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Career opportunities Arts and Humanities

In the UK many graduates enter employment where a degree in any subject would be acceptable. In this instance what they offer the employer is evidence of the range of competencies which have been developed through their academic study, rather than the specific subject content of their degree. Sectors such as accounting and IT are open to graduates from all disciplines and other unrelated professions may be accessible following additional postgraduate level study.

Given the competition for graduate positions, it is important to consider a range of occupational areas. Bear in mind that many careers require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

We advise you to research your career choices thoroughly and as early as possible, particularly in relation to experience required, differences that relate to where you live, or where choice of courses may affect future opportunities.

Studying Arts and Humanities provides graduates with an adaptable set of skills that can give entry to a vast range of occupations leading in many career directions. Employers in all fields value applicants who can deal competently with large amounts of complex information and turn it to good use. In addition, problem solving and effective communication and presentation of ideas and arguments are skills that can be used in a variety of functions from implementing government policy and advising ministers, to being involved in the promotion and sales of products.

The current economic downturn and government spending restrictions has resulted in a reduction of opportunities for employment in the public sector at both national and local level. This also applies to arts organisations in the private and charitable sectors that rely on public funding.

Depending on the degree you choose, openings can be found in:

  • public administration, such as local government, the Civil Service, art institutions, NHS and social services
  • work where written communication plays a major part such as advertising, journalism, publishing and public relations
  • heritage and museums
  • education
  • legal work
  • business, banking, retail, hospitality and travel sectors
  • human resources
  • charities and campaigning organisations
  • creative industries.

The creative industries sector in the UK offers employment opportunities for Arts and Humanities graduates who can particularly utilise their creative problem-solving abilities and expertise in connecting different ideas and concepts. It is crucial to gain as much relevant experience as you can in order to develop contacts and gain entry into this field.

Careers in Museums

What are the different types of jobs in museums? Listen to staff at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History talk about their different roles. Hear them describe their jobs, the skills they need and how they got into the jobs.

Ceri Watkins


Transcript: Ceri Watkins - Visitor Services Assistant

[Question on screen: What are your main duties and responsibilities?]

Ceri: My name is Ceri, I work as a Visitor Services Assistant at the museum, but I also help to administer a dung beetle research project that the museum is involved in, as well. The main role within those two sections are welcoming visitors to the museum, ensuring they have a happy and positive experience about the museum, and also to ensure that their safety is well looked after, and maintain the exhibition space for public benefit.

And for the dung beetles, we do an educational road show that tours around certain venues in the south-west, and also map dung beetle species across the country.

[Question on screen: What are the main skills you use in your role?]

Ceri: I think the main skills that I use within my job are probably being a welcoming and generally cheerful person, and greeting people, and ensuring that everybody has lovely time while they’re here. And also to be quite open, and share my knowledge wherever I can, of entomology and dung beetles, and also of the displays, and help to explain, as well, some of the displays.

[Question on screen: How did you get into your role?]

Ceri: I came into the museum probably because of my natural history interest. My particular interest is insects, and I started out doing an undergraduate course that was based on environmental science and biology, and from that my love of insects grew, and not especially museums at that point, but it ended up my natural home, I suppose, because of the collections here, and what they mean to me, and how important they are.

After my undergraduate course, I then went onto do a Masters in entomology, and that lead me into a traineeship at the museum, looking at saproxylic or dead wood insects, and that lasted for fifteen months. And from there, because I enjoyed it so much at the museum and didn’t want to leave, I was actually offered a Visitors Services Assistant position. I’ve kept in contact with many of the museum staff through that, and then also took on the dung beetle research project too.

[Question on screen: What advice do you have for people who are looking to work in museums?]

Ceri: I would recommend that people wanting to work in the museum sector certainly would volunteer, get to know really what it’s all about behind the scenes, because there’s an awful lot that goes on behind the scenes of museums that you don’t see as a general visitor to a museum space.

And that also gives you good ideas about collections management, perhaps, what’s involved in the job on the ground, and if it’s still interesting, that volunteering experience really would stand you in good stead, because one of the things that comes across, particularly in museums, is the practical skills that you need to be able to work within the sector.

[Question on screen: How is the museum sector developing?]

