Heritage Careers

Over the next four days, all over England, there are hundreds of properties open to the public for free, as part of Heritage Open Days 2008. Whether you’re Manchester born and bred or have travelled thousands of miles to be at the university, it’s a great way to find little known sites of architectural and cultural interest across the country, including dozens in Greater Manchester – and it only happens once a year.

A bit harder however, is finding work in the “heritage industry”, but there are resources and schemes out there which could help you find a way in.

The Prospects website not only has advertised jobs, but also has in depth information on over 400 types of job, including those in Heritage and Museums Management. Information covers what the jobs involve, case studies, how to get in, whether a postgraduate degree is helpful or whether you need work experience (paid or unpaid – this is frequently an essential part of breaking into these fields), the salaries, links to vacancies and employers and more. Some of the jobs they cover include Heritage Manager, Museums Curator, Museums/Gallery Exhibition Officer and Archivist.

I did a quick search for heritage management jobs currently being advertised, and I was pleasantly surprised that they are out there, though most, obviously, will require experience. However, even if you don’t have the experience at the moment for your ideal job, if you find yourself inspired by a job which is being advertised, at least you can see what they do require, and devise your own career strategy for getting your dream job a few years down the road. Some of the vacancy sources you might find interesting are :

  • ArtsHub Jobs – currently over 200 jobs advertised in the Arts for the UK. Some are at very junior levels, but they cover the whole range up to Director for The Poetry Society (I know, not really heritage related, but I had to get that job in somehow).
  • Guardian jobs in Arts & Heritage – 240 in this category, but only 10 in “Heritage” plus another 40 in “Museums and Galleries”. For example, if anyone is into small arms and military history, the Royal Gunpowder Mill in Essex wants to hear from you.
  • Museum Jobs – if you’re studying for our MA in ArtGallery and Museum Studies, you’ll already know about this, but you might not have heard about it if you’re not on that course, but still want to apply your passion for your subject in a museum setting.

A different route into the heritage industry which might appeal to any of you who want to look at a radical career change is the Careership programme from the National Trust. They recruit once a year (this year, vacancies were advertised for just a week and a half, in April) for the chance to re-train as a National Trust Countryside Warden or Gardener. As an employed trainee, you combine work at a Trust site with college attendance, gaining NVQ qualifications. The scheme attracts both graduates and school leavers, but you must have a real passion for conservation and working outdoors (in any weather). It’s not a well trodden route for postgrads, I’ll admit, but I do see postgrads (and postdocs) who are now ready to do something radically different from academic study and research – this is a test of whether you really mean it …

And finally, what made me write this post? Well, the trigger was my long planned visit to one Heritage Open Day which caught my imagination. As I live near Chester, there are plenty to choose from, but this weekend, I’m hot-footing it to see the remains of the Roman hypocaust – in Spud-U-Like (how could I resist that one?).

I'll have the Dormouse Special to go ...