Duties and responsibilities
Historical interpreters provide an accurate account of history. They do this by portraying various figures throughout history in order to recreate life during a certain period, or to enhance informative speeches and lectures. They can perform in a variety of settings, such as at battle reenactments, themed events or museums. The typical duties and responsibilities of a historical interpreter include:
- Researching the time period and character using historical records, books, letters and other factual sources
- Learning trades or antiquated techniques (e.g., blacksmithing, using historical farm tools, sewing petticoats and practicing battlefield maneuvers)
- Playing the part of a character in a reenactment
- Recreating daily life in a historical village
- Giving lectures and teaching others about life in a historical period
Generally, historical interpreters don’t need to have a specific background or degree but a background in history can be helpful. They will, however, need to demonstrate the ability to conduct research, demonstrate good communication skills and perform a part. Often, interpreters will receive on-the-job training and they may be expected to complete The National Association for Interpretation’s (NAI) Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) credential.
Skills and relevant work experience
Historical interpreters will need to be able to demonstrate their skill and ability. As well as this, they will need skills and talents such as:
- Confidence, as historical interpreters will need to speak in front of diverse groups of people
- Research skills, as historical interpreters will need to research the roles they are expected to play
- Acting ability, as historical interpreters need to be able to act the characters they are expected to play
- Organization skills, as historical interpreters may need to assist with the setting up of events
Many historical interpreters work part time hours. It is common to have an additional job in translation, research or teaching. Historical interpreters must remember and account for the fact that conducting their own research into the character they are playing can be time consuming. Furthermore, historical interpreters may have to work evenings and weekends if that is when reenactments are happening.
According to Zippia the median annual wage for an historical interpreters in the United States is $44,774. The lowest 10% earned less than $25,000 per year and the highest 10% earned over $79,000 per year.
A lot of historical interpreters have other jobs along side this role. As a result, they may always do this as a bit of a ‘hobby’ and may never seek to progress to a higher role. However, for those who do progress, they may become heritage managers. This role will give them the responsibility to recruit historical interpreters and decide on the characters being acted.