Ceri: I think one thing that’s changed pretty much for all museums over a longer period of time is the amount of public engagement that happens in museums. Which is fabulous, because we’re getting more and more visitors, and we’re looking at and exploring more and more ways that we can explain about the science in collections and those other things, rather than it being a stuffy area full of items that people just come and look at, and don’t engage with anymore.

And that’s quite an exciting way of doing it. It’s very rewarding when you get the feedback directly, as well, from the people.

Scott Billings


Transcript: Scott Billings - Digital Engagement Officer

[Question on screen: What is your role at the museum?]

Scott: My name is Scott Billings, and I am the Digital Engagement Officer at the Museum of Natural History at Oxford University.

I work within the public engagement team in the museum. The public engagement team covers quite a wide range of activity, from education and learning through to exhibitions and interpretation of the collections, as well as marketing, and press, and online activity.

So my job is very varied. I do some of our marketing and press, I do our online content, social media, blog editing, and article writing. I also get involved in doing some design and photography, in terms of producing communication material and that kind of thing.

And I’m on the teams that work on the changing exhibitions here as well, so I do principally the digital elements of exhibitions, but also I get involved in writing and editing material for those as well, and managing those projects, so it’s quite a varied role, actually.

[Question on screen: What are the main skills you use in your role?]

Scott: So my background, before I worked in museums, was as a journalist, and I didn’t really realise this at the time, but actually the grounding that you get from doing journalism has proven to be really really useful.

I’ll go on to talk about this in a moment, but a lot of the skills I think I’ve brought to the museum job were kind of in story-telling and writing and editing, copywriting. A lot of what I do is about communication, so it’s about clear communication of whatever it is you’re talking about, to the audience you’re talking to. And I think that having done journalism, that provided quite a good skillset and training in that kind of work.

And that carries over from not just writing, but also into the design and visual side of some of the things I do, as well. It’s all part of a package, I guess. If you’re putting together a poster, or even working on a website, or you’re doing an exhibition space, you’re combining written material with visual material, and editing and sequencing, and all those sorts of things. Having put together articles and news and feature articles as a journalist, that’s proven to be useful.

And I’m also a hobbyist photographer, so I’ve thrown that into the pot as well, so I get to do a bit of photography and image processing and editing, which is something that is useful to the museum.

[Question on screen: How did you get into your role?]

Scott: I was a journalist for about ten years or so, and I started off as a media journalist, writing about the media industry, which was okay but it wasn’t particularly my thing.

Then I was lucky enough to get a job as a design journalist, working on a design magazine, and part of that, as it turned out, was writing about exhibition design, which was an area I hadn’t even really considered existed, but once I started writing about that, I thought I actually really really would like to get into museums and exhibitions, and writing for museums.

I ended up being a freelance journalist for a while, and whilst I was freelance, I volunteered with the museum’s volunteer service, which I would recommend anyone doing if they’re trying to get into the museum world.

And because I was volunteering and bits and bobs, in fact one of the things I volunteered to do was do photography. I already did photography for fun, and museums are always after good photographs, so that was a nice way in. I got to know a lot of people in the museum, did some photography for them, which demonstrated a skillset they didn’t necessarily have on tap which was – I don’t know if I planned that, but it turned out to be a very good move, anyway.

Did that for a little while, by which point I knew a lot of people, and then coincidentally, in Oxford, the university museums were part of a heritage lottery funded programme called Skills for the Future, which was various things in various places, but in Oxford, it was about museum education. So it was about training people who might otherwise find it difficult to get into the museum sector, in the skills they would need to work in museum education.

I was told about this through my connections through volunteering, and I applied for that, and I think I was really lucky, because there were four places, and I got one of the four places.

So I did that, and that was eighteen months of working six months each in three of the museums here. By the time I’d got to the end of the eighteen months, I kind of knew everybody in the museums in Oxford, and I just tried really hard actually, in that time – basically if you get an opportunity to put yourself in front of people, the way I approached it anyway, at least, was to try and demonstrate as many things as I could do in as short amount of time.

So photography was one, doing bits of video editing was another, writing was another, I can do a bit of this, a bit of this, and you end up – well, it got to the end of the eighteen months, and I got offered little bits of work, a part-time job here, a part-time job at another museum, and I think I had shown enough versatility, it was hard to let go of me at that point.

And that eventually, through a series of temporary contracts and so on, led to the post I’ve got now, which is just at the Museum of Natural History. So that was the route.

The connecting bit which I didn’t mention actually was that I did for a while write about museums as a journalist, so I came in to the volunteering here saying, I’m really interested in museums, I’m a journalist and I write about museums for the Museums Journal, for example. So it was the bridging bit between.

I was probably mid-thirties, late thirties at that point, so it wasn’t necessary that easy to completely change – I know it’s not that old, but to switch out of one career and into another is always a bit tricky, isn’t it. So helped by the HLF Skills for the Future project, and then, anyway, it worked.

[Question on screen: What advice do you have for people who are looking to work in museums?]

Scott: So getting into museums is in high demand, and there are a relatively limited number of opportunities, I guess. In my experience, the best thing you can do is probably volunteer, or offer to volunteer, because that is the opportunity you get to just demonstrate what you can do.

And as with most things in life, if you’re pleasant and nice, and get on with people, and do things well, people tend to hang onto you, or ask you to come back. That’s a fairly obvious thing to say, but you can only do that if you can get in front of people who are already working there.

My route in was not the through the traditional, or through a museum studies course. I’m not sure anyone in our team is. That’s not to say those courses are not valid, and a lot of people have done those and gone on to work in museums, but I think that if you’re not able to, or you’re trying to change career or something, like I did, then volunteering is a really good way to go.

[Question on screen: How is the museum sector developing?]

Scott: One of the big focuses for the Museums in the University of Oxford here at the moment, and probably as a wider movement, particularly in university museums, which is what I’m working in, is to use the popular public space of the museum to connect with the academic research of the university institution.

So we’re doing a lot of work at the moment about how we can create exhibitions, a programme of events, and various activities that brings researchers to the public or publics, if you like, at large. And allows visitors to the museum to connect, and have some dialogue and awareness of the range of work that’s going on at the university. So we spend quite a lot of time thinking about that at the moment.

The other thing that comes around and around, but it is certainly always relevant, is the extent to which museums can deal with difficult or contentious social issues, so about how museums deal with debate and confrontation.

For us in the science museum, that might be more science-based issues, so it might be climate change, or it might be energy use, or fracking, or ecology, ecological damage or whatever, but it’s cracking the nut of helping museums to be a place of debate and discussion. It’s one of the topics that’s always flying around, I think everyone’s thinking about it.

Carly Smith-Higgins


Transcript: Carly Smith-Huggins - Families Officer

[Question on screen: What is your role at the museum?]

Carly: I’m Carly Smith-Huggins and I work at the Natural History Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, and my main roles and responsibilities include engaging with the public, and that’s in the sense of engaging the public with collections that we have in the museum.

So my role involves organising events for a variety of audiences, including families and adult visitors that come to the museum, as well as people who are wanting to come to the museum in their free time, so working with young people, and having a youth group that I work on.

I’m also responsible for creating resources for people to use on their visit around the museum, so looking at displays and how we can help people to engage with those displays on an independent visit.

I’m involved in a lot of project managing of events, and making sure that everybody knows where they need to be, and where they need to be at what time. And I’m also looking at science in different cultures from around the world, so it’s a really interesting job in that sense.

[Question on screen: What skills do you need for your role?]

Carly: The main skills that I use within my role, I’d say the most important for me is organisation. So running lots of events, you have to be quite organised and on top of things, so that’s the main thing I would use.

But I also think creativity is really important, so you’ve got to be able to think creatively, to think about how other people might interpret things in the collection. So you’re looking at a display, you’ve got to think about how a variety of audiences might look at that object that you’re looking at, and take your own personal feelings away from that, and think about how you might make that engaging for somebody.

[Question on screen: How did you get into your role?]

Carly: My career path started when I studied art at university, and I did a BA in Fine Art. I was always interested in being creative, and looking at how people perceive art work, so that kind of led me onto museum education, because it’s looking at, again, the main part of museum education is looking at how people look at the collections, and how we can help interpret that.

