Postgraduate careers for art and design graduates

Postgraduate careers for art and design graduates

Not sure you want to go it alone as a self-employed artist or work in commercial design? Want to work in art and design without necessarily being a practitioner? Looking for employment related to your art history degree? The following careers may allow you to continue to be creative, use your artistic skills in alternative ways or pursue a subject you love.

Art Gallery Curator/Exhibition Officer/Education Officer

These roles can be a good way to pursue your interest in a specific type or period of art or design. But bear in mind, the role of curator can vary widely according to the size and type of gallery/museum. In a small gallery you may need to be a jack of all trades with business awareness to manage the gallery collections, staff and volunteers and organise and even install exhibitions.

A gallery exhibitions officer has a project management role, involving event organisation, PR and marketing as well as administration. Education officers engage children and families with a gallery collection and bring it alive through activities and workshops.

An MA in museum and gallery studies is usually needed for entry for all these roles along with relevant work experience. Look for courses which focus on gallery studies or have an education pathway. A Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or classroom experience may be required for some education officer roles. See the Museums Association for advice on choosing courses and maximising your chance of getting a place.


Conservators preserve, clean, repair and sometimes restore a range of artefacts including paintings, textiles and ceramics. Many applicants have a postgraduate course in art conservation, accredited by the Institute of Conservation (ICON) although a work based learning route is now possible through ICON Internships. Bear in mind that A level Chemistry, or to have completed an ICON Chemistry for Conservators course, will strengthen your application to some courses.

Community Arts Worker

Community arts involves encouraging local groups to use artistic activities to improve their quality of life and this role can provide a chance to use your practical art skills in a socially engaging way. Consider MA courses in participatory/community arts. Use the Voluntary Arts Network to locate local groups to gain valuable experience prior to considering a course.

Art Therapist

Art therapists help clients explore feelings and emotions using art. An MA in art therapy or art psychotherapy is essential for entry followed by registration with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). You will also need work experience in a health, education or social services setting. See the British Association of Art Therapy for more information.

Working in an auction house or the art market is another possibility, look at MAs in fine art or decorative arts and Kingston University run an MA Art Market Appraisal. You could also consider arts administration, which encompasses performing arts as well as visual arts; see MA courses in cultural administration/management or contemporary arts practice. Teaching art at primary, secondary, further, higher or adult education level is also an option.