Uncover Hidden Career Paths: Art History's Untapped Potential

An art history major explores the history of art, its techniques, and its cultural and social contexts. Graduates with an art history degree gain a deep understanding of visual culture and develop critical thinking, research, writing, and communication skills. This makes them well-suited for a range of careers in the arts, culture, education, and other fields.

An art history degree can open doors to various job opportunities in museums, galleries, auction houses, and non-profit arts organizations. Graduates can work as curators, registrars, educators, or researchers, helping to preserve, interpret, and share art with the public.

Beyond the art world, art history majors can also find success in fields such as journalism, law, and business. Their training in visual analysis, critical thinking, and communication makes them valuable assets in various roles that require strong research, writing, and presentation skills.

What Jobs Do Art History Majors Get?

An art history degree opens doors to a diverse range of career opportunities, leveraging the skills and knowledge gained in the field. Here are eight key aspects to consider:

  • Museum Curators
  • Gallery Directors
  • Art Dealers
  • Art Historians
  • Archivists
  • Art Critics
  • Art Educators
  • Nonprofit Arts Administrators

These roles encompass responsibilities such as managing collections, organizing exhibitions, conducting research, writing publications, teaching courses, and advocating for the arts. Art history majors bring their expertise in visual analysis, critical thinking, and communication to these positions, contributing to the preservation, interpretation, and appreciation of art and culture.

Museum Curators

Museum curators play a central role in the art world, overseeing the care and presentation of museum collections. They are responsible for acquiring, preserving, researching, and interpreting works of art, as well as developing and managing exhibitions.

  • Collection Management
    Curators are responsible for managing and preserving museum collections, ensuring their safekeeping and accessibility for research and public enjoyment.
  • Exhibition Development
    Curators develop and organize exhibitions, selecting works of art, writing labels and wall texts, and designing the overall presentation to engage and educate visitors.
  • Research and Publication
    Curators conduct research on the works in their collections and publish their findings in scholarly journals and exhibition catalogues, contributing to the advancement of art historical knowledge.
  • Public Engagement
    Curators interact with the public through lectures, guided tours, and educational programs, fostering appreciation and understanding of art and culture.

Art history majors are well-suited for careers as museum curators, as their training in visual analysis, critical thinking, and communication prepares them for the challenges of managing and interpreting art collections and engaging with diverse audiences.

Gallery Directors

Gallery directors play a pivotal role in the art world, managing and shaping the vision and operations of art galleries. They are responsible for curating exhibitions, representing artists, and promoting the gallery’s program to collectors, critics, and the public.

  • Exhibition Management
    Gallery directors oversee all aspects of exhibition planning and installation, from selecting artists and artworks to designing the gallery space and developing educational materials.
  • Artist Representation
    Gallery directors represent a roster of artists, providing guidance on their artistic development, managing their careers, and promoting their work to collectors and institutions.
  • Sales and Marketing
    Gallery directors are responsible for the financial success of their galleries, managing sales of artworks and developing marketing and public relations strategies to promote the gallery and its artists.
  • Community Engagement
    Gallery directors engage with the local community through educational programs, public lectures, and special events, fostering appreciation for contemporary art and supporting the gallery’s mission.

Art history majors are well-prepared for careers as gallery directors, as their training in art history, visual analysis, and critical thinking provides them with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage and operate an art gallery, support artists’ careers, and connect with diverse audiences.

Art Dealers

In the interconnected world of art, art dealers play a crucial role in the careers of artists and the accessibility of art to collectors and enthusiasts. For art history majors, understanding the role of art dealers is essential in grasping the diverse professional landscape within the art industry.