I’ve always wanted to work with people as well, particularly children, that’s my main interest, working with children. I tried out lots of different things, I went to a summer camp, and I went to do some work experience as a teacher, and I realised I would like to work with children but more in an informal setting, so I thought museums might be the perfect place, because lots of children do come to the museum, and we can help them have fun here, and also learn things as well.

So that’s what got me here, and I did a lot of volunteering from when I realised that’s what I wanted to do. I volunteered in a variety of places, a life boat museum, a puppet theatre, so I had a good range of collections and things to explore. And I think that variety has really helped me to get to where I am today, because the collections I work in are very diverse, and they have a lot of different topics.

So, for example, the Museum of Natural History is a science-based topic, but art is my background, so you would think, ooh, that doesn’t quite work, but having that experience of a variety of different collections has helped me to think more broadly about that, and to think about how I can help people to engage in science in a way that is fun, but without having to be the person that is all knowledge of science.

[Question on screen: What advice do you have for people who are looking to work in museums?

Carly: What I would recommend to people looking to get into this role is to try out things. So I’d probably go and volunteer at a museum first to see if that’s what I wanted to do, if that was the right kind of thing for me. I’d think about what kind of audience I want to work with – is it a variety of audiences, is it just one specific audience that I like? Volunteering will really help you with that, because you’ll be able to work with families, for example, and see if you really enjoy that, and what it is you enjoy about it.

I’d also recommend trying to do some shadowing or something like that, of somebody who is already an education officer. So for me, I had the opportunity to do that, and that was really valuable because I got to see the nitty-gritty of what they did, rather than just the picture you see from the outside. So you get to see, like I was talking about earlier, the organisation isn’t something that you always see when you look at it from the outside, but there’s a lot of little things that go into making the bigger picture, which I think helped me when I was shadowing somebody, so that’s what I would recommend.

[Question on screen: How is the museum sector developing?]

Carly: I think one big thing that’s going on in the sector at the moment is looking at resilience, so how can the museum keep themselves going. So looking at ways that we can fund ourselves, so that’s something that we think about, and valuation comes into that a lot, because we’re looking at what the impact of our programmes are.

So I think particularly if you’re thinking about going into the museum sector, thinking about the bigger picture is always really useful because your job will be involved that idea of how do we sustain this, how do we keep ourselves going. I think that’s really important if you are wanting a career in the museum sector, because it is a very vulnerable sector in that way.

Amo Spooner


Transcript: Amo Spooner - Collections Manager

[Question on screen: What is your role at the museum?]

Amo: My name’s Amo Spooner. I work here in the life collections department, that’s my role, specifically focusing on entomology, so I’m Collections Manager for some of the insect collections here at the museum.

My basic job is doing a lot of loans and enquiries for people across the world who are interested in insects, as well as moving historic collections from non-pest proof housing into pest-proof housing, to basically preserve them for the next hundred – or hopefully forever, in theory – so many years.

I also look after live collections here, so about 90% of my job is dead insects, and the other 10% is live insects, so we have some live insects on display, and also behind the scenes. Part of it is outreach, and that kind of thing.

[Question on screen: What skills do you need for your role?]

Amo: A lot of manual dexterity is quite important for us, there’s a lot of microscope work, and obviously insects are very small. So good hand-eye coordination and that kind of thing helps a lot.

I deal a lot with the public, so trying to get the importance of insects and collections across for a range of people, from four year-olds up to OAPs, who come in for collections, so it’s quite specialised, I guess, trying to show the importance of collections and what we do.

[Question on screen: How did you get into your role?]

Amo: My background is actually veterinary nursing, so I trained as a veterinary nurse for four years, with a degree at Sparsholt college, and then realised it wasn’t quite for me, and then decided to start volunteering here in the collections.

I volunteered for about two years, just under a thousand hours’ volunteering, or something like that, until a job opportunity came up. I had an interview, didn’t get it, for a position for historic collections management. I continued to volunteer, carried on, and another year later, another job opportunity came up, so luckily got that.

That was a ten month position, literally moving insect collections from one place to another, and looking after live stuff, and then from there, just rolling contracts, and then eventually got made permanent a couple of years ago.

