How to Become An Art Curator

Art is a vital part of human expression and history. Preserving and maintaining it is the job of the Art Curator who works diligently to bring spectacular pieces of art to the public eye. Employed by museums, art galleries and auction houses, the role of an art curator involves the following.

  • Acquire, store, and properly preserve valuable art pieces.
  • Maintain collections at museums and art galleries.
  • Organize and manage art exhibits, lectures, workshops and fundraising activities.

If you believe you have what it takes to become a successful Art Curator in the US, then go through this piece to find out how to become one.

Should I Become an Art Curator?

Art Curators are very passionate and highly knowledgeable about the arts. If you also have more than just a passing interest in the field, then becoming an art curator can be a good career choice. You will need to develop a broad skillset to do so. Also, most professionals specialize in particular areas of art such as Asian, Contemporary or Western Art.

The table below gives some valuable information about the education and skill requirements for becoming an art curator. Details about salary and career outlook are also included.



A Master’s degree is the most common requirement. Some positions may only need a Bachelor’s while certain jobs also demand a PhD degree.

Major Requirement

Art History; Fine Arts; Museