Heritage managers are responsible for the preservation, management, and conservation of heritage sites, such as landscapes, monuments, historic buildings, and museums.
As a heritage manager, you will have a broad range of responsibilities, including preserving important sites so they can be enjoyed by the public, maintaining the industrial legacy of a region, and creating plans to keep community culture alive.
In addition to preserving sites, experienced heritage managers may also need to generate income for business sustainability.
As a Wellsite Geologist you will need to:
- Ensure all conservation work is carried out within the allocated budget.
- Strategically plan for the future of the heritage site.
- Secure funding.
- Manage the commercial gift shop/café.
- Plan commercial activities to generate income, such as hiring out the venue for weddings and film/TV shoots.
- Plan and supervise conservation and renovation work.
- Recruit, train, supervise and lead staff and volunteers.
- Ensure the sustainability of the business model by raising visitor numbers and increasing the tourist market share.
- Develop working relationships with the media to promote the heritage site.
- Set entrance, sponsorship, and membership fees.
- Write reports.
- Take the lead in project management.
- Make the site as enjoyable and educational as possible.
- Work in line with health and safety legislation to keep visitors, staff, and contractors safe.
- Liaise with heritage organisations, regional development agencies, touring bodies, and professional associations on joint-venture and co-funded projects.
- Set out procedures and policies for the preservation of a historic site.
- Communicate with local authorities and national bodies.
- Create and analyse feedback surveys.
- Stay up to date with developments in historical research and heritage tourism.
- Answer enquiries from members of the public and researchers.
- Create outreach programmes for the local community.
- The starting salary for a trainee heritage manager is £16,000 – £21,000. Graduates from relevant postgraduate degrees may be able to secure a starting salary of £25,000.
- The average salary for a heritage manager with 2 – 3 years’ experience is £25,000 – £40,000.
- A heritage manager working at a director or senior level could earn up to £70,000.
Working hours vary significantly depending on the heritage sites; weekend shifts are common if visitor attractions are open during the weekend, and late nights may be required for evening events or filming.
For experienced candidates, career breaks, job sharing, and part-time work are possible.
What to Expect
- Many heritage managers spend much of their working day in an office, although working outside in all weather is sometimes required while overseeing guided tours or supervising conservation work.
- Vacancies are available in all regions of the UK, including rural and urban locations.
- Self-employment and consultancy opportunities are typically only available for senior level heritage managers; bid writers and private consultants earn £250 a day on average.
- Area managers working for national organisations will be expected to travel regionally and nationally, whereas managers for museums or other urban sites will be centrally based.
- Managers primarily focused on marketing and collection management will frequently be expected to attend meetings, which may also involve overnight stays.
Most employers prefer to employ graduates, especially graduates with degrees in:
- Estate management
- Heritage studies
- History of art
- Project Management
Job candidates with foundation degrees and higher national diplomas may struggle to enter the job market as a heritage manager. However, work experience can be gained in lower-level jobs in the industry, such as visitor reception and retail positions. Seasonal posts and internships frequently become available in the summer months.
Postgraduate qualifications may also be required for candidates looking to seek employment within museum management. Postgraduate courses in teaching, communication, marketing, and finance may also prepare you well for the responsibilities you will undertake as a heritage manager.
As a heritage manager, you will need:
- The ability to work and communicate with a broad range of people.
- Excellent written and communication skills.
- A passion for preserving heritage sites and an avid interest in the heritage sector.
- The motivation to continue learning about the heritage sector.
- Awareness of relevant and current political agendas and schemes.
- The ability to negotiate with contractors and external funding sources to stay within budget.
- Administrative, IT, and digital media skills.
- Customer service skills.
- Commercial awareness.
- The ability to lead and work well with a team.
- Project and time management skills.
- The confidence to use your own initiative and creative problem-solving skills.
- A flexible approach to your workload.
- Experience of collaborative working.
In addition to an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, depending on the employer, you will need relevant paid or voluntary work experience to stand out in the fiercely competitive job industry.
The best way to pick up work experience is to seek seasonal work as a visitor reception assistant, interpreter, or tour guide. The National Trust and The Wordsworth Trust also offer paid training programmes for a variety of their sites and buildings.
For voluntary roles, English Heritage and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland are good places to start your search.
The job market is highly volatile, and it isn’t uncommon for geologists to change their employer to scale the career ladder.
Typically, heritage managers progress on their career paths by gaining experience and developing areas of professional interest and personal strength, which can lead to gaining greater responsibility as senior-level managers.
Larger companies, such as national organisations will provide the best scope for internal promotions into property management roles. Alternatively, other managers choose to continue their careers as bid writers, working on a self-employed consultancy basis.
Heritage managers are mainly employed by:
- Amenity societies
- Conservation charities
- Heritage trusts and centres
- Historic houses
- Local authorities
- Tourist boards
As project management is a major part of the heritage manager job role, the MSc Project Management postgraduate degree can prepare prospective heritage managers for successful careers in the industry. During the degree, you will learn problem-solving, communication, critical thinking, research, and IT skills, all of which will serve you well in your career aspirations. Many alumnae have secured employment within architecture and real estate development.