It’s changed quite a lot over the time. A different role. It’s very different to vet nursing. Live, fluffy things to dead insects is not the most obvious route, but I’ve always been interested in insects, always really loved them. My granddad got me into them when I was really small, and it’s like, actually maybe there’s something I could do there. I was just really lucky to be able to get given the opportunity.

[Question on screen: What advice do you have for people who are looking to work in museums?]

Amo: To get into museum work can be quite tricky, but volunteering has obviously worked really well for me, and I would definitely recommend it. Either you know what you’re interested in and can go straight to that collection like I did, I went straight into the entomology world, or volunteers get the opportunity to move round different collections. So if you want to be in public engagement, they do object handling with the public, and things like that, so it’s a good way of just sussing out if it is actually for you or not.

With us, you can move round different museums as well, so you’ve got the opportunity to try art at the Ashmolean, all these varying things, so I would really recommend that route.

It’s great if you’ve got a science background, or something that will help you. So with us, natural history helps, obviously. I can touch on my veterinary nursing at times, it’s sort of related, the general science. But I think getting your hand in, and making connections as well, is a good way to do it.

[Question on screen: How is the museum sector developing?]

Amo: The sector’s changed quite a lot since I’ve been in museums, from my point of view. There’s a lot more outreach now, a lot more public-focused, public engagement, and more research as well. Obviously a lot of people that contact me are researchers, and they’re interested in the collections. There’s a big push for that now, and there’s where the funding is, really.

It’s not so much the collections side of things, but where the collections is mentioned, it’s more storage. That’s a massive thing at the moment, so a lot of insect collections are having changes, big moves, so moving from old furniture to new, and rehousing, and just getting staff in to do that. Conserving it all for the future.

There’s a few different aspects going on, but yeah, public engagement is definitely, getting people in, making people realise what we do, because a lot of people don’t know what we do behind the scenes, especially. It’s like, what do you actually do for a job? It’s quite interesting to be able to explain that to them.

Nicola Bird


Transcript: Nicola Bird - Community Engagement Officer

[Question on screen: What is your role at the museum?]

Nicola: My name’s Nicola Bird, and I am a Community Engagement Officer, and my main roles and responsibilities are engaging different people with the museums, and they usually fall under the wide category of people who don’t usually visit museums, or have barriers to visiting museums.

Those barriers could be physical, such as disabilities, people who are blind, or they can be physical because people are in hospital, and can’t actually get to the museums. It could be due to isolation, because people are old and they’re far away from the museums. Or it can be cultural, because people are brought up not really visiting museums, so it’s not on their radar. It could be people from different countries, and visiting museums isn’t something people do from their home countries, so they don’t think about doing it here.

And it could be making the museums also more accessible to different people. People who visit the museums are comfortable about visiting museums, and there’s a reason why that is, and that’s because museums are accessible to them. So our job is to move the museums forwards, so they are more accessible to a wider range of people than those who are comfortable visiting.

And that could be based on levels of literacy, it could be based on English language, it could be based on, if you’re blind or partially sighted, we do tours, so it’s all about breaking down barriers for people to access this resource which is free to everybody else.

[Question on screen: What skills do you need for your role?]

Nicola: I think the main skills you need in my role are people skills. You have to really understand people from their point of view. You can’t approach lots of different people from a museum’s point of view all the time, and you also can’t judge. You can’t think that people aren’t as intelligent as they need to be, or it’s their fault, so the skills are really understanding where people are coming from, and really respecting that view point as well.

It’s really important you don’t see everyone else as the problem, and they come to you. It’s actually the other way round. The reason there is a barrier is usually because the museums themselves aren’t providing access, rather than the person experiencing the barrier. So one is understanding and respect.

Also the other skills are being able to grade your language, because we meet lots of people whose English isn’t their first language, so understanding that, as well. Also, understanding physical disabilities, and the access requirements around improving access for people with physical disabilities, such as physical access, or people with learning disabilities, or blind, partially sighted, or deaf, or anything around those areas, really.

Also, you have to be able to be really quite organised. We work a lot outside the museum. I’d say about 80% of our work is outside, and we are always running to somewhere, arranging our next visit, and that involves an awful lot of work.

