Getting Started

Education
Primary degrees in areas that relate to museum collections are often good starting points from which to build a museum career. Subjects such as history, art history, archaeology, natural sciences, anthropology are typical of many employees working in museums.

The museum sector is becoming increasingly professionalised and there are graduate and post graduate programmes available both in Ireland and abroad, combining both campus based and distance learning options. Check the Services Directory section of the IMA website and search for 'Training' for a full list of opportunities. A few of the many programmes specialising in museum studies include:

University College Dublin (MA in Cultural Policy & Arts Management)
University of East Anglia, Norwich (MA in Museum Studies, MPhil or PhD by research)
University of Leicester (MA, MSc, PhD in Museum Studies)
University of Ulster (MA Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies)
Waterford Institute of Technology (MA in Arts & Heritage Management)

Placements, Internships and Volunteering
Work Placements: some schools and colleges make arrangements with museums, galleries and other venues, for undergraduate/graduate students to go on placements and gain work experience. This is an invaluable way to find out the type of work that takes place in museums and whether you might like a job in this area. Qualified school leavers can find work in museums as gallery attendants or shop staff. But for any type of specialist work, it is necessary to have a degree, or a museum/heritage diploma, and potentially, post-graduate qualifications. Universities and higher education colleges offer numerous courses and some provide distance-learning (see Education above).

Graduate Internships: some museums and galleries in Ireland and overseas offer graduate internship programmes of between three months and a year. Most of these training programmes are unpaid and cover many different roles within the museum. In general, interested applicants must make an application in writing to the museum, usually followed by an interview. Individual museum websites carry details of their internships and application procedures.

Volunteering: an excellent way to gain experience in the museum environment (and support your local museum!) is to volunteer your time. Some institutions have formal programmes through which you may volunteer as a museum docent, visitor services assistant, or other roles. Others accept informal enquiries as to volunteer opportunities.