There are many employment opportunities within this fascinating sector that allow you to specialise in unique areas of interest. This can include anything from museum curation and conservation to exhibition design and management.
Alongside your degree, demonstrating a passion for working in your desired field is needed. Gaining relevant work experience will be vital to begin a career in this increasingly competitive sector.
Where do I start?
With such a variety of roles available within the Heritage and Culture sector, having an understanding of the sorts of roles available is a good starting point for your career planning. Prospects has a useful list of sector-specific job profiles that outline key responsibilities, skills requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and graduate vacancies.
Job profiles accordian
The list of job roles below provides you with a starting point, you can then look at other related jobs:
Commercial Art Gallery Manager
Community Arts Worker
Historic Buildings Inspector / Conservation Officer
Museum Education Officer
Museum / Gallery Curator
Museum / Gallery Exhibitions Officer
Alternatively, icould provide a range of short and insightful career videos into several job types within this sector.
Getting experience in the sector
Jobs within this sector are highly competitive and gaining some prior work experience within your preferred area will provide you with a strong advantage when applying for graduate opportunities. Undertaking work experience is invaluable in developing expertise and the all-important transferable skills, which will help you demonstrate your motivation and commitment to this area of work.
It is important to note here, however, that although it is greatly encouraged to find directly relevant experience where you can, due to the nature of availability of the roles within this sector it might not always be possible. In this case do still consider taking up other opportunities within museums or visitor attractions that allow you to work in that environment such as shop assistants, waiting staff and customer services. Gaining this type of work initially can provide a great stepping stone toward gaining your ideal position and provides an opportunity to increase your contacts within the industry.
Placements, internships and volunteering opportunities are available within a number of organisations specialising in heritage and culture. Gaining these relevant experiences will really help to discover whether working in this area is something you enjoy and would like to progress further with after graduation.
However, finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through our Complete CV Writing Guide.
In addition to exploring advertised opportunities, consider extending your search to the hidden jobs market. This can be achieved through directly contacting organisations of interest with a speculative application (usually a CV and cover letter). Further information about these applications and how they differ from applying for advertised positions can be found on our Guide to Speculative Applications page.
Where to look for work experience
Listed below are some potential places to consider starting your search locally, however, please note they cannot be guaranteed. As such we would also recommend undertaking your own research to broaden your search. Gaining any type of work experience within a heritage or cultural setting from part-time work to volunteering will all be hugely valuable. Entry-level graduate opportunities are less common than other sectors but certainly do exist so it’s also worth keeping an eye out for these as you reach your final year and start to map a career plan early.
Butser Ancient Farm
Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens
Hampshire Cultural Trust
Portchester Castle (English Heritage)
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Royal Garrison Church (English Heritage)
The D-Day Story
Weald & Downland Living Museum
Work placements provide an invaluable insight into working life and offer you the opportunity to apply the industry knowledge you are learning as part of your studies to a practical setting. Many courses at the University of Portsmouth enable you to complete a year’s work placement or self-employment placement should you choose to.
For more information on placements including support with sourcing opportunities and contact details for your Placements Office visit our placements page.
Internships usually take place over a fixed period of time (although the length of these can vary greatly between employers and between roles). Internships provide an excellent opportunity to gain more hands-on experience within a field of interest and you may wish to take up more than one to get a feel for working within different areas or to build further experience. Many employers will treat internships in the same way as full-time employment, so when a graduate role asks for ‘at least one years experience’ you can count your internship experience(s) towards this.
Many larger organisations offer internships from time to time, especially over the summer so it would be worth checking out the careers pages for individual organisations to see whether this is something that can be provided. More information about internships can be found on our Placements and Internships web page.
Organisations in the sector often rely on volunteers within the Heritage and Culture sector. Our very own Volunteering Team have previously worked with Portsmouth Museums, Portsmouth Historic Dockyards and the Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf and all of these have provided excellent opportunities for students over the years.
Find out more about how Careers and Employability can support you with your voluntary work experience via the Get involved in volunteering section of our website.
Another way to build on your volunteering skills would be to join a club or society. Joining a club or society that shares a link with your future career plans or allows you to build on transferable skills and knowledge that can really support your graduate applications. It also provides a fantastic opportunity to enjoy something outside of your studies with like-minded individuals. Once you’ve had some time to get settled into your chosen society, consider taking on some additional responsibility by taking on a project and/or becoming a committee member that could give you that competitive edge. Refer to the UPSU Society page to see which societies you can get involved with.
Graduate routes and options
Compared to other sectors traditionally there are generally very few graduate schemes offered by organisations specialising in heritage and culture although a few larger funded organisations such as the National Trust and Wellcome Trust may have these from time to time. A few organisations such as the Windsor Fellowship provide internship opportunities for graduates such as their Heritage Fund Graduate Traineeship Programme. This particular opportunity is exclusively available to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants.
The majority of graduates seeking work in the Heritage and Culture sector usually enter into their first role as an assistant (or similar) before progressing into more senior positions as more experience, skills and contacts within the industry are accumulated. Volunteering experience within a related area is highly advantageous and the majority of successful candidates entering these initial positions will have had this voluntary experience.
If you are looking for SME opportunities within the Portsmouth and Hampshire area, our own Graduate Recruitment Consultancy may be able to support you with finding an opportunity with a local employer. More information about their services and how to register in your final year can be found on our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy webpage.
If you are looking to pursue an academic or specialist career within the sector you may find a postgraduate course is a requirement to achieve your desired career. In other professions a postgraduate qualification can provide you with a competitive edge (but not always). When mapping out your career plans it is important to consider what role a postgraduate qualification will play in this and in many cases practical work experience in your preferred industry can often be just as important to an employer than gaining some further study, if not more. Undertaking some research into the requirements of your role by reading existing job adverts and detailed descriptions or using careers information such as Prospects Job Profiles can provide a good indicator of what experience the employer is looking for from their applicants.
Online learning and development
Although it is still highly recommended to gain some practical experience within your desired sector prior to securing a placement or graduate opportunity, if you find yourself with some unexpected free time, there are always ways to make yourself stand out as you enter the competitive world of recruitment. Whether this is taking some time to research and understand more about organisations you’re interested in; attending an online event; or taking up online courses to develop your skills, there is always something to be gained.
LinkedIn Learning is a digital library that provides you with access to over 40,000 high-quality training videos that specialise in developing your professional skills. As a current University of Portsmouth student you will have complimentary access to this resource and you can add recognition of your achievement and completed courses to your LinkedIn Profile. Further information about how to get started can be found via our LinkedIn Learning portal.
The possibilities of online resources are endless and there are many other self-development and learning tools out there to support you with your employability and in preparing you for your future career. Examples of some other resources to consider include:
Useful links and resources
- Ancient Monument Society
- Archives and Records Association
- Creative Access
- CILIP (The Library and Information Association)
- English Heritage
- Historic Royal Palaces
- The Institute of Conservation (ICON)
- International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)
- International Council of Museums (ICOM)
- Imperial War Museums (IWM)
- Museums Association
- Museums Job Desk - University of Leicester
- Museum Jobs
- National Museum Directors' Council (nmdc)
- National Trust
- National Trust Scotland
- Natural History Museum
- Royal Collection Trust
- Save Britain’s Heritage
- The Science Museum Group
- The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)
- Twentieth Century Society
- V & A Museum
- Visit Britain
- Wellcome Trust
The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- CV and covering letters
- Application forms
- Further study
- Job search
We have an online jobs board, MyCareer advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.