Curator Career

curator-500Curators work as the overseers of collections, historical items and artwork, usually in a museum or institutional setting. The position generally requires an advanced degree and lots of creativity. Curators collect items for display and design exhibits. They may also conduct research and complete public service activities as part of their job.

Curators are often involved in the purchasing and negotiating of items for a collection. Some curators specialize in certain fields (botany, for instance, or history). The work you do as a curator can vary largely depending on the size and scope of your institution.

Curator Career Snapshot

Most curators work full time at public and private institutions, which can include anything from zoos, aquariums and nature centers to art museums, cultural organizations and historical sites. Some curators work behind the scenes in a desk setting while others work face-to-face with the public.

Further details on a career as a curator are listed below (statistics from the May 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the estimated yearly salary for curators.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have a Doctoral degree while 26% have a Master’s degree.

Curator Education

If you would like to become a curator, you’d need to get an advanced degree. Most positions require at least a master’s degree in history, archaeology, or museum studies. Depending on the institution for which you’re applying, a degree in another specialization (i.e., a degree in biology or zoology to work as a curator for a zoo) may be required.

Curator Job Duties

Job duties for a curator can differ depending on the employing organization, but most curators can expect to store exhibit collections, prepare materials for display, conduct tours and administer workshops. Curators may be required to confirm that a display piece is authentic and not a fake, so having specific knowledge about art, history or other fields of study is very useful if you would like to go into curation.

Curator Salaries

Curator salaries vary by experience and institution size. Some curators at smaller organizations make an average of $28,440 annually, while those who work at larger institutions might make $91,710 per year according to 2015 reports. If you decide to go into curation, you can expect to make an average annual salary of about $51,520.

Curator Job Outlook

In 2014, there were an estimated 13,100 curators in the United States. That number is expected to grow by another 1,000 jobs by the year 2024. With the number of museum visitors growing each year, there will be some demand for curators to manage the collections these institutions have on hand.

Curator Skills & Traits

Curator Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Curators:Typical Work Activities:
• Speaking
• Reading Comprehension
• Active Listening
• Writing
• Critical Thinking
• Oral Comprehension
• Oral Expression
• Written Expression
• Category Flexibility
• Problem Sensitivity
• Digital cameras
• Precision levels
• Mat cutters
• Digitizers
• Slotted screwdrivers
• Creative Thinking
• Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People
• Communicating with Others
• Getting Information
• Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work

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