Students Staff

Careers with art history

Employability advice

Our Careers Centre

Our Employability and Careers Centre helps you develop the skills for a successful career. Our friendly staff and excellent resources help you to make informed career choices and to enter your chosen field.

Three years dedicated study of art history teaches you skills that are widely transferable and highly valued by employers across all business sectors.

Our graduates are ideally prepared for roles in the media, advertising, museums and galleries, education, publishing, charities, fashion and public relations, as well as more specialised roles such as conservators, auctioneers, antiques specialists and arts lawyers.

The cultural sector in the UK is crucial part of the economy. Recent studies report that over 50 per cent of people visited a museum, or gallery in the past year and that the arts and culture industry pays on average nearly five per cent more than the UK median salary of £26,095.

Transferable skills

We live in a visual world, and the ability to process, analyse and conceptualise complex primary and secondary sources into coherent narratives; to confidently and clearly synthesise and re-present ideas; to assess the quality and reliability of information; and to have a grasp of several centuries of human success and failure through the media of their artistic and cultural endeavours are increasingly invaluable.

If you’re not yet focused on a very specific vocation, and if you’re interested in art, culture and the histories and theories of human endeavour, then a degree in art history is an extraordinarily sensible option, as well as being intellectually fulfilling and highly enjoyable.

How we help you

We assist our students with professional development and their search for employment or further study. We encourage you to speak to any member of staff about your plans for the future, but particularly to Fiona Hughes, our careers link in the School, or to Lynne Jordan, our dedicated adviser for art history in our Employability and Careers Centre. Lynne can help you make the most of all the available opportunities for professional development during your studies, as well as assisting with finding jobs, CVs and making applications.

Gain experience during your studies

There are many opportunities to gain work experience while you study with internships and our frontrunners work placement scheme. Our students have also benefitted from working with the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America, Art Exchange, and Firstsite, as well as from participating in internship projects including at the Minories art gallery and with Colchester Hospital art collection.

Case study: Sophie Dickey, MA Art History

Sophie undertook a placement at the Hayward Gallery in London from November 2015 to May 2016. She explains what kind of work she was involved in and how it has helped to enhance her future career.

  • Read the interview with Sophie

    What kind of work have you been involved in with the Hayward Gallery, and what did you enjoy the most?

    "During my time at the Hayward Gallery, I have worked on an archive project specifically focusing on digitising some of the Hayward’s materials from its past exhibitions. This involved researching a lot of material that was up to fifty years old, and learning how to carefully handle it. Some of the material, however, was stored off-site which meant my project manager and I often visited to study it and photograph it as and when required. Visiting the archives was definitely one of my most favourite things as it meant I could fully engage myself with all of the archival material."

    How did that tie in with your research project/dissertation?

    "The project has tied in nicely with my dissertation topic as both are archive focused. My dissertation focuses on the digitisation of archives from museums and galleries, so it was fascinating to be a part of the process I am researching."

    What skills have you developed during the PSS placement?

    "During the PSS placement, I have expanded my computer skills and IT skills by working with Photoshop, Excel and scanning with a light box. As the project was a collaboration between the Hayward Gallery and Google, I was also tasked with creating large metadata spreadsheets for each individual object from specific shows. I really enjoyed this as it meant I got to have an in-depth look at the materials and correspondence from each show whilst also expanding my IT skills. I have also become a lot more confident in myself by talking to other employees and working alongside people on this project."

    How would you describe the placement to your friends?

    "I'd describe the placement as an unforgettable experience and one to be extremely grateful for. I have learnt so much during my time at the gallery, and I really loathed having to leave at the end of my placement!"

    How do you feel the placement has helped you enhance your future career?

    "The placement has definitely helped to enhance my future career as it has given me hands-on experience in one of London's biggest galleries. I now have quite an extensive list of skills that I have gained as a direct result of the placement. This was only possible through my work experience and being in the gallery environment."

We also offer a variety of options for study abroad and our Languages for All programme allows you to learn a language for free alongside your course.

Support after graduation

You can use the services of our Employability and Careers Centre for up to three years after you graduate. Our staff also regularly provide references for our students to assist with applying for jobs and further study.

Learn languages

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All our students can learn languages in a number of ways, including as part of your degree, in evening classes or online at no extra cost, or via Essex Modern Language Certificates.

frontrunners placements

Frontrunner students gathered round a table

frontrunners is our original placement scheme that offers students paid work opportunities on campus. You'll get on-placement training and great experience to add to your CV.

Essex Interns

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Internships are an excellent way to earn money and develop a stand-out CV. Register with us for information on paid internship opportunities with local, national and even international employers.

Employability events

Students at a careers fair

We have lots of careers events and workshops running this term, all designed to help you develop skills, research future career options and meet employers. Some are one-off annual events, so don't miss out.