  • Connecting Artists and Collectors
    Art dealers serve as intermediaries between artists and collectors, facilitating the sale and purchase of artworks. They identify talented artists, provide them with support and guidance, and promote their work to potential buyers.
  • Market Expertise and Valuation
    Art dealers possess specialized knowledge of the art market, including pricing trends, market demand, and the value of different artworks. They advise clients on acquisitions, helping them build valuable collections and make informed investment decisions.
  • Art Advisory and Collection Management
    Some art dealers offer advisory services, providing clients with personalized guidance on art acquisition, collection management, and estate planning. They assist collectors in developing their collections, diversifying their portfolios, and preserving their artistic legacy.
  • Exhibition Organization and Promotion
    Art dealers often organize exhibitions in their galleries or partner with museums and institutions. These exhibitions provide artists with platforms to showcase their work, gain recognition, and connect with new audiences.

Art history majors who pursue careers as art dealers leverage their knowledge of art history, visual analysis, and market dynamics to navigate the complexities of the art world. They act as cultural intermediaries, fostering connections between artists, collectors, and the public, and contributing to the growth and appreciation of art.

Art Historians

Art historians play a significant role in the field of art history, contributing to our understanding and appreciation of art throughout history. Their research, analysis, and interpretation of artworks provide valuable insights into the cultural, social, and historical contexts in which they were created.

  • Research and Writing
    Art historians conduct in-depth research on various aspects of art, including specific artists, art movements, periods, and themes. They analyze artworks, examine historical documents, and consult with experts to develop new interpretations and theories.
  • Teaching and Education
    Many art historians work as professors or lecturers at universities and colleges, teaching courses on art history, art appreciation, and related subjects. They share their knowledge and expertise with students, fostering a deeper understanding of art and its significance.
  • Museum and Curatorial Work
    Art historians are often employed by museums and galleries, where they contribute to the preservation, interpretation, and display of artworks. They may work as curators, researchers, or educators, developing exhibitions, writing labels and wall texts, and engaging with the public.
  • Art Criticism and Journalism
    Art historians may also work as art critics or journalists, writing reviews, essays, and articles on contemporary art exhibitions and trends. They provide critical analysis and commentary on the art world, shaping public opinion and contributing to the discourse on art.

Overall, art historians play a crucial role in the field of art history, contributing to our understanding and appreciation of art through their research, teaching, curatorial work, and critical analysis. They bridge the gap between the past and present, helping us to connect with and learn from the artistic achievements of different cultures and time periods.


Archivists are information professionals responsible for acquiring, preserving, and providing access to historical records and cultural heritage materials. Their work is crucial in preserving the collective memory of societies and institutions, making them essential contributors to the field of art history.

  • Preservation and Conservation
    Archivists play a vital role in preserving and conserving art-related materials, including documents, photographs, sketches, and other archival records. They ensure that these materials are stored in climate-controlled environments and handled with care to prevent deterioration and damage.
  • Research and Access
    Archivists provide access to archival materials for researchers, scholars, and the public. They create finding aids and cataloguing systems to make it easier for users to locate and retrieve relevant materials. Archivists also assist researchers in using the materials, providing guidance and expertise.
  • Exhibition and Outreach
    Archivists may collaborate with curators and other professionals to develop exhibitions and educational programs based on archival materials. They also participate in outreach activities to promote awareness and understanding of the importance of archives and the history they preserve.
  • Digital Preservation and Access
    In the digital age, archivists are increasingly involved in preserving and providing access to digital records and born-digital materials. They work with IT specialists to ensure that these materials are stored securely and remain accessible in the long term.

Archivists with an art history background bring specialized knowledge and skills to their work. They are able to identify and evaluate the significance of art-related materials and provide expert guidance to researchers and the public. Their contributions are essential for preserving and sharing the rich artistic heritage of cultures and societies.

Art Critics

Art critics play a significant role in the art world, providing critical analysis and commentary on contemporary art exhibitions and trends. Their insights shape public opinion, influence artistic discourse, and contribute to the understanding and appreciation of art.

