Cultural Heritage Officer

Cultural heritage officers are involved in the identification, assessment, conservation and interpretation of places and objects that have cultural heritage value.

Personal requirements

  • Interest in objects, events, places and practices of the past and their significance for the present and the future
  • An inquiring mind and a capacity for detailed observation and accurate research
  • Good written communication skills
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Interest in other people and cultures
  • Able to prioritise and work under time constraints

Education & Training

To become a cultural heritage officer you usually have to complete an arts or science degree at university with a major in cultural heritage studies, history, Indigenous studies, Australian studies, anthropology or archaeology. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees with majors in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks

Cultural heritage officers may perform the following tasks:

  • develop conservation policy and guidelines
  • check and administer legislation
  • compile and supply educational information on cultural heritage and conservation
  • seek and arrange funding to support heritage applications
  • identify, assess and compare the heritage value of objects, places, events and practices, and determine how they acquired their heritage value
  • provide advice on proposed projects or activities that may affect cultural heritage sites
  • provide advice about the interpretation, conservation and management of places and objects of cultural heritage significance
  • prepare thematic histories (studies based on a particular theme in history).

Working conditions

Cultural heritage officers must also develop and regularly update their knowledge of Australian history, Indigenous history and culture, urban/environmental design and one or more areas of specialisation such as prehistory, archaeology, geology, ecology, architecture, visual arts or popular culture.

Employment Opportunities

Cultural heritage officers can work as research assistants and officers, project officers, community officers, professional consultants or sub-consultants working as part of a team on a conservation project. They may work in a number of different areas, including the National Trust, heritage councils, museums, historical sites, art galleries, the minerals industry, local councils, private sector consulting organisations, the Australian and state or territory public services and the tourism industry. After completing formal education and gaining practical experience, you may be able to become self-employed as a consultant.

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