What can I do with my art history degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with an art history degree and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

  • Critical reasoning and analytical skills, including the capacity for solving problems and thinking creatively to form strong arguments
  • Teamwork and leadership through group projects
  • Intellectual rigour and independence, including the ability to conduct detailed research
  • Clear and balanced written and oral communication through report writing and presenting
  • Planning and time management evidenced through juggling multiple deadlines and module requirements
  • Collecting, analysing and evaluating evidence from varying sources through seminar work and independent assignments
  • Active listening

Career options

As an Art History graduate, you might consider working within heritage as an obvious route, making full use of the rich knowledge you have accumulated during your degree. Heritage offers a number of exciting opportunities which focus on increasing public engagement and creating links between artists, researchers and audiences. You could work within a gallery setting (such as art gallery manager, exhibition officer and curator), or in a museum/ historical building setting (such as an archivist, conservator, museum education officer). Roles such as marketing, PR and education allow you to promote the gallery/ museum world to the public (be it directly or indirectly) while still cultivating your interest in the arts and culture. Working within antiques, auction houses and fine art publishing houses are also potential avenues for utilising your passion in visual culture. If working within the heritage sector doesn’t appeal, you could consider roles with the broader creative industries where you can use your project management skills to pursue a career in the media, PR, events or marketing.

If you want to share your passion for the importance of art still in modern society, along with what we can learn from it, you could become a teacher (primary, secondary, further education) or work within higher education as a lecturer or researcher.

It’s worth remembering that many art history graduates take the skills they have learnt elsewhere and find their way into less directly related graduate professions including business, the environment, the civil service and the charitable sector.

Researching your career options 

With such a wide range of careers open to you as an Art History graduate, it is important to make sure you explore and research your options thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions about your future.    

Take a look at the Prospects, TargetJobs and the professional associations websites for inspiration:    

Employment Opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of University of Plymouth Art History graduates told us they were doing six months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs serve as ‘stepping stones’ to professional posts by providing relevant workplace experience:

  • art dealer
  • editorial assistant
  • manager
  • art technician
  • PR assistant

Employers

Further study

Some of the careers chosen by Art History graduates will require or benefit from further study, so this should be considered carefully. The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options that could be of interest to Art History graduates:

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a careers consultant about your particular situation.

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable post-graduate programme;

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more. 
Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • click on ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.

For more information about the alumni tool click on LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Gain work experience

Undertaking work experience in your first and second years will help you stand out from the crowd when the time comes for you to complete applications for graduate employment and further study. Work experience develops valuable skills and qualities that employers are looking for and is essential for many roles. It can also help you to confirm or rule out particular career choices. Furthermore, experience in the workplace can bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career.

You have plenty of options open to you. You could apply for a placement year, work part-time around your studies, undertake volunteering or approach organisations directly to negotiate short periods of work experience. Some organisations offer paid internships over the summer or of one year’s duration.

The University of Plymouth Students’ Union also offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.

Clubs & societies   

Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to art history such as Art Society or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.

Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.

Want to know more about careers in Art History? 

From the Tate Galleries to the Royal Academy of Art, Sotheby's to the London Transport Museum, our graduates can be found working and studying in a range of prestigious locations.

Let nine of our graduates now working in London, the UK’s art capital, introduce themselves to you.