  • Critical Analysis and Interpretation
    Art critics analyze and interpret artworks, providing their unique perspectives and insights. They examine the formal qualities, techniques, and conceptual underpinnings of art, offering their interpretations and judgments on its significance and value.
  • Art Journalism and Reviews
    Many art critics work as journalists, writing reviews and articles for newspapers, magazines, and online publications. They provide timely critiques of current exhibitions, offering their opinions and engaging in critical dialogue with artists, curators, and the public.
  • Curating and Exhibition Organization
    Some art critics also work as curators or exhibition organizers, bringing their critical expertise to the selection and presentation of artworks. They develop exhibitions that explore specific themes or artistic movements, providing interpretive frameworks and educational materials for visitors.
  • Art History and Scholarship
    Art critics often have a strong foundation in art history and theory, which informs their critical analysis and writing. They may also engage in scholarly research, publishing books and articles that contribute to the broader understanding of art and its historical and cultural contexts.

Art critics with an art history background bring a deep understanding of art history, visual analysis, and critical theory to their work. They are able to situate contemporary art within its historical and cultural contexts, providing valuable insights into the evolution of artistic practices and the significance of individual artworks.

Art Educators

Art educators play a vital role in the field of art history, sharing their knowledge and passion for art with students of all ages. They are instrumental in fostering an appreciation for art and developing critical thinking skills, creativity, and visual literacy.

  • Teaching and Curriculum Development
    Art educators develop and implement art curricula, lesson plans, and teaching methods that engage students and promote their artistic growth. They create a supportive and stimulating learning environment that encourages students to explore their creativity and develop their artistic skills.
  • Assessment and Evaluation
    Art educators assess and evaluate student learning through various methods, including observations, critiques, portfolios, and exhibitions. They provide constructive feedback and guidance to help students improve their artistic abilities and understanding of art.
  • Community Involvement and Outreach
    Many art educators are involved in community outreach programs and initiatives that bring art education to underserved communities. They collaborate with local organizations, museums, and galleries to provide art workshops, exhibitions, and educational resources.
  • Art History Integration
    Art educators often integrate art history into their teaching, providing students with a context for understanding the development of art and its relationship to history, culture, and society.

Art educators with a background in art history bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their teaching. They are able to connect art to broader historical and cultural contexts, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of art in their students.

Nonprofit Arts Administrators

Within the realm of “what jobs do art history majors get?”, Nonprofit Arts Administrators play a pivotal role. These professionals oversee the day-to-day operations and strategic direction of nonprofit arts organizations, a significant sector in the art world responsible for fostering cultural enrichment and community engagement.

Art history majors are uniquely positioned to excel in Nonprofit Arts Administration due to their comprehensive understanding of the art world, its history, and its cultural impact. Their expertise enables them to effectively manage collections, curate exhibitions, develop educational programs, and cultivate relationships with donors and patrons.

The responsibilities of a Nonprofit Arts Administrator encompass a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Program Development – Planning and implementing exhibitions, performances, educational programs, and outreach initiatives.
  • Fundraising and Grant Management – Securing financial support through grants, donations, and fundraising events.
  • Audience Development – Attracting and engaging diverse audiences through marketing, public relations, and community outreach efforts. li>

Financial Management – Overseeing the organization’s financial resources and ensuring fiscal responsibility.

The practical significance of understanding the connection between Nonprofit Arts Administrators and “what jobs do art history majors get?” lies in the career opportunities it opens up for art history graduates. With a deep understanding of the art world and a commitment to community engagement, art history majors can make meaningful contributions to the nonprofit arts sector, supporting the creation, preservation, and accessibility of art for all.

FAQs on “What Jobs Do Art History Majors Get?”

The realm of career opportunities for art history graduates extends beyond traditional museum and gallery positions. This section addresses frequently asked questions to provide a comprehensive understanding of the diverse job prospects available to art history majors.

Question 1: What are some non-traditional career paths for art history majors?

Answer: In addition to museum curators and gallery directors, art history majors can pursue careers as art dealers, art historians, archivists, art critics, art educators, and nonprofit arts administrators. These roles encompass a wide range of responsibilities, from managing art collections and exhibitions to conducting research, writing, teaching, and advocating for the arts.

