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Languages, Information and Culture

The Job Market

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Find out about the job market in:

Cultural heritage



Cultural heritage...

  • Over 55,000 people work in the cultural heritage sector across the UK. 59% of these people work in museums.
  • Recent research published by Arts and Business (April 2009), based on a sample of 250 arts organisations nationally, suggests that while revenue from retail, ticket sales, cafés and restaurants are holding up, funding from private investment and trusts and foundations had decreased, so many venues needed to raise more money and scale back on some projects, exhibitions and performances.
  • According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS -2009) in 2008/2009, visits to DCMS sponsored museums had increased by one per cent on the same period in the previous year. (


  • About 6000 people in the UK earn their living as archaeologists. Employers include planning consultancies, university archaeology departments and research groups, national or local government, national bodies and heritage agencies such as English Heritage, charities such as the National Trust, and archaeological organisations such as the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA).
  • The number of professional archaeologists is increasing, and further growth is expected. Entry to this profession is highly competitive and recent growth in undergraduate intake onto degree courses is not matched by the number of jobs available.

Art exhibition organisers

  • Staff are employed in galleries and museums throughout the UK. Some galleries and museums are funded by national or local government. Independent public art galleries raise income by charging for exhibitions or through admission fees.
  • Short, fixed-term work contracts are common, as long-term funding for the arts is often uncertain.


  • Conservators/restorers can work in both the public and private cultural heritage sector. Many work in museums, although there has been a decline in permanent vacancies, as work is often contracted out to self-employed conservators/restorers.
  • Although there is a shortage of conservators/restorers with the necessary skills, there is also fierce competition for jobs.

Museum assistants/technicians, visitor services assistants and curators

  • There are around 2,500 museums and art galleries throughout the UK. The number of staff employed varies according to the size and type of museum or gallery.
  • On average, about half of all staff work in visitor services. Some small independent museums and galleries rely also on unpaid volunteers to provide visitor services.
  • Curators may also work in university museums and smaller independent specialist museums and galleries. Freelance and consultancy work is becoming more common, with curators with specialist knowledge employed on short-term contracts to work on specific exhibitions. There is a high level of competition for curator jobs.



  • 50,000 people work in libraries, archives and information services


  • There is a shortage of archivists, and employment prospects are good at the moment.
  • There are around 1,500 archivists in the UK. Just under half are employed in local government. The other main employers are national archives and museums, universities, businesses and charities. Although there are opportunities in all areas of the country, a high proportion of specialist posts are in London.
  • Competition for places on postgraduate courses is fierce and applicants need to gain some work experience first. This can be paid or voluntary. The Society of Archivists can provide details of organisations that offer work experience placements. Local authorities also offer voluntary opportunities.

 Information Scientists

  • Although competition for jobs is high, the scope of the work means that there are many potential employers including government departments, educational institutions, companies such as accountants, law firms and architects, insurance companies and banks and charities and pressure groups.
  • Jobs are available nationwide, but most are in south-east England and around large cities such as London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds.
  • There are currently good opportunities for information scientists with specialist knowledge in science and computer science.

Librarians and Library Assistants

  • There are approximately 41,000 librarians and library assistants working in the UK, of whom 29,000 work in public and national libraries, and 12,000 work in academic libraries.
  • Other libraries contain materials of specialist interest. These include libraries maintained within hospitals, legal institutions, research establishments, charities and some businesses. These would usually employ librarians who have some background in the specialist subject.



  • The majority of people using languages in their jobs do not work in specialist areas as they use their languages as an extra skill.
  • There are approximately only 7,000 professional linguists.
  • Languages may enable you to work overseas in your chosen trade or profession or succeed in jobs in international companies where it is important to know about the language and culture of the company's main trading partners. 
  • As we live in a European labour market, a skill in languages may also enable you to apply successfully for vacancies in other European countries.


  • The Chartered Institute of Linguists (IoL) has around 6,500 Fellows, Members and Associate Members. The National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) currently lists almost 2,000 UK members, while the International Association of Conference Interpreters has nearly 2,900 members worldwide.
  • The European Commission (EC) reports a severe shortage of native English speakers with strong language skills, as they expect at least one third of their current English language interpreters to retire by 2015.
  •  It is also possible to work as a public service interpreter - in community languages and this can involve working in local government offices, hospitals, immigration centres, law courts, police stations and prisons.
  • Freelance interpreters need to develop their business by marketing themselves, gaining a reputation and fostering contacts. There are many opportunities for working abroad, either permanently or on a freelance basis. Some may combine interpreting with translating or even teaching.

Language service professionals

  • The number of people working as Language service professionals is small, and there is a shortage of qualified staff. There are around 690 registered BSL/English interpreters in the UK and probably fewer than 500 other LSPs.
  • Self-employment is very common, particularly for BSL/English interpreters, speech-to-text reporters and lipspeakers. Notetakers may be self-employed or may be directly employed by educational institutions. Deafblind communicator guides and interpreters may be employed by deafblind organisations or local authorities.


  • Most translators are freelancers, finding work through translation companies or direct from clients. While the opportunities for work are growing, there is competition for salaried jobs and for freelance projects. Some translators combine the job with other work, such as teaching or proofreading.
  • Employers of full-time translators include international organisations, including the European Union (EU) institutions, the United Nations (UN) and NATO, some government departments, large multinational companies, including industry, banks and press agencies and translation agencies.