Like all liberal arts degrees, a degree in art history indicates reflects a comprehensive education with an emphasis on critical thinking, analysis, and communication skills. For those with a bachelor’s degree, jobs in exhibition installation for galleries, museums, universities and private organizations are possible. While these are not usually high paying or high prestige jobs, they can provide useful contacts and practical experience that can later be useful in obtaining a better position.
Other possible employment opportunities for those with a BA in Art History include working retail in a museum or gallery store, as well as overseeing the selection, manufacture and marketing of reproductions of works of art for a wholesale or retail business. Again many of these positions are simply entry-level jobs that provide experience and an opportunity to network that can later be used to advance in the field.
Art history graduates who have a skill with words will find that freelance writers who can research and effectively communicate on the topics of art criticism, art history and art-related travel tours are generally needed by various online and offline publications. And academic, commercial and independent publishers who feature books and other printed material about art need to hire competent copy editors, editors and staff writers who are knowledgeable about art.
For those who have additional training or a graduate degree, however, the job field is considerably wider. Art history graduates with some advanced training in preservation and conservation can find employment as painting conservationists, architectural conservationists or other specialized conservation positions with museums, private collections, art galleries, auction houses, historical societies and heritage sights.
And those art history majors who have special training as art appraisers and estate appraisers will find themselves in demand by those organizations as well as the general public.
Art history students with a Master’s Degree or higher may find work related to their training as a curatorial consultant, corporate curator, art consultant, art investment advisor, or collection manager for individuals, businesses, museums, and galleries. They may also choose to work directly with practicing artists as artist representatives.
Education and teaching positions in the art history field are another possibility for those with a graduate level degree. Depending on their training and interests, art history graduates can instruct students at every level from elementary education through post-graduate studies in academic positions at schools, museums, and galleries.
Other job possibilities for students with at least an MA in Art History are art librarian and visual resources coordinator for education or industrial collections. And museum or gallery staff positions specializing in some area of art, as well as general administrative positions, are also possible for those with advanced training and academic degrees.
For those who prefer the security of the government sector, various Governmental Agencies including the NEA, NEH, Archives of American Art, state and local arts councils all have staff and administrative positions that may be suitable for someone with an art history degree.
And for those who prefer to work for themselves, an art history degree can provide the perfect training for becoming an Antiques Dealer. So while an art history degree may not have the obvious marketability of a computer science or nursing certification, there are actually many possible satisfying and rewarding careers available in this field.