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. With over 450 museums and galleries in Scotland, this sector is worth an estimated £79 million to the Scottish economy. There are also hundreds of historic places and heritage centres, managed by organisations like the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland.
The main areas for this career area are in: libraries and information science, covering work archives, libraries and genealogy, and in culture and heritage, covering 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 be education, leisure, marketing, planning, exhibition organisation and tourism.
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. As a result of recent cuts in public sector budgets, museums are likely to face considerable financial constraints in the next few years. In archaeology, work on excavation sites is often short term and not very well paid.
However, in a report by Historic England, it has been stated that due to over 40 major infrastructure projects planned across the UK up to 2033, there could be a shortage of historic environment practitioners, particularly archaeologists. They are required to carry out exploration work at the start of a project.
So, you will really need to get voluntary work experience for both archaeology and museum work before applying for a job. 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.
There are skills shortages in this sector, the main ones including:
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. You can visit their Creative Choices website where you can find careers information, jobs and opportunities in the heritage and culture sector, including archive work.