The job that will pay you $64K to research craft beer

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is looking to hire a beer historian "to conduct archival and field research for a new initiative on American brewing history, with special emphasis on the craft industry." (Image: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/ DC Refined)

Hey, beer buffs! Put down your IPA for a hot second and listen up. If you've ever dreamed about a job researching beer, with an emphasis on the craft movement, today is your lucky day. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) is currently looking to hire a "professional historian/scholar to conduct archival and field research for a new initiative on American brewing history, with special emphasis on the craft industry," according to the job announcement. Yep, that's right -- beer historian is now a job you can apply for.

The opportunity came as a gift from the Brewer's Association who is helping to fund this three-year position in order to bring a historian on staff to focus on telling the important story surrounding American brewing.

"We have a very active food history program here at the museum and for many years we've been hoping to do some research, documentation and collection around brewing history in the same way we've done work on winemaking and the changes in winemaking since prohibition," says Paula Johnson, curator of the Division of Work and Industry for NMAH.

While Johnson acknowledges that this isn't the kind of job you can do from a desk in downtown D.C., it also doesn't mean the job entails drinking fantastic beers all day. Instead, "archival field research" will involve a lot of travel all over the country to the many regions in which craft brewing has been instrumental in establishing community identities. The hiree will be working to expand the museum's collections, including artifacts such as archival documents, business records, branding and logo development, label sketches, brewery floor plans

"I've been here for 26 years and no two days have been alike," laughs Johnson. "This person is going to be a member of our team for three years and there's a lot to be done here between researching collection items we already have on hand, arranging for new objects to become part of our permanent exhibits, answering questions from the public and coordinating the two annual public programs a year that will be associated with this position."

So what makes one an ideal candidate for this dream job exactly?

  • proven experience in scholarly research
  • ability to coordinate and conduct oral history interviews
  • organizational skills
  • strong written skills, with experience writing for both scholarly and general audiences
  • knowledge of material culture and archival materials
  • willing to travel
  • adhere to deadlines
  • work independently as well as within a team environment
  • effective communicator (with co-workers and the general public)
  • an advanced degree in American business, brewing, food, cultural, or similar specialization within history is a plus

See the full job posting details here.

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