Pay in museums

Guidelines to address low sector pay

Low pay is widely recognised as a major problem for the sector. Museum pay is falling behind that of comparable sectors, and is barely keeping up with the cost of living.

To address this issue we produced Salary Guidelines 2017, drawing on a report into pay in the sector conducted by specialist research company Incomes Data Research, which was funded by Arts Council England. We will continue to revise these guidelines in future.

Please note the national minimum and living wages have increased since 2017. The most up to date rates of pay are available here.

The guidelines are intended as a practical document to be used when setting starting salaries for museums posts. They can also be used as an advocacy tool to raise the issue of pay with employers and funding bodies.

The guidelines include suggested salaries for a range of museum posts, and comparisons of salaries of similar posts in related sectors. They seek to raise awareness of the issues surrounding pay within museums and generally improve levels of pay within the sector.

They are intended to be of use to all UK museums, whether large nationals with over 500 staff or small independents with one paid member of staff. Regardless of the type of museum or job title, it is knowledge, experience and most importantly responsibilities that should determine salaries.

Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, says: “We know that poor pay and limited opportunities for progression can be off-putting when people are thinking about potential careers. And we also know that a narrow entry path can squeeze some people out, especially if it is combined with recruitment that focuses on mirroring the workforce that we already have.

“I hope these salary guidelines can support employers, funders and stakeholders to be brave and enlightened and to reflect and reward the hard-work, knowledge and enthusiasm of everyone that works in and with museums and galleries.”

We intend to follow up on these guidelines with further research into best practice in recruitment and short-term and freelance pay.

We have previously published a number of reports and guidelines on salary levels in the sector, beginning with the Pay in Museums report in 2004, followed by salary guidelines in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

We welcome comments, particularly from those who have used the document as an advocacy tool or as a practical guide for setting salaries.

Please email with any queries: cpd@museumsassociation.org

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