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Languages, Information and Culture

The Job Market



The numbers visiting museums and other cultural heritage attractions have held up well over the last few years. However, because funding often comes from the government or from charitable donations, the future of some of the venues is uncertain. 


  • 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).
  • 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.



  • There is a shortage of archivists. The main employers are local government, 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.
  • Applicants to postgraduate courses need to gain some work experience first. The Society of Archivists can provide details of organisations that offer work experience placements. Local authorities might 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.
  • Opportunities are more likely for information scientists with specialist knowledge in science and computer science.

Librarians and Library Assistants

  • Well over half of all librarians and library assistants work in public and national libraries although there are also plenty of staff working in academic libraries.
  • Other libraries include those within hospitals, legal institutions, research establishments, charities and some businesses. They would usually employ librarians who have some background in the specialist subject.


  • Most people using languages in their jobs do not work in specialist areas as they use their languages as an extra skill.
  • There are only a few thousand professional linguists. 
  • The UK lags behind many other European countries when it comes to learning and speaking other languages.


  • 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 and gaining a reputation. 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 - for instance, there are only a few hundred registered British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters in the UK.
  • 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, such as 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.