There’s also a lot of safeguarding in our work, because we deal with a lot of vulnerable adults. There’s a lot of partnership building, so there’s a lot of meetings, but also it’s the skills of maintaining partnerships over a long period of time, and creating solid partnerships, and really understanding why people work with you.

So for example, when we work with someone from the mental health charity Mind, they’re not just working with us because we’re a museum, they work with us because we understand why or how they support their service users. So they’re supporting their service users, for example, with long and enduring mental illnesses, so we’re there to give people reasons to be inspired by museums, to be interested, to do something outside of the home, to reignite a passion for something, so people can share what they know about a lot of information.

Because what’s really interesting is people get grouped by the group that they’re with, so if you are accessing the services of Mind, the mental health charity, you might have a PhD in natural history or zoology, but suddenly your only defining character is the fact you have a mental health problem. So what this does is flip it on its head, and it provides people the opportunity to just chat about stuff things they know, and the objects in the museum is like a vehicle for steering through that, really.

[Question on screen: How did you get into your role?]

Nicola: I studied social anthropology many years ago now, about twenty years ago, and from that I have always been in adult education, so that was in business, but also it was in ESOL, and English language teaching as well. So I did all the travelling abroad, teaching English as a foreign language, when I was in my twenties.

And then as I settled in Oxford, I was teaching ESOL, which is English for speakers of other languages, and also I was teaching literacy and numeracy to adults. So the ESOL was for people with English language needs, and also for refugees and asylum seekers, and the literacy and numeracy was for people who didn’t have their GCSEs, adults who wanted to get their Level 2. And the motivating factors were usually their children’s homework, but could also be improving career prospects, etc., etc.

So this was called community education, and so I worked for Oxfordshire county council for about ten years, and I managed the Oxford community learning programme, which was to do with literacy, numeracy and ESOL. And then from there – I worked in the community for about ten years previous to this – and from that, I was looking to change my role, but not change the underlying community focus, so I wanted to remain focused in the community, but I just wanted a career change.

And then this job came up and I think I got into this role, despite studying social anthropology years ago, I got into this role because of my connections into the community. I was already embedded in the community, and still now I meet people all the time who recognise me as their English teacher from fifteen years ago, but through the museums as well.

So I came with very little museum experience, however with a lot of experience in what the focus of this role was, and that’s in community partnerships, community learning and teaching, and building a rapport with lots of different people.

[Question on screen: What advice do you have for people who are looking to work in museums?]

Nicola: I think this is quite a popular sector at the moment, and I think you need to bring something unique to it. So I think you need, rather than going through the usual channels of museum studies, etc. etc., I think what would benefit the sector, and what is benefiting the sector, is people are coming at it with fresh eyes, so you’re not institutionalised before you start, basically. You’re looking at the museums with fresh eyes because you’ve come from a different direction.

My advice is to get lots of experience in something that you love, and then bring that to the museum and then see. The museums will always benefit from changing and evolving, and the audience for a museum is everybody, and so you need to bring something to that which is going to diversify the museum, its audiences, the direction it’s going in, and its research paths.

You need to find your niche and bring that to the museum, rather than come to the museum as a ready-made museum employee. I’m not sure it’ll work that way much anymore, because museum work is so popular.

[Question on screen: How is the museum sector developing?]

Nicola: I think the museums are realising now that if you want to broaden who you reach out to, you have to do things differently. And that is, you have to not necessarily have to be the voice of authority, or the voice of the learned, in fact you need to approach people saying, you can help us evolve. So yes, we have all these objects and we have all this specialist knowledge, but actually what you’ve got outside is lots of other viewpoints, lots of other different angles, which are all as relevant as the angles the museum sees.

Like objects from, or parts of history from, and for the museums to actually be a platform for the diverse voices that they represent, really, so I think they’re moving towards a lot more co-curation, co-collaboration, co-designing exhibitions, permanent exhibitions and temporary exhibitions, really bringing in multiple voices and multiple layers of interpretation.

I think that’s really exciting, because we’re moving away from where museums were developed originally, and what we’re doing now, we’re moving into the society we are at the moment, and that is one of many viewpoints, equally as valid, and I think we need to give a platform for those, so I think that’s where it’s moving.

Krista Baker


Transcript: Krista Baker – Front of House Manager

[Question on screen: What is your role at the museum?]

