Being a graduate from the History of Art discipline provides the same options to graduates who have studied other similar Humanities related subjects like History or Psychology. Graduates from this discipline have another advantage over those who studied History, for example, and that is a superb visual and critical awareness that can come in use in a range of sectors and industries.
Studying History of Art also enriches a graduate's cultural awareness. This might not seem relevant to a work place but if a graduate can persuade an employer that because they studied History of Art they are able to understand complex ideas in different contexts then it will go a long way to helping their chances of employment.
While the opportunities to start a career as a Museum or Gallery Curator might be limited, graduates have collected a myriad of skills and experiences that can be manipulated and reshaped to suit the needs of the employer and the job.
What can you offer to employers?
Analysis - Much of the work undertaken during the study of Art History requires close attention and analysis to be paid to a range of texts and art works, through different reading methods and looking for different outcomes.
Communication - Communication skills from History of Art students are superb. Whether it be written, spoken or presentation skills, Art History graduates have the clarity to deal with complex ideas and can propose reasoned arguments, always making sure to keep the audience and their understanding in mind.
Critical awareness - History of Art graduates are well versed in applying different modes of reading to different texts, images or studies. Not only this, they are able to keep focused on one goal while taking in the bigger picture.
Research skills - History of Art graduates have excellent research skills and will have had to undertake in-depth and prolonged studies of themes or artists during their time at university. They have the skills to be able consume large amounts of information, digest it and retain the key facts and relevant arguments.
Problem solving - As with any other Humanities, History of Art has allowed its scholars a little bit of room for debate and discussion. This has allowed History of Art graduates to weigh up and conclude in difficult positions, always in a balanced and reasonable approach.
Visual awareness - Very similar to attention to detail, graduates from History of Art are sticklers for the miniscule. This has developed a keen eye for small details that can be lost in the big picture.
Source HECSU - What do graduates do? 2013.
What employers can you impress?
It is highly unlikely that a graduate opportunity would become available for Head Curator at the Tate. Rather graduates looking to develop a career in the Art world will have to start relatively small and work very hard to get into this highly competitive industry. If this is the intention of a History of Art graduate, it is likely that Arts and Design sector would provide the most relevent opportunities. However, it is worth repeating that it is unlikely that these competitive positions will be open for very long.
Another route into employment that History of Art graduates might consider would be applying the skills they've gained during their degree and applying it to different fields to start a career in a different industry. The first area that graduates from History of Art might consider looking at could be the Advertising and Public Relations industries. This would build on a graduate's work with details and understanding of representations and portrayals. Graduates would be able to easily execute roles in this field with their strong levels of communication, higher understanding of texts, particularly visual texts, and audience interaction with any published material.
Media could be another avenue for graduates to pursue. History of Art graduates have worked hard to allow their understanding of portrayals and representations, but also have an understanding of cultural influences and movements, all of which are actively welcomed in many Media circles.