Do you love to learn about how people lived in the past and what it would have been like to live then? Or you might be curious about the reasons why the world is the way it is today, or have a wish to bring the past to life. Alternatively, you might love the idea of looking after precious old objects or manuscripts, or being surrounded by valuable works of art. If so, then working in information, culture and heritage is the ideal career area for you.
Scotland is rich in heritage and culture and it’s an essential asset for our tourism industry. As of October 2021, there were over 400 museums and galleries, managed by 270 organisations. There are also hundreds of historic places and heritage centres, managed by organisations like the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.
The latest data states that in 2021, there were 5,000 library clerks and assistants in employment in Scotland.
Since 2021, a five year public library strategy has been in place, which aims to develop how public libraries can use their physical and digital services to ensure a strong future for the library sector.
The main areas for this career area are: libraries and information science, archives, libraries and genealogy, culture and heritage, archaeology, heritage work and museums and galleries.
The biggest employers are local authorities and national conservation trusts, but there are many areas within these services that you can work in; these can include education, leisure, marketing, planning, exhibition organisation and tourism.
To see the routes to getting into each of these sectors, take a look at our Career Pathway.
There are a wide range of organisations you can work for including:
Due to the popularity of working within culture and heritage, there is stiff competition for jobs that sometimes are not particularly well paid, yet require high qualifications. So, you will need to be determined, persistent and highly motivated to find the job you want.
This is not an easy sector to make a career in. Traditionally, most museums are dependent on public sector funding.
Getting voluntary work experience for both archaeology and museum work before applying for a job is very useful. It’s also a good way to make contacts.
Equally there is a lot of competition for jobs in libraries. Many local authorities are reducing the number of libraries in their area, and the majority of libraries are run by the local authorities. The cuts councils are facing in funding are also having an impact on recruitment.
However, there are some innovative projects working to reopen some of the libraries that closed during the pandemic, setting up wellbeing cafes or providing home library services. These have received more than £1 million in funding.
The Scottish Government’s £1.25 million Public Library COVID Relief Fund will support 23 projects around the country to re-connect communities with their libraries.
As organisations in these sectors are receiving some government funding, hopefully they can recover fully from the pandemic. There may be more figures and information available on workforce predictions and skill requirements in the future.
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland. Their website has an excellent opportunities section where you will find learning, training and job opportunities for all disciplines in culture across Scotland.
Creative and Cultural Skills is the Sector Skills Council for advertising, crafts, cultural heritage, design, music, performing, literary and visual arts.
Historic Environment Scotland