Krista: My name is Krista Baker, and I am the Front of House Manager here at the Museum of Natural History. And my main duties are, I oversee the front of house team, which is a team of about ten people, and we do all of the welcoming, making sure that everything is safe in the museum, and interacting with visitors on a day-to-day basis.

[Question on screen: What skills do you need for your role?]

Krista: The main skills that I use in my role is probably a combination of management and communication skills to run the team, and to make sure that they’re all okay, and happy within their individual roles.

But also, it’s a customer-facing role, so I talk to visitors every day, and interact with them, and so being able to communicate appropriately with children of two to grandparents of ninety-six, and everyone in between, with different languages, is really important, and being able to give clear guidance as to whereabouts in the museum things are, as well.

And I also need to be very observant within the museum because we fulfil a safety and security role, so watching out for problems that might arise, or trip hazards, and making sure they’re dealt with quickly and safely.

[Question on screen: How did you get into your role?]

Krista: I did an undergraduate degree in classical studies and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. After that, I did a year of volunteering with the Christian Union there, and thought I would do some volunteering on the side to get some extra-curricular experience, and whilst I there, I volunteered at Liverpool World Museum, and the other museums within the National Museum of Liverpool.

And I really enjoyed it, I really liked getting to grips with interacting with visitors, and also some of the behind-the-scenes things, and conservation, and thought that it would be a really good career path to try and head down. So then I worked at getting my volunteer experience higher, so that I had a lot of experience to show to employers, but also a broad range, so that I could kind of choose what I wanted to do.

Then I moved to Manchester to do the museum studies course, Art Gallery and Museum Studies Masters at Manchester University. I studied part-time for the Masters whilst working full-time in the Student Union as a Front-of-House Assistant, and so I carried on developing my customer service skills whilst also studying in a museum context, and doing placements and things.

I then got a job after my course finished. I got a job at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre near Macclesfield, also as a Visitor Services Assistant, which developed into that role plus Marketing and Development Officer. And so from there, using the skills gained from working there and other roles, I applied for this job, and it was kind of my ideal job, so I never thought there’d be a chance that I would get it, but I did. And so now I am the Front-of-House Manager at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford.

[Question on screen: What advice do you have for people who are looking to work in museums?]

Krista: I think my best tips for getting into front-of-house in the museum sector is getting as much experience as possible. The volunteering opportunities in museums are vast. There’s volunteer teams in almost every museum that are looking for volunteers. And that is probably the best way to get the experience.

I’d also say it’s really valuable to have experience in other areas, so finding customer service opportunities and employment in other places. And when we’re hiring people, that’s one of the things we look for, as well. If they’ve worked in a place where we know that there is good customer service, we expect that person will fulfil that role quite well. I think it is all about experience and building on that.

[Question on screen: How is the museum sector developing?]

Krista: I think that what I’ve noticed is that museums are getting busier. There’s a lot more – especially at this museum, so one of the current trends is we seem to be getting more and more people through the door each month, compared to the year before, and that means that we need more staff in order to cater for all these people.

I think that there is a trend that maybe the London museums have reached a peak, and so the museums around the rest of the UK seem to be getting busier whilst London has hit their plateau for now.

Useful links

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Postgraduate Study

Many Arts and Humanities students undertake further study on completion of their first degree and/or after gaining relevant work experience. Reasons for doing so include wanting to explore an aspect of their studies in more depth, to further or change their career, because a specific postgraduate qualification is an entry requirement for their career of choice or would be an advantage if entry is competitive. Examples of unrelated vocational options potentially available to Arts and Humanities graduates include law, social work, I.T and nursing.

There are a range of Arts and Humanities focused OU postgraduate study options, both taught and research awards, in subjects such as Humanities, English, Philosophy, History, Music and Art History. These can open up opportunities to work in higher education and in areas such as teaching, arts and cultural administration and management, public administration, writing and journalism, librarianship, the media and advertising and the heritage sector.

It is important to research further study options comprehensively by exploring the range of postgraduate courses and research opportunities on offer, and funding possibilities, to ensure you make the correct choice, for the right reasons and importantly that you can afford it, as funding for postgraduate study is very different to the undergraduate system.

Last updated 5 months ago