Why might someone want to work in heritage consultancy?

The University of Exeter is offering all new students enrolling on its MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy programme in September 2018 a £1,000 tuition fee discountRead more and apply now.

Heritage is a diverse field, and while we are all aware of the jobs available in heritage bodies such as Historic England, English Heritage, and the National Trust, there is a growing field of opportunity for heritage consultants. This ranges from individuals who act as consultants, providing bespoke pieces of research and work for clients who may include museums, heritage organisations, art galleries, and science centres, such as Emmie Kell Consulting; to companies of consultants who offer a body of expertise, such as Cotswold Archaeology who specialise in heritage and archaeology.

There are also permanent professional roles in non-heritage organisations that are also called ‘heritage consultants’. This may be a few individuals or a team of heritage consultants working in the private sector, a blue chip company, a think tank, NGO or charity. For example, Atkins is an international design, engineering and project management consultancy that has a dedicated heritage team that ‘assists business, industry, and government in meeting regulatory permitting and compliance requirements when a project impacts or has the potential to impact historically significant cultural resources’.

Heritage consultants get to work on a great diversity of projects making their daily working exciting, innovative and rewarding. It is a great way to gain a portfolio of experience and skills, working locally, nationally or internationally.

Written Dr Bryony Onciul, Director of the MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy and Senior Lecturer in Public History, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus

Three tips on building a career in international heritage management

The University of Exeter is offering all new students enrolling on its MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy programme in September 2018 a £1,000 tuition fee discount. Read more and apply now.

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. What fields of heritage management are you interested in? Do you think you’d enjoy the practical, day-to-day elements of being a heritage consultant as well as the theoretical aspects of public history?

There is no set career path in heritage, which can be daunting for some, but liberating for others. I stumbled into heritage management because of my archaeological and anthropological work in southern Africa. My first degree was in history, and my MA was in Heritage and Museum Studies. Doing fieldwork and volunteering in countries outside of Europe not only gives you a taste of what it’s like to work with diverse groups – often with vastly different, and even sometimes irreconcilable worldviews – but it also helps you identify what you’re good at. This in turn will allow you to target specific companies and institutions within heritage sectors – both in the UK and abroad – when you are applying for jobs.

2. Network! I’d also thought I wasn’t cut out for networking. Surely all the big names in the heritage sector were fed up of overly-eager and recently-qualified graduates introducing themselves at events and sending emails asking about upcoming opportunities? It turns out, however, that most of the established experts who pull the strings (and often control the purse strings) are affable, approachable, and keen to meet new people – especially if they are passionate about their subject and heritage in general.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Heritage experts in the UK often know and collaborate with heritage experts overseas. If someone that is respected by colleagues endorses you, it’s likely that you’re more than half way to making it onto a future employer’s shortlist, whether in the UK or abroad.

3. Gain extra qualifications, and volunteer. In addition to courses like the University of Exeter’s new MA in International Heritage Management and Consultancy, volunteering is an excellent idea – especially because many of your competitors will likely have done the same. Volunteering – both in the UK and abroad – not only provides you with invaluable new experiences and a chance to identify your strengths and weaknesses, it also helps you expand your professional network. Most of all, working abroad is rewarding, and fun!

Written by Dr Jamie Hampson, Senior Lecturer in Heritage, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus

How to Become a Heritage Consultant

The University of Exeter is offering all new students enrolling on its MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy programme in September 2018 a £1,000 tuition fee discountRead more and apply now.

How to Become a Heritage Consultant

A Heritage Consultant brings expert advice and practice to museums, the built environment — including buildings, ruins and historic areas — and other heritage contexts and projects.

The work itself varies considerably depending on the project. It might involve developing tourism strategies, archive design, planning, project management, interpretation, access planning, visitor research, or assistance with funding applications.

Heritage consultants can work within an organisation (including NGOs) freelance or as an employee of a consultancy firm. Large consultancies may have a team of professionals with expertise in tourism, archaeology, museum, conservation, historic buildings or architecture.

As there is no set career pathway to follow for those wanting to become a Heritage Consultant, most of those currently working in the role will have followed a different path and will have different areas of focus or specialisms. This is part of what makes the field so interesting.

Studying Heritage Management

Heritage consultancy is a balance of disciplines, for example history, archaeology, and geography. For this reason many students study Heritage Consultancy as an MA after completing a degree in a related subject such as History, Politics, English, Geography, Archaeology, Art History or Architecture. An MA will offer theoretical and methodological training as well as hands-on experience working in a range of contexts.

During their studies many students will focus in on a particular area of Heritage Management or an overlapping field which interests them. This may set the tone for the type of organisation they wish to work for following graduation. Work placements allow students to gain an understanding of career paths which may interest them.

Finding a Role

The wide range of roles in the sector mean that there is no single approach when it comes to finding a Heritage Management job. Having the experience of a work placement (as part of an MA or separately) will show that you have a practical, as well as theoretical, understand of the field.

When applying for a role you’ll need to show a clear understanding of the theory of Heritage Management as well as an ability to undertake clear and methodical research. Demonstrating how Heritage can be a lens through which to consider current global challenges will show that you understand the wider context of the discipline.

Summary: How to Become a Heritage Consultant

  • There is no set career pathway.
  • Heritage consultancy is a balance between various disciplines, such as history, archaeology, and geography.
  • You need the tools to understand the history of a site, and a holistic understanding of its context today.
  • Expand your knowledge and experience in related disciplines to improve your ability as a practitioner, and make it easier to land a job as a Heritage Consultant.
  • You can develop expertise in heritage by studying a Master’s degree, such as the MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy at the University of Exeter.