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What can I do with my degree?: History of art

Many graduates from history of art degrees are interested in working in museums or galleries where gaining relevant work experience is crucial...

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects. 

Work experience

Practical experience is extremely valuable and will make you a more competitive candidate in the world of art galleries and museums. It is valued as highly as the right knowledge and qualifications, and you should take any opportunity to carry out a work placement.

Placements will often be arranged as part of your course but you should also try to gain as much additional experience as possible. Try applying to small, local museums which may not get as many work experience requests and can offer a wide range of experience. Think about what will be relevant for your career; education or outreach work, for example, will add value to a curatorial career.

Museums Association - Volunteering  has advice on looking for voluntary work and also has a volunteer category of membership, which provides access to training, events and networking opportunities. 

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Many graduates work in museums and galleries. As well as curatorial work, there are opportunities in areas such as outreach, education, marketing, public relations (PR) and events management.

Specialist booksellers, antique dealers and auctioneers are also key employers and another option is to follow an academic career in higher education.

Find information on employers in creative arts and design, marketing, advertising and PR, media and internet and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

Studying history of art allows you to examine the visual arts through a range of historical, social, geographical, cultural and psychological contexts. You will consider the meaning implied by the subject and style of art forms, as well as the impact that art has on our lives.

You will gain a number of broad skills that are desirable to future employers:

  • analysing and interpreting information from different sources;
  • using critical judgement to form opinions and strong arguments;
  • presenting information in an intelligent, coherent and balanced way;
  • oral and written communication skills;
  • time management skills;
  • ability to work independently and in teams;
  • listening skills.

Further study

There are many postgraduate qualifications that relate to jobs in the art history field. For example, Masters in museum and gallery studies or curating or conservation science are available. These qualifications can help lead on to jobs in museums and galleries.

Arts and heritage management are also popular choices, as they provide a broader skills base and open up a range of job opportunities, often at a more senior level.

Research degrees, such as PhD or MPhil, are useful, and sometimes essential, for those interested in an academic career and who wish to develop expertise in a narrowly defined area of art history.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see postgraduate study in the UK and search postgraduate courses.

What do history of art graduates do?

Around 60% of history of art graduates are in paid employment six months after graduating. A further 25% are undertaking further study or combining study part time with work.

History of art graduates enter a variety of careers but popular roles include marketing associate professionals, conference and exhibition managers and organisers, PR professionals, archivists and curators, and business sales executives.

Graduate destinations for history of art
Destinations Percentage
Employed 60.2%
Further study 19.1%
Working and studying 6.2%
Unemployed 7.7%
Other 6.8%
Types of work entered in the UK
Marketing, PR and sales 23.2%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 16.8%
Retail, catering and bar work 16.3%
Arts, design and media 9.6%
Other 34.1%

Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
June 2013

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