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Heritage manager: job description

Heritage manager: job description

Heritage managers are responsible for conserving, managing and developing access to heritage sites such as historic buildings, landscapes, museums and ancient monuments.
The Museums Association estimates that there are around 2,500 museums in the UK, employing more than 27,600 people.

What does a heritage manager do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Most heritage managers are employed by national charitable organisations such as The National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Scotland. Other employers include local authorities, cathedrals, privately owned historical buildings and independent museums. Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • managing budgets
  • financial/project planning
  • recruiting, training and supervising staff/volunteers
  • liaising with council departments, funding agencies, community organisations, voluntary/local history groups, tourist bodies and private companies
  • undertaking research to maintain awareness of developments within the field
  • generating income via fundraising activities, membership, grants and retail activities
  • developing heritage attractions to enhance and increase visitor access
  • advertising and marketing the attraction
  • undertaking customer surveys and assessing the results

Vacancies attract strong competition. Positions are increasingly offered on short/fixed term contracts. Jobs are advertised online, in local authority vacancy lists and in newspapers. Jobs may receive little advertising, so networking and speculative applications to key employers are advisable. The International Council of Museums’ website has directories and contact details for museums around the world, which may be a useful start when making speculative applications.

Qualifications and training required

The minimum academic qualification required for entry into the profession is a good honours degree in a subject such as heritage/archive/museum studies, archaeology, history, art conservation, history of art, fine/visual art, marketing or business studies. A postgraduate qualification in heritage/museum management is beneficial and may be a requirement for some positions.

Prior relevant voluntary and/or paid work experience is almost always essential. Short-term volunteering opportunities and a small number of placements are available with employers such as The National Trust, English Heritage, The Museums Association and The Wordsworth Trust.

Key skills for heritage managers

Employers seek candidates displaying a genuine enthusiasm for, interest in and understanding of heritage work. Good teamworking, organisational, communication and interpersonal skills are essential. Candidates should also be mobile and flexible since jobs are often offered on a fixed term contract. Similarly, a driving licence is sometimes required.

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