How to Become A Curator

Curators are typically tasked with the management of supervising museum collections. They not only manage the acquisition of art pieces but also oversee their proper preservation and display among other museum artifacts.

Should I Become a Curator?

Curators are responsible for validating the authenticity of the origin and actual age of an art-piece. They may be employed in public or private museums where they may be required to arrange fundraisers, maintain public relations, public events and so on. Their job requires them to be on their feet and sometimes even work longer hours. They are supposed to have excellent critical thinking and interpersonal skills. They are also in charge of maintaining and updating the databases of organizations they work for.

Education Required

A master’s degree

Major Requirement

Art History, Archeology, Museum Studies or related field




3-5 years

Key Skills

Analytical, Interpersonal, Detail Oriented, Creative and so on.

Annual Mean Salary (2019)

$59,130 (Curators)

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

9%  (Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for Curators

In 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported $59,130 as the annual mean salary for Curators which roughly equates to $28.43 mean wage per hour. In addition to that, BLS predicted a 9% increase in the employment level for Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers between 2018 and 2028. This expected rise is considered to be faster than the average for all other occupations. It is mainly due to the consistent interest of art lovers who frequently visit the museums and other cultural centers. Keeping that in mind, BLS predicts an increased demand for Curators in the coming years.

Furthermore, Federal Executive Branch was listed as the top paying industry for this career by the BLS in 2019 with an annual mean salary of $84,300. In addition to that, New York was named as the state with the highest employment rate (1,580) whereas, the District of Columbia was named as the top paying state with an annual mean salary of $80,760 for this occupation.

Steps to Become a Curator

People who want to work in this field must possess the required level of education and experience. The requirements of the job vary for almost every employer however, the consistent requirements are explained below.

Step-1: Education

To begin working as a Curator, you must obtain at least a master's degree in Museum History, Archeology, Art, History or a related field. There are various universities in the US that offer accredited and well-recognized degrees in these subjects. Some high level or advanced positions may even require a PhD in these subjects along with up to 5 years of field experience.

Step-2: Work Experience

Most employers prefer hiring individuals who have at least 4 to 5 years of experience in this field after graduating from a master’s degree in a relevant subject. You may gain this experience through various means. You can choose to work as an intern or apprentice or as an assistant to an experienced curator. Employers prefer candidates with experience in areas such as, management of collection, restoration of old art pieces, research in rare art, exhibit design and database management etc.

Step-3: Certifications, Licensure or Registration

Although it is not mandatory for Curators to be licensed, registered or certified, many opt to get some certifications. Organizations like, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, provide people with specific in-house trainings. If you are interested, visit their website for further information.

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