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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Ministry Moan: Job Titles

Thursday lunchtime, you’re  eating at your desk (again) and painstakingly refreshing the University of  Leicester Museum Jobs page with the faint optimism that there will be something, well anything that your degree and years of volunteering will allow you to apply for. Finally,  there's a glimmer of hope- a collections job, it's not volunteering and actually pays just above minimum wage. The only thing is to apply for the role you have to carefully decipher the job title, and you soon realize that you can't speak industry babble. Really, the role is definitely not for an early career professional, it's more like a directorship, paying less than £20,000 a year. Who wants to be a Collections Significance Officer anyway!?

Here at The Ministry we feel your pain and like you Thursday lunchtimes are often spent under a wave of optimism or crushing depression as we are reminded that the museum job market is far from straight forward. Pushing past the funding buzzwords and warding off any gut feelings we all put on our game face on  and delve into the puzzle that could determine our future. If you can decipher the job title and person spec you're surely in for a chance. Right?
Perhaps we're too familiar with the job titles that out families and friends expect to hear, like curator of this or curator of that. But there does seem to have been a shift towards the fancier title that either over simplifies or over complicates the application process. ‘Forward Planning Assistant’ ‘Collections Access Coordinator and Logistics and Storage Administrator’ or ‘Selection Advisor.’ Do these titles say too much or too little about what we do in the Museum industry? 
Oh Neil...
Maybe it's down to the predecessor's interpretation of the role, yet at the time of publishing this article there’s even an advertisement for ‘Executive Assistant to Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum.' Really would 'Executive Assistant to the Director' not do? Do you really have to name drop him, we all know who the Director of the British Museum is, having his name on your staff pass won't pull enough connections to get you a Nando's black card. Chill the ego MacGregor. 
Front of house is often just as barmy. I know of one institution where public facing staff are referred to as Gallery Assistant's, Crew Member's, Event Assistant's and Visitor Experience staff all within the same HR department.  Can we really not standardized the term for the most public of jobs in the Museum industry? We’re not at Alton Towers folks, Visitor Experience staff won't be leading you onto a ride, nor will Visitor Services be at your every beck and call. Let's give these guys some respect and perhaps stick with one or two job titles for the thousands front of house staff across the City. 
The weird and wonderful, long and barmy job titles won't be  standardizing or shortening  anytime soon but we can at least create a space where Museum job seekers can discuss what's happening to their CV's. Use the hashtag #museumjobs and we’ll certainly put ourselves out there to offer advice on titles and job specs. Ask your Ministry. 


  1. My personal favourite was "Tour Guide" - very straight forward, you might think. However, that role included being in murder mysteries, conservation and collections care, assisting at weddings, writing comedy sketches for Halloween haunted house events, and one Christmas, spending the best part of a week stood in the snow, dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

    I barely took any tours around the house at all.

  2. You will find way too many arts and layout museum jobs in order to checklist, not to say illustrate, in one content. What that portion includes, as a result, are small single profiles regarding major careers within arts and layout.