Question 2: How does an art history degree prepare graduates for careers outside of the art world?

Answer: The analytical, research, writing, and communication skills developed in an art history program are highly transferable to various fields. Graduates are well-suited for careers in journalism, law, business, education, and other industries that value critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication.

Question 3: Is it necessary to have a graduate degree in art history to secure a job in the field?

Answer: While a graduate degree can enhance career prospects, it is not always a requirement for entry-level positions. Many art history majors successfully enter the job market with a bachelor’s degree, particularly in roles such as gallery assistants, educators, and nonprofit arts administrators.

Question 4: What are the earning prospects for art history majors?

Answer: Salaries for art history majors vary depending on their career path, experience, and location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for museum curators and gallery directors was $51,430 in May 2021. Art historians held median annual salaries of $68,460, while art teachers at the secondary school level earned a median of $62,840.

Question 5: How can art history majors stay competitive in the job market?

Answer: To enhance their competitiveness, art history majors should develop strong research, writing, and communication skills, gain practical experience through internships and volunteer work, and network with professionals in the field. Additionally, pursuing specialized training or certifications in areas such as art appraisal, conservation, or museum studies can increase their marketability.

Question 6: What are some tips for art history majors seeking employment?

Answer: Art history majors should tailor their resumes and cover letters to specific job descriptions, highlighting relevant skills and experience. They should also practice their interviewing skills and be prepared to discuss their passion for art, their understanding of the field, and their career goals.

These FAQs provide insights into the diverse career opportunities available to art history majors and the steps they can take to prepare for success in the job market.

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While an art history degree opens doors to a wide range of job prospects, it is essential to conduct thorough research and network with professionals in the field to fully explore career options and make informed decisions.

Tips for Art History Majors Navigating Career Options

To maximize success in the job market, art history majors should consider the following tips:

Tip 1: Explore Diverse Career Paths Research various job opportunities within and beyond the traditional art world. Consider roles such as art dealer, art historian, archivist, art critic, art educator, and nonprofit arts administrator.

Tip 2: Develop Transferable Skills Enhance analytical, research, writing, and communication skills. These are highly valued in various industries, including journalism, law, business, and education.

Tip 3: Gain Practical Experience Internships, volunteer work, and participation in art-related projects provide valuable hands-on experience and build professional connections.

Tip 4: Network with Professionals Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with individuals in the field to expand your network and gain insights into career opportunities.

Tip 5: Specialize and Certify Consider pursuing specialized training or certifications in areas such as art appraisal, conservation, or museum studies to enhance your marketability.

Tip 6: Tailor Your Job Search Materials Customize your resume and cover letter to highlight relevant skills and experiences for each job application.

Tip 7: Prepare for Interviews Practice your interviewing skills and be prepared to discuss your passion for art, your understanding of the field, and your career goals.

Tip 8: Leverage University Resources Utilize career services, faculty mentorship, and alumni networks at your university for guidance and support in your job search.

By following these tips, art history majors can effectively navigate career options, showcase their skills and knowledge, and position themselves for success in the competitive job market.


The exploration of “what jobs do art history majors get?” reveals a diverse and rewarding career landscape. Art history graduates are not limited to traditional museum and gallery positions but can pursue a wide range of roles that leverage their specialized knowledge and transferable skills. From art dealing and art criticism to archival research and nonprofit arts administration, art history majors are making significant contributions in various fields.

As the art world continues to evolve, so too will the demand for professionals with a deep understanding of art history and its cultural significance. By embracing diverse career paths and developing adaptable skills, art history majors can position themselves for success in an ever-changing job market. The opportunities for art history graduates extend far beyond the walls of museums and galleries, offering exciting and fulfilling career prospects that contribute to the preservation, interpretation, and appreciation of art.

Uncover Hidden Career Paths: Art History's Untapped Potential