The low down on jobs in museums

4 Nov 2022 / Artisan People

Jobs in museums

The UK has always been a must-visit destination for any lover of history, culture or the arts. Our world-famous museums showcase all manner of exhibits, from the prehistoric to the contemporary. But today’s museums do so much more than provide a retirement home for forgotten curiosities. With their blockbuster exhibitions and immersive experiences, institutions such as the British Museum and the V&A are regularly among the most visited attractions in the country. And with many permanent collections free to visit, anyone can enjoy this priceless history.

Museums need an army of staff to ensure everyone who walks through their doors makes the most out of their time there. That’s why they offer a diverse range of temporary, seasonal and permanent roles – many more than you might think!

At Artisan People, we work with some of the UK’s most iconic institutions, providing staffing for one-off exhibitions as well as regular day-to-day installations. We thought it would be a good idea to provide more details on the museum job opportunities available.

Front-of-house roles

At the heart of every museum is the visitor experience. Front-of-house staff are responsible for making sure that experience is always the best it can be. Here are some examples of customer-facing positions in museums, as well as the key duties involved:

  • Visitor services: Ensuring all visitors receive a warm welcome, answering any questions and maintaining high standards of customer service throughout.
  • Admissions/ticketing: Managing ticketing systems efficiently and issuing tickets to visitors face-to-face or over the phone.
  • Retail: Providing in-store customer service, processing transactions and keeping the store running efficiently.
  • Ushers/queue busters: Helping visitors find their way around, or entertaining visitors as they wait in line to view popular exhibits.
  • Invigilators/security staff: Keeping visitors safe as well as protecting the exhibits on display and enforcing any museum rules.
  • Tour guides: Escorting groups around the museum, educating and entertaining them as they view the displays.

Experience or formal qualifications aren’t always essential for these customer-facing roles – what we’re looking for is personality, positivity and passion. You’ll be the face of the museum, so you’ll need to be a real people-person with impeccable customer service skills. You should also have a keen interest in history, archaeology or antiquities, so you can pass your passion on to visitors and provide them with a memorable experience.

When thinking about applying for any customer-facing role – particularly as an invigilator or security staff – consider obtaining Security Industry Authority (SIA) certification, as this is something that is increasingly being asked for by our clients in this sector.

Many museums offer flexible work which is ideal if you’re looking for a role that will fit in around other commitments. However, you’ll also need to be flexible about your hours – museums are usually open seven days a week, all year round, with some late-nights.

Back-office roles

Every museum needs a variety of back-office staff to keep things running smoothly. Permanent roles range from administrative and reception to marketing/PR and management positions. Most museums also organise special exhibitions and events to draw in the crowds, so there are always temporary vacancies coming through to support those behind the scenes.

One key back-office area we have seen growth in since the pandemic is IT. Most museums offer virtual experiences during lockdowns, and although in-person visitor numbers are bouncing back, we expect these experiences to become an integral part of what museums offer – and this will mean continued demand for IT experts.

Kickstart your museum career

Whether a front-of-house role appeals or you’d prefer to work behind the scenes, careers in the museum sector are highly sought-after and permanent roles can be few and far between. If you’re interested in a museum career, our advice would be to get your foot in the door via a temporary or seasonal role. This will give you the opportunity to prove yourself, make contacts and be in the right place at the right time when something permanent arises.

At Artisan People, we work with many of the country’s most iconic museums, and we are always looking for superstar candidates for a diverse range of roles in London and nationwide – take a look at our current museum jobs and contact us for more information.


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