Competence matrix performance criteria (ACIfA)

To be eligible for professional accreditation at Associate (ACIfA) grade, you need to be able to demonstrate the appropriate level of competence in four areas:

  • knowledge
  • autonomy
  • coping with complexity
  • perception of professional context


1) Demonstrate your knowledge and understanding relevant to your area of historic environment practice using appropriate professional and technical language.

For example

  • Give examples of your work showing how you undertake a broad range of activities within your area(s) of practice to the appropriate standard.

2) Demonstrate that you understand and apply the legislation, policies, professional standards and industry processes and procedures relevant to your work and describe the processes you use to verify that your work, and that of others where applicable, meets those standards.

For example

  • tell us about the work that you do/have done and the knowledge and understanding of the historic environment, including relevant legislation and policies, that underpins it. Describe the steps you take to make sure your work is up to standard and, if you’re responsible for checking the work of others, tell us how you do that and what you refer to.
    Make sure your examples meet the CIfA Standards and guidance and your employer’s quality standards, and have been quality checked and signed off by the appropriate person.

3) Demonstrate that you are aware of underpinning theory, current academic research and/or broad research agendas relevant to your area(s) of practice.

For example

  • reference relevant research frameworks, current thinking, theoretical or methodological frameworks in your statement of competence and in the examples of work you provide.


1) Describe your role within a team and how you take responsibility for your own work, the work of others (where appropriate) and for decision making.

  • Give examples which illustrate how you have shown leadership and applied professional judgement in your work.

For example

  • tell us about how the work you do relates to other people in your team or wider organisation. Who looks to you for help and whom do you answer to? How do you know when it’s appropriate for you to make a decision and when to consult with others? What steps do you take to ensure you’re fully informed before making a decision?
  • tell us about how you reflect on the decisions you made and evaluate your actions so you can learn and further develop your professional judgement. Perhaps give an example of when something went wrong and what you learnt from it, how you went about resolving a difference of opinion with a colleague.
  • describe how you’ve set an example to others in your team, or trained, guided or helped someone else to benefit from your knowledge and skills.

Coping with complexity

1) Demonstrate your ability to problem solve within the context of your role and to critically evaluate your actions and decisions.

2) Demonstrate how you identify and try to resolve conflicts of interest within an established framework.

3) Show that you are aware of when to escalate to or involve others when dealing with complex or sensitive issues.

For example

  • describe a problem or a challenge that you needed to overcome in your work. What steps did you take to identify a solution; whom did you consult with? Tell us about how you reflected on the outcome and evaluated your actions
  • describe the potential conflicts of interest you encounter in your work and what frameworks you use to identify and to help resolve them
  • explain what helps you decide that a particular issue is complex or sensitive and needs to be escalated. What steps can you take to learn from these situations, so you are able to apply your own professional judgement in the future?

Perception of professional context

1) Demonstrate that you can identify the professional codes and standards underpinning your work.

2) Demonstrate how you critically evaluate your work in relation to the ethical requirements of the Code of conduct.

3) Demonstrate that you understand the roles of key historic environment sector organisations and stakeholders relevant to your area of practice and that you understand the implications of your work within the wider team, your organisation, or the historic environment sector as a whole.

For example

  • tell us about how you evaluate your work and your decision-making against the Code of conduct to ensure that you’re practising ethically. Are there areas where is has been difficult to comply with the Principles or rules of the Code? How did you resolve these?
  • describe who does what within your area of practice. Which are the main organisations you encounter and what do they do? Who does your organisation answer to? Who are the stakeholders and beneficiaries of your organisation and its work?

4) Provide examples where you have successfully delivered, and/or supported others to deliver, public benefit, for example by creating new knowledge and understanding, by engaging with communities or individuals, or by allowing others to benefit from the work.

For example

  • describe how you, or the team you lead, contributed to the generation of new knowledge, shared your own knowledge and understanding with other people, engaged with individuals or communities, contributed to the future management, conservation or interpretation of a heritage asset, or helped other people to access information about the historic environment.