Museum pay 7% below average market rates

Museums Association publishes Salary Guidelines 2017
Research carried out for the Museums Association’s (MA) Salary Guidelines 2017 has found that pay in museums is 7% below the market average.

In particular, junior roles are significantly behind comparator roles outside the sector. Assistants in the curator and collections management job area lag 25% behind pay rates for comparator roles, while assistants and officers in learning, programming and outreach lag 13% behind comparators.

The research, which was funded by Arts Council England, raises serious questions about entry to the museum sector, with low pay and the widespread expectation that candidates will have postgraduate qualifications making it harder to recruit a diverse workforce.

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.

“These guidelines will be followed by a toolkit that explores best practice in recruitment, from apprenticeships and training schemes to thinking about unconscious bias, and will also look at how we retain diverse and talented people once they are working in the sector.

“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.”

The MA intends to follow up on the guidelines with further research into best practice in recruitment and short-term and freelance pay.

Links and downloads

Salary Guidelines 2017

Museums Journal news analysis on pay in museums


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Sarah Gore
Teaching Museum Manager, Norfolk Museums Service
02.11.2017, 11:01
If there is still an expectation of post-graduate qualifications. I hope for the sake of programmes such as the Teaching Museum I manage at Norfolk Museums Service and other programmes at Colchester & Ipswich and the BM which specifically give opportunities to individuals who haven't trodden the usual path that this is increasingly not the case. Employers must think intelligently about what they actually need rather than relying on the presence of a museums studies qualification on an applicant's CV and universities must consider what they are offering in terms of their graduates being work-ready.

This is even before we consider the question of rates of pay.