There are a very wide range of jobs available in the sector, vacancies pages on websites such as Arts Jobs and Arts Job Finder can be useful to demonstrate the scope and types of roles available. Don't forget, culture and heritage organisations also need administrators, HR professionals, marketing teams, IT specialists etc, so don't overlook these roles.
As most organisations rely on external funding and cannot always predict income generation from year to year, many offer both fixed-term and permanent roles and it's common for people to work on fixed-term contracts in the early stages of their career before progressing to and finding permanent positions.
Below is a brief overview of some of the different types of roles
Museums & Galleries
These can vary greatly in size and specialism, ranging from the National Gallery in London displaying and exhibiting art works from around the world across many centuries, to small galleries or museums focusing on the work of an individual artist or the history of particular town. The Oxford University Gardens Libraries & Museums (GLAM) careers page also highlights some of the different roles available and some are listed below:
Probably the most popular and recognised role within museums and galleries. Their responsibilities can vary and be very broad depending on their level of seniority, covering a range of matters such as, the management of their department and staff, involvement in fundraising and donor relations, overseeing the acquisition, research and display of the objects in their care. Curators have specialised academic knowledge of their subject matter from studying a relevant DPhil/PhD combined with extensive practical work experience.
Conservators are responsible for the maintenance, repair and restoration of objects within museum/gallery collections. Their role is pivotal as some of the works displayed may be several centuries old or made from rare materials that require specialist cleaning and repair. Many conservators have postgraduate qualifications specialising in conservation and their work usually focuses on a specific type of medium eg: paintings, sculpture, drawings etc.
Researcher and research assistants are specialists who use their academic knowledge ( gained by studying a DPhil/PhD) on a particular subject to enhance the knowledge and information museums and galleries have on their collections. They often publish research on their subject and researchers can also act as curators in some institutions and/or for specific exhibitions. They can be permanent members of staff or work at an institution on a scholarship or fellowship to research a particular subject.
Administrators & Management
Museums and galleries can be complex organisations to run, therefore to be successful they need professional and well structured administration teams. Many people get their "first break" in the sector by working in these roles eg: as a summer or contract job. These roles can include a range of functions including, Finance, IT, HR, Administration, Legal and some of the most senior roles in an organisation such as board members and directors.
Fundraising is a key aspect of ensuring the survival of a gallery or museum as they have to find funds from a range of different sources. These funds can come from government grants, donations from the public and high-net-worth individuals, commercial enterprises eg: their retail shops, renting out the gallery/museum spaces. Depending on the size of the museum/gallery, fundraising may be managed by a dedicated team or could be an additional responsibility for another member of staff. Fundraising roles are great for people who enjoy networking and building relationships with organisations and people who may be potential donors.
Public Engagement/Outreach & Education
Museums and galleries are also places of learning and education and many have education/outreach programmes to engage with the public. Roles within these teams can vary and can include creating and managing education programmes for the public and schools, supervising tours and promoting the institution's work.
Many galleries and museums supplement their income by selling items related to their collections eg: books and postcards. These jobs are usually located in gallery/museum shops and are a great way to get experience working in this environment
Guides/Gallery Assistants/Welcome Teams
Guides, gallery assistants and welcome teams are usually the first people you meet when visiting a gallery or museum. They provide assistance and information to guests. Some of these roles are paid and some are volunteer roles. They're a great way to learn about these institutions and how they work and some offer vacation opportunities for students.
Many of the roles that exist in galleries and museums also exist in individual heritage locations eg: Chatsworth House and can also include landscape, stonemasonry, veterinary, water conservation, agricultural roles and much more to maintain their upkeep.
Larger organisations such as the National Trust, which oversee and care for multiple locations eg: historical houses, castles, parks, forests and the of works of art in those locations also have a range of roles. Many are similar to those found in museums and galleries eg: curations, researchers, public engagement specialists and managers. Some of the roles may be focused on specific properties/locations and others may have a broader scope with a national or regional focus.
Theatre & Performance Organisations
Theatre and performance organisations offer a range of roles which cover their administration and also the "creative" aspect of their work eg: The Royal Opera House employs administrators and finance staff as well as stage lighting specialists and costume makers. Many people start their careers as ushers or box-office assistants which is a great way to understand the inner-workings of a theatre. To get a better idea about the type of permanent and fixed term contract roles available in these types of organisations, visit their vacancies pages eg: The Royal Opera House, The National Theatre .
The purpose of auction houses is to provide a market to sell and buy high value luxury goods. These items can include art, jewellery, rare watches, designer handbags and classic cars. These organisations have staff with a range of skills and experience that can include valuation specialists (often with an academic background in their specialist area), business development, client strategy and liaison experts, legal and finance teams. The larger the auction house, the broader the range of roles. In smaller auction houses staff may have responsibility for a combination of areas eg: Finance and HR. Review the vacancies pages for some of the larger auction houses eg: Sotheby's, Christie's and Bonhams to learn more about the types of roles they recruit for.