So you’re passionate about history of art, but worried about where it will lead you in terms of jobs? Never fear: this guide breaks down the many routes you can take from a history of art course into the job of your dreams.
Skills you can gain from this degree include…
Independent research: You’ll be conducting original research, which means seeking out lots of different resources. This will help you to think ‘outside the box’ when problem solving at work
Confidence in presenting: As you’ll need to present on this course, you’ll become a clearer and more confident speaker, which will be useful when delivering presentations or making video calls in your career
Project management: Working in groups on this course means project managing - so you might need to take the lead or delegate tasks, which will be crucial to working in teams later on
Critical thinking: Being able to question ‘why’ you are completing a task, and what the value of something is, will be extremely important when working on professional projects
Cross-cultural awareness: You’ll be encountering the history of many different cultures, which will inform your understanding of different cultures across the world today, making you more open-minded at work
With a degree in history of art, you can become…
Commercial art gallery manager
Passion for art is a must for this job. In this role, the smooth daily running of an art gallery will fall to you. Looking after both the commercial and artistic success of a gallery, you could find yourself completing a variety of tasks from general administration to liaising with visiting artists and negotiating sales. While you can learn the admin side of things as you work your way up from management, your passion for art and connection to the art world gained during your degree will give you an irreplaceable platform to build from in your career.
Becoming a conservator usually requires postgraduate study, and history of art is often a preferred degree for entry to a conservation course. You’ll learn how to care for and preserve artifacts and artwork, and will likely specialise in a particular area, such as paintings, modern and contemporary art, ceramics and glass, or archeology. This career may also allow you to work abroad, particularly in Europe and the USA.
Heritage managers look after historical places like museums, stately homes, castles, and ancient monuments. Many of these sites specifically focus on art and architecture, but even if they don’t, your experience with history and research will be a huge bonus. Plus, you’ll be able to draw upon your excellent written communication skills.
Museum or gallery exhibitions officer
Museum and gallery exhibitions officers carry out research and coordinate talks and events. Just like during your degree, you’ll look into the history of various artworks or artists and find ways to present that information to the public through designing exhibitions, hosting events, or maybe even giving talks to the public.
Museum or gallery administrator
There are lots of roles behind the scenes that go into making a museum or gallery run smoothly. Whatever specific role you take up - from managing museum volunteers, to overseeing ticket sales, to planning educational events for schools - the written communication and problem-solving skills you’ve developed during your degree will be key. And, of course, your passion for art and its history will make you a perfect fit for working in the arts world.
A degree in this subject might also take you to…
Whilst you might expect to pursue one of the above roles after this degree, there’s a whole range of careers it could lead you to.
A history of art degree can lead you to some jobs you may not expect. Warwick University shares some of the surprising and exciting careers their history of art grads have gone on to follow.
History of art gives you an eye for visuals, as well as the persuasive and analytical skills that come from writing essays, which is a perfect fit for the marketing industry. You’ll work with companies to sell their vision to a wide range of audiences, potentially getting involved with everything from the look of an organisation’s branding to the tone of their emails.
The charity sector has unique needs that humanities graduates are particularly well-suited for. You’ll be working with a range of people from different backgrounds, not just within your workplace, but in the communities or causes that you serve. The experience you gain in analysing and understanding different perspectives during a history of art degree will let you come in with the kinds of skills that are tough to learn on the job, but essential for success.
Human resources manager
Every company needs a good human resources team to keep its employees happy and safe. In HR, you’re the go-to team for employee wellbeing, and you’ll often provide conflict resolution and advice for any problems they may have. The communication skills you gain through studying history of art makes grads of those programmes a great fit for HR roles.
Communications officers need to be skilled with both written and verbal presentations, and have to be ready to provide polished information between departments of your company, to trade or professional publications, or sometimes to the general public. We’re not saying that writing a few history of art essays last-minute during your degree will help you prepare for the quick turnarounds this field demands, but it has been known to happen.
History of art graduates make excellent graphic designers. A field that demands not only a good eye for visuals, but the ability to take feedback and create images based on specific briefs, your knowledge of history of art as well as your experience explaining how and why art works the way it does are exactly what you need to succeed in graphic design.
15 months after graduating…
There don’t seem to be any insights on graduate salary for this career available at present, but for similar subjects - Fine Art and History - it’s £16,000 and £18,300 respectively. So you can expect a salary in this region. According to statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 61.6% of these students have secured a full-time job by this time.
Want to study history of art? Check out our sample Personal Statement for tips on how to make your application shine!