Production still showing a team on a boat filming a deep sea diver off the coast of Penzance.

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Production still for a shoot off the coast of Penzance for Heritage Counts 2007. James O Davies is filming a deep sea diver. © Historic England DP055490.

Vocational Qualifications in the Heritage Sector

Not all training takes place in the classroom or lecture hall. As the UK economy increasingly relies upon the skills of its workforce, renewed credit is being given to learning based on practice rather than theory. The heritage sector depends upon many skills that are often best acquired by working in the sector. Here you can find details of the types of vocational qualifications available.

National Occupational Standards (NOS)

National Occupational Standards (NOS) are developed by the lead organisations and professional associations in each sector, often with support from central government agencies. A NOS sets out for a particular sector the skills, experience and knowledge that those working in that sector should aim to acquire. A very wide range of professional sectors now have their own NOS.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)

Once a sector has established a NOS, those working in the sector can start to gather evidence that they have or exceed the skills or experience set out in the NOS. This can then be assessed through an accredited assessment centre which can award:

  • A nationally recognised vocational qualification
  • An award
  • A certificate
  • Or a diploma

depending on the range of skills or experience assessed. The holder of a vocational qualification has demonstrated that they have practical, real-world experience.

Current vocational qualifications

A wide range of National Occupational Standards are relevant to work in the heritage sector, and form the basis of qualifications from library management to customer care. A full searchable database can be found at the NOS website.

A Certificate in Archaeological Practice based on the National Occupational Standard in Archaeological Practice, produced by the Chartered Institute for Archaeology (CIfA) and the Creative and Cultural Sector Skills Council, is available at Level 3. Candidates for the certificate are registered and assessed by the CIfA.

Register for the Certificate in Archaeological Practice

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