National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Interpretive Development Program

Entry Level Competencies

Entry level interpretive competencies are typically the core fundamental knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors that all interpreters need to master.

Foundations of Interpretation provides the philosophical groundwork for why we do interpretation, what interpretation is and how interpretation works to form personal connections between the meanings of the resource and the interests of the audience.

Informal Visitor Contacts captures the spontaneous types of interactions interpreters have with visitors, whether orientation, informational and/or interpretive. 

Mastery of the skills required for an effective Interpretive Talk are essential to success in all other formal interpretive program or service types. 

While some interpreters might only do interpretive talks and provide informal visitor contacts, most engage in other program types, all of which build upon the entry level skills.


Click on the list to the left to see the description and standard for each entry level competency. Those indicated as "benchmark" are core competencies.

Note: A key role of the Interpretive Development Program is to facilitate periodic review and updating of the competencies and related learning resources. Some core competencies have been recently revised, or are awaiting revision, accounting for the different formats of some pages and resources in this website. And, under the new I&E Academy structure, many more competencies await definition and description.