Are you looking for a job and want one that’s a bit more outside of the box? Museums are a great place to find a job that’s quirky and unique. There are about 35,000 museums in the United States alone and over 150 museums in the Bay Area. That accounts for a lot of job opportunities!
When seeking a job at a museum, it's vital to pinpoint your interests. Are you a history buff, art junkie, or science enthusiast? Perhaps you are fascinated by something more unique like pinball machines or submarines?
The Bay Area has a broad range of must-have museums jobs to consider. Finding one that suits you is the key. So we're here to help you out. Check out our comprehensive guide to finding a museum job that’s right for you!
Choosing the Right Museum Job
After you’ve whittled down your interests, the next step is to think of what kind of job would get you out of bed in the morning. These positions vary greatly from one another, offering a wide range of possibilities that may appeal to your specific skills and talents. Check them out below:
1. Guest Relations
If you’re a people person, guest relations at any museum is the job for you. Whether you are working in the gift shop, giving tours, greeting guests, or handling membership and ticket information, you will be interacting with people all day with the possibility for countless conversations about the museum you love!
2. Event Coordinator
Working in events as an event coordinator or special events intern will appeal to those who are good at multitasking and need a fast-paced work environment. Museums often hold galas, openings, weddings, and night-time socials. Procure a nice pair of shoes before getting this job, as you will be running around often.
3. Administrative Positions
If you enjoy solitary work and can pay attention to details, check out the administrative positions that museums have to offer. These will likely include positions in HR, volunteer relations, IT, and finance.
This is closer to a job in any business, but you’d still get to enjoy the many perks a museum job offers, such as being in an awesome environment and getting to check out the exhibits whenever you want.
For creative people who require more hands-on positions, there are curating opportunities available. These are the people that make museums beautiful and work to manage the exhibits. However, these positions typically require a degree or a great amount of experience, making them very competitive.
If you have a graduate degree in history, library science, archival science, or record management and are well learned in a specific area of study, working as an archivist might suit your style.
These are the people who work to preserve documents and records for their historical significance in museums. This requires a very specific set of skills, however, so be prepared to work up to it.
Similar to the archivist position, curators work to preserve works of art, artifacts, and specimens. They also keep records of them and require extensive education in the field, such as a masters degree in conservation.
Photo Credit: BAMPFA
Tips to Landing Your Dream Museum Job
Now that you know which type of positions you’d like to get involved in, here are some tips for working towards landing that position!
1. Become a volunteer
Museums generally have large teams of volunteers, so jump in and join in on the fun. By volunteering, you become acquainted with the museum and gain a deeper understanding of the various duties and positions, while garnering valuable work experience in the industry.
2. Apply for an internship
Much like volunteering, becoming an intern will help you get involved in a museum. However, as an intern you will become a more familiar face and have a better chance to stand out and know the right people when applying for a position. As jobs become available, there is a good chance that interns will notified before the general public.
To see what volunteer, internship, and job options are available at a museum of your interest, check out their website and see what’s listed there. If nothing is available that interests you, sign up for RSS feeds and newsletters to stay in the loop.
3. Visit and ask questions
Alternatively, you can act as a spectator and experience the museum for yourself. Take the initiative, visit the museum, and ask about what is available. At the very least, you can spend some of your day there, enjoy yourself, learn something new, and gauge your interest in applying for the position.
4. Build your work experience
Having an applicable degree, such as art history or any other related experience is a great way to get your foot in the door. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask a past professor or boss if they have any connections. Networking is a fantastic way to get yourself recognized and might even help you land an interview.
Bay Area Museums to Consider
While most of us are familiar with museums like BAMPFA, Oakland Museum of California, SFMOMA, and the Exploratorium, museum job opportunities don’t stop there. These are just barely scratching the surface, so check out just a few of the many other awesome museums around the Bay Area below.
1. Lacis Museum of Lace & Textiles (South Berkeley)
Also established in 2004, this museum is well known for its array of classes, lectures, workshops, and exhibits. Feel free to browse the older sister retail store, Lacis, which has been around since 1965 and contains more trims, textile books, and ribbon than you can imagine.
Visit the museum to inquire about their open positions– there's free admission!
2. Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland)
Like working with children? Consider getting involved as a volunteer or applying for a position at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland. Chabot also hosts several night events for those of you looking for a more mature experience.
3. Asian Art Museum (San Francisco)
A cultural hub since 1966, this museum has been attracting visitors from all around the world. If you have a particular interest in Asian Studies or like working with diverse demographics, this might be the place for you.
4. Pacific Pinball Museum (Alameda)
This unique museum has been around since 2004 and houses pinball machines from 1879 to present day. You can take a tour to catch a glimpse of American history from the pinball machine’s perspective. The best part? You can play unlimited pinball all day.
While the staff is small, they are always looking for volunteers.
Working in a museum is a great step towards finding an enjoyable career while immersing yourself in the culture of the place that you live. Now that you know all about finding a museum job, go out and get one for yourself!