How to Get a Job in a Museum

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For many people, working in a museum is an exciting prospect. Getting out of the stuffy office environment and into interesting or educational surroundings offers the perfect alternative to the traditional 9-5 job. Museums offer many career opportunities, even if you didn’t major in art history or medieval art in college. Like most other businesses, museums need people in public relations, advertising, accounting, membership, education and many other fields. In the following article you will read about some ideas on how to get your foot in the door.

Things You'll Need

  • Updated resume
  • List of museums to consider
  • Some museum literature can be helpful

How to Get a Job in a Museum

  • To score a job in a museum, you first need to decide what type of museum interests you. There are museums that focus on contemporary art, science, natural history, sculpture, as well as dozens of other subjects. Knowing the type of museum that you would like to work for will help you narrow your list of potential employers. Do some research on museums in your area and get to know their focus or mission.

  • When you have narrowed down your list, do some extensive research on your choices. Get to know everything about these museums and how they function. With this knowledge you might be able to eliminate some alternatives due to size, operational model or even schedule. As with any potential employer, the more that you know about them, the better prepared you will be. Upon completion of this step, you should have a short list of museums to consider.

  • From the list you compiled in step 2, make a decision on the order of priority that you would like to assign to these museums. This will help you focus your efforts on one museum at a time and know where to go if your first choice doesn't work out.

  • Next, plan a visit to the museum first on your list. Spend some time looking around the collection, as well as the facility and grounds. Talk to the museum employees that you meet and determine if they are the type of people that you could work with on a daily basis. Be sure to visit every part of the museum including any cafes, restaurants or gift shops. Try to get a handle on where the administration offices are located or if they are even in the same building. If these offices are located elsewhere, this might defeat the purpose of applying with this museum.

  • If you are happy with your choice, begin by visiting the museum Web site and determining how they handle applications. There might be an online application process or instructions on how to contact the H.R. Department. This is a great first step in applying to the museum, but may not be your last step. If you are given the option of submitting a resume or application, go ahead and do so. As with any business, obtaining a job in a museum may take more effort than an online application.

  • Once you've submitted your application, contact the museum as a follow up and inquire about employment possibilities. Even if they are not currently hiring full time employees, there are often opportunities for interns, volunteers or part time jobs. Although this might not be your ideal situation, it might be a great starting point for other careers. Be open to alternative options that might lead to other opportunities.

Tips & Warnings

  • Volunteering at a museum is a great way to get to know the staff and find out about employment opportunities.
  • Most museums take on Interns in many different departments. This is often a good way to present your skills to the museum staff.
  • Apply to be a Museum Docent. Docents give guided tours to school groups and tourists. Again, this is a great way to get noticed.
  • Consider joining the museum as a member. You will be invited to events where you can get to know the staff and management.
  • If you have the means, donate something to the museum collection. This will definitely get you noticed.
  • Unless you're an experienced expert, don't try to dazzle museum staff with your Art History 101 knowledge.
  • Avoid seasonal museums or museums that don't have a permanent collection. They typically can't offer year round employment.
  • With most museums' relying on donations and grants, don't expect to get rich with a museum job.

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