Salary Guidelines 2017

Addressing pay levels in museums
Low pay is widely recognised as a major problem for the sector. Museum pay is falling behind that of comparable sectors, and is barely keeping up with the cost of living.

To address this issue the Museums Association (MA) has produced Salary Guidelines 2017, drawing on a report into pay in the sector conducted by specialist research company Incomes Data Research, which was funded by Arts Council England. The MA will continue to revise these guidelines in future.

The guidelines are intended as a practical document to be used when setting starting salaries for museums posts. They can also be used as an advocacy tool to raise the issue of pay with employers and funding bodies.

The guidelines include suggested salaries for a range of museum posts, and comparisons of salaries of similar posts in related sectors. They seek to raise awareness of the issues surrounding pay within museums and generally improve levels of pay within the sector.

They are intended to be of use to all UK museums, whether large nationals with over 500 staff or small independents with one paid member of staff. Regardless of the type of museum or job title, it is knowledge, experience and most importantly responsibilities that should determine salaries.

Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, says: “We know that poor pay and limited opportunities for progression can be off-putting when people are thinking about potential careers. And we also know that a narrow entry path can squeeze some people out, especially if it is combined with recruitment that focuses on mirroring the workforce that we already have.

“I hope these salary guidelines can support employers, funders and stakeholders to be brave and enlightened and to reflect and reward the hard-work, knowledge and enthusiasm of everyone that works in and with museums and galleries.”

The MA intends to follow up on these guidelines with further research into best practice in recruitment and short-term and freelance pay.

The MA's has previously published a number of reports and guidelines on salary levels in the sector, beginning with the Pay in Museums report in 2004, followed by salary guidelines in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The MA welcomes comments, particularly from those who have used the document as an advocacy tool or as a practical guide for setting salaries.

Please email with any queries:

Links and downloads

Salary Guidelines 2017 (pdf)

Salary Guidelines 2009 (pdf)

Salary Guidelines 2008 (pdf)

Salary Guidelines 2007 (pdf)

Salary Guidelines 2006 (pdf)

Pay in Museums 2004 (pdf)


Sort by: Most recent - Most liked
11.03.2020, 19:28
I think the main problem has to do with a lack of joined up thinking on contracts. If we are to aim for better inclusivity amongst our staff then we need to be looking at contracts that fit in with the state benefits available. All too often there 15 hour contracts, exactly one hour below the minimum for a single person's working hours requirement for working tax credits and child tax credits, or 24 hours contracts, which again is below the 30 required for a two adult working family to gain credits. Are museum managers and organisation leaders are actually looking at this? It is particularly important as most entry level museum jobs are part time, and many at a supervisory level are too. The document needs to be updated again as we have new salaries for April 2020, though they won't make a deal of difference if the above is not addressed.
Luanne Meehitiya
Interpretation consultant, Cultural Innovations
10.11.2017, 14:42
Archivist/curator pay has fell 9% in 5 years (16% inc. inflation) - the 7th biggest fall of all UK job categories.

In that time the role has gone from above the average UK salary to below it. For a highly educated workforce that have spent a fortune on their education and volunteering.

I feel like we all need to get way, way more angry about this to make anything happen.

(I'm not just talking about curators by the way, that's just their category)
Luanne Meehitiya
Interpretation consultant, Birmingham Museums Trust
01.11.2017, 14:58

These have been called Salary Guidelines, but don't they set out what people are being paid rather than what they should be paid? The 7% behind comparable roles in other industries figure hasn't actually been factored into the guidelines has it? Have you analysed how these benchmarks have changed since 2004, both in real terms and bearing in mind inflation? The way you change the data collection categories doesn't help but you could probably still have a stab at it. I suspect the lack of progression during that time would be a very helpful figure for advocacy.

Alistair Brown
Policy Officer, Museums Association
03.11.2017, 16:50
The guidelines are meant to allow museums to benchmark pay within the sector, as well as to benchmark pay against equivalents outside the sector. They also encourage museums to take into account inflation when assessing pay in future years. Unfortunately we weren't able to do a like-for-like comparison with the 2004 study in this research, but broadly speaking the growth in salaries has been weak in the 13 years since it was done.
Hans-Christian Andersen
Senior Lecturer in Cultural Tourism, Newcastle Business School
10.10.2017, 14:25
Hi - do you have an update on the publication of this yet? Thanks
Alistair Brown
Policy Officer, Museums Association
10.10.2017, 15:39
They're due for publication at the end of October.
Charlotte Pratley
Director, Culture Syndicates CIC
07.09.2016, 17:54
Are there any plans to update the guidelines? The jobs market has changed dramatically since 2009 but I can imagine it is a huge undertaking to gather the data, and not a straight forward issue to report on.
Alistair Brown
Policy Officer, Museums Association
12.09.2016, 09:39
Hi Charlotte,
We will be conducting a salary survey over the course of the winter and publishing new guidelines in 2017 - they should be really useful for the sector.