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How Do I Get Museum Work Experience?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Many of the jobs within the museum world will require that you first get museum work experience before you can be hired. In order to get such experience, you can take several approaches: you can volunteer for museum programs and events; you can apply for an entry-level position such as ticket taker or tour guide; or you can take part in a formal training program or apprenticeship. It is likely that you will need to fulfill some prerequisites before you can get any type of museum work experience, so be sure to ask your local museum staff about such requirements.

First and foremost, it is likely that you will need to earn a high school diploma before you can get museum work experience. Some jobs may not require a high school education, but you should not expect many advancement opportunities if you take such positions. Otherwise, earn your high school diploma or equivalent degree before applying. Some museums may offer unpaid internships for qualifying applicants; it is likely that you will need to be working toward a college degree if you are to qualify for this type of museum work experience, though this is not always the case. An unpaid internship is a great way to learn new skills from more experienced museum staff and to establish important connections within the museum world.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Many museums hold various events, or even daily or weekly programs that require volunteer or paid staff to run. You can volunteer your services to get museum work experience by working any of these programs for which you qualify. You may end up simply taking tickets or selling items in a gift shop, but this will get your foot in the door and help you establish a good relationship with the museum so you will be able to get higher-level positions later on.

A formal apprenticeship or job training program is one of the best ways to get museum work experience, but you will need to earn a college degree in most cases to get such an apprenticeship. You will work directly with museum staff who have experience in the field that you want to enter, and you will be paid for your services; the pay is usually based on a percentage of what full-time staff make, though again, this is not always the case. Such positions can be rare and the competition will be fierce, so be sure to get as much previous experience as possible.

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