy talking with people, synthesizing information to develop innovative programs, and conducting tours.

Educational Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021

Heritage interpreters need a combination of related post-secondary education and experience. This is a multidisciplinary field that draws from a wide range of academic disciplines including education, recreation and leisure studies, science, communication arts and other liberal arts disciplines. For example, a background in anthropology, history, native studies, fine arts, crafts, performing arts, psychology or sociology may be helpful. An ability to speak 2 or more languages and familiarity with audio, video and computer technologies are definite assets.

When choosing a post-secondary program, prospective heritage interpreters should discuss their career plans with people currently employed in this field.

Associations such as Interpretation Canada, Alberta Museums Association, the Canadian Museums Association and the Interpretive Guides Association also offer professional development opportunities.

Employers prefer to hire individuals who have a:

  • Valid First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificate
  • Clean criminal record check, with a vulnerable sector search
  • Accident-free driving record

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

University of Victoria

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

However, Tourism HR Canada (formerly the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council or CTHRC) offers voluntary Heritage Interpreter training. Recognized across Canada, this program leads to a Tourism Certified Manager (TCM) designation. Certification training is accessible from the emerit website.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 19, 2021

Interpreters may be employed full time, part time or on a contract basis by:

  • Parks
  • Historic sites
  • Museums
  • Interpretive centres
  • Galleries
  • Zoos
  • Botanical gardens
  • Science centres
  • Private tour operators

Many positions are seasonal. These temporary positions can provide excellent experience for students or supplementary income for retired or semi-retired persons. Competition for permanent positions is keen so related work experience (as an employee or volunteer) is essential.

Experienced interpreters may:

  • Advance to supervisory and management positions such as chief interpreter, program coordinator, facility manager, district interpretation or education supervisor
  • Move into administrative positions in planning, operations or programming
  • Move into related fields such as commercial or tour company guiding, public relations, marketing or education

In some organizations, advancement to supervisory and management positions requires a graduate degree and years of related experience.

Heritage interpreters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5212: Technical occupations related to museums and art galleries. In Alberta, 84% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5212: Technical occupations related to museums and art galleries occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated May 19, 2021

Technical occupations related to museums and art galleries

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $33.53 $18.75 $17.00
Overall $15.00 $40.23 $20.96 $18.00
Top $15.00 $41.04 $22.68 $20.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Education and Library Studies
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences
  • Physical Education and Recreation
  • Humanities and Languages
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 19, 2021

Alberta Museums Association website:

American Alliance of Museums website:

Canadian Museums Association website:

emerit website:

International Council of Museums (ICOM) website:

Interpretation Canada website:

Interpretive Guides Association (IGA) website:

National Association for Interpretation [United States] website:

The Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums website:

Tourism HR Canada website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated May 19, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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