New Heritage Career Guide

BEFS Vice-Chair, Professor Ian Baxter (Heriot-Watt University), introduces his new Heritage Career Guide in association with BEFS and The Heritage Alliance.

It is the time of the year when undergraduates are coming to the end of their courses and looking toward graduation and the big blue yonder beyond, and postgraduates are theoretically scurrying about collecting data and writing furiously for completion of their Masters dissertations over the summer. Regardless, both groups of students are wondering what the future will hold, and for those who have chosen to follow the noble path of heritage management – they are most likely wondering where on earth they are going to find a job to pay the bills.

The heritage sector might seem a small world, but it has a myriad of possibilities, given the uses to which heritage is put these days. In terms of careers and job hunting, this can be somewhat bewildering, with the ‘obvious’ heritage jobs of working in a museum or at a historic site both hard to spot and in relatively small supply in comparison to the number of heritage-related graduates the education system seems to be churning out.

Once upon a time, newspapers would be the obvious place to look for jobs, but with advertising budgets almost non-existent, signposting to the nooks and crannies of the sector where jobs may be found is all the more important. The Heritage Careers Guide has therefore been overdue: conscious that I am an academic in the sector helping to produce those heritage graduates, and mindful as a BEFS and Heritage Alliance trustee that the organisations could be doing more to link students, universities and heritage bodies – I finally spent a bit of time editing lists and tidying up bookmarks which have signposted students to jobs over the years, and compiled a focused guide on where to start the search.

Since it was quietly launched earlier in the month, the guide has been downloaded almost 500 times, which suggests that it is already proving to be a useful resource. I will develop it over time – and welcome feedback and suggestions for the next edition at @ibheritage / Please feel free to re-use the resource, link to it, embed it in your website – and good luck in any job hunting!

Next on my agenda is a resource guide for the best heritage newsletters and bulletins to sign up for… (with the BEFS Bulletin and Heritage Update at the top of the list of course!).

Professor Ian Baxter