When we think about the jobs that people do in museums, we often think of the curators who put together the exhibitions that we see, and maybe the visitor assistants, or front of house staff, who greet us when we arrive and can help us find our way through the museum or direct us to certain objects of interest.
But what about all the other roles, many of which are behind the scenes? In 2019 Historic England calculated that there were over 464,000 people employed in the heritage sector in England. Below is a list of common jobs that most museums need people to do, it is split into two sections; front of house and behind the scenes.
Front of House
These are job roles within the museum and heritage industry that the public will most likely have direct interaction with. Potential applicants for these posts (see examples below) need to be flexible, friendly and approachable and have good verbal communication skills.
- Learning Officer: Writes and delivers workshops for schools and families.
- Café worker: Makes and sells hot and cold drinks and sometimes food.
- Front desk: Welcomes visitors, sells tickets for museum entry.
- Cleaner: Keeps the site clean and safe.
- Retail manager: Decides what to sell in the shops and manages shop staff
- Shop assistant: sells souvenirs from museum shop.
- Guide: shows people around the museum and its collection.
- Community Officer: Engages a wide variety of local people in the museum through a range of organised activities.
Behind the Scenes
The people who work within these roles in the museum and heritage industry typically work in an office or workshop and are not seen as often by visiting public. The skills in these positions tends to be more specialised such as curatorial knowledge.
- Curator: decides what objects to collect, what items go on display and what information goes into an exhibition
- Conservator: maintains, cleans and repairs museum objects
- Marketing: Advertises and promotes the museum to the public
- Display technician: designs and builds cases and displays for museum objects.
- Archivist: collects, organises and preserves paper based materials. Provides access to records.
- Fundraising: Finds ways to generate money for the site either from individual people or large companies
Larger museums, such as the national organisations may also have:
- Researchers and scientists: Research into specialist topics which may be published in a journal or book and may influence the future.
- Digital specialists: design and create digital material.
- Graphic designers: creates visual (often digital) imagery.
- Web developers: create and maintain websites and their content.
As well as paid positions within museums there can be many opportunities to volunteer. These positions can be taken by anyone who is enthusiastic to be involved.
Volunteer opportunities are often taken up by people wanting to develop their skills and career prospects and improve their CV. Volunteer positions can be extremely varied, below is a list of volunteer roles Leeds Museums have facilitated in the past: