Careers Service Occupations

Museums & Galleries

Museums and Galleries

About

Careers advice

Creative Choices also gives an insight into various careers in museums and heritage

Articles

Guardian Careers hold live Q&A forums with panels of experts, eg:

Industry news

Culture 24 features news, events, exhibitions and education resources from museums, art galleries, heritage sites, archives and libraries.

Guardian: Cultural Professionals Network includes articles such as going freelance in the museum and heritage world.

British Archaeology and Current Archaeology are archaeological magazines.

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. 

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

Councils and government departments

Heritage and archives

Museums and galleries

Antiquaries

Archaeology

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and Association for Industrial Archaeology are professional bodies. 

Heraldry and genealogy

Making contacts

Making contacts is useful for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field come through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and opportunities to make contacts. 

Regular events for this sector include Creative Careers, hosted each year early in semester two. Past sessions have included ‘working for an arts venue’.

For more events for this sector see Careers Service events or External Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in Libraries and Information Management.

Or see our other occupational pages for more options.

Roles

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

There are additional case studies listed on the Museums Association website.

Archaeologist

Archivist

Heritage manager

Museum/gallery conservator

Museum/gallery curator

Museum/gallery exhibitions officer

Museum education officer

Gaining Experience

Having relevant experience on your CV is a vital way of demonstrating your knowledge to employers. It helps develop your essential key skills and highlights your commitment.

In the museum and heritage sector, it is common for offers of internships on an unpaid basis.

Unpaid internships or volunteering can sometimes be the only way to get experience and successfully apply for full-time work. 

This can discriminate against students who don't have resources to support themselves in internship.

These opportunities can provide excellent experience, invaluable contacts and industry knowledge. But you must also weigh up the implications of working for free. 

See Internships, Placements & Shadowing for links to information about unpaid work and your employment rights. 

The Careers Service does not advertise unpaid opportunities unless for charitable or not-for-profit organisations. 

Work experience advice

Newcastle University Careers Service resources

In the North East

Other voluntary opportunities may include Vindolanda, Jarrow HallBeamish and Ouseburn Trust

Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives may also have opportunities for volunteers. 

Advertised opportunities

Vacancy sites

  • Museum Jobs - Leicester University's job site for heritage and museums management includes internships and voluntary opportunities
  • ICON: Internships - conservation internships
  • Global Museum – look under museum jobs for internships, based mainly in the US

Specific programmes

You can also find information about how to take part in a dig and to help protect listed buildings on Council for British Archaeology: volunteering and Training Online Resource Centre (TORC).

Speculative approach

Speculative applications are when you contact employers not in response to an advertised vacancy. 

They can be a useful way to approach smaller employers who don’t offer formal internship. They can also help in finding opportunities in a specialised field or specific location. 

How to find companies 

  • use the directories listed under the Finding Jobs tab above
  • search for local companies who may offer work experience in the North East Graduate Directory
  • Researching Employers includes sources of company profiles and a list of business directories
  • Social media can be useful for finding and connecting with employers, particularly through LinkedIn

Other ways to gain experience

If you are having difficulty finding experience relevant to heritage and museum management, consider:

Finding Jobs

There are a wide variety of resources for sourcing jobs in the museums and galleries sector.

Vacancy sites

Museums and galleries

Gallery jobs has a useful guide of where to look for jobs in galleries. You can also find jobs posted through National Trust and also through English Heritage.

Arts Hub and Artful Jobs advertise opportunities in museum and library work.

Archaeology

Public sector and higher education vacancies

  • Guardian Jobs
  • Jobs.ac.uk - search for jobs in librarianship, information science, IP, transfer technology and museum/curatorial work
  • Times Higher Education - for vacancies within higher education
  • North East Jobs - advertises local library and museum vacancies
  • LG Jobs - recruitment site for local government. Search for museum and gallery work in the UK under the category 'Arts'.
  • Jobs Go Public - public sector and not-for-profit jobs including museums and galleries

Finding companies

Not all jobs are advertised. You could also approach organisations or find work through networking in the industry.

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Use the directory resources below to research and find potential employers:

Study & Training

It is possible to find work in museums and galleries with an undergraduate degree in a range of academic backgrounds. However, many positions require, or desire, a postgraduate qualification.

An MA or diploma in museum or gallery studies, or a PhD in your specialist area, can give you an advantage. 

But competition for jobs in this sector is high. Having a postgraduate qualification will not guarantee you a job. It can give you the chance to build your contacts through conferences and placements.

Work experience, voluntary or paid, is usually essential to get a place on a course and to find a job at the end of it.

If you're not sure if postgraduate study is for you, take a look at Further Study or come and talk to an adviser. No appointment is needed.