How can I get a job in museums?
Competition for museum jobs is often very high. How you get a job depends very much on the type of job you want. You should decide what area of museum work interests you and then gain the relevant qualifications and experience.
For example, if you want to work in 'front of house' you will need general customer service skills. Similarly, to work as a photographer or graphic designer you will need specialist skills in these areas. A teaching qualification is useful if you want to work in a museum education department.
Jobs in areas such as curating or exhibitions will usually ask for a relevant degree (e.g. art, archaeology, history or biology – depending on the type of museum). A post-graduate qualification in museum or gallery studies can also be helpful. Several universities offer relevant courses such as museum studies, heritage management, and museum and gallery management.
The Museums Association offers good advice for choosing a course that is right for you if this is what you decide to do.
Click here to visit their website (this will open in a new window).
Conservators will need more specialist qualifications in their chosen area.
Relevant experience is often as important as qualifications and obtaining experience will usually mean doing voluntary work. Voluntary work also helps you decide if museums work is really for you and which areas of museum work you are interested in. Most museums take volunteers, although they may be restricted in how many they can take because of the need for supervision. The type of work you would do varies enormously but many museums do try to offer their volunteers a worthwhile experience, rather than just sweeping the floor!
Museum jobs are not particularly well paid and often pay less than similar jobs in other sectors. For example a qualified teacher working in a museum will generally earn less than a teacher in a school. However most people who work in museums are passionate about what they do and are prepared to put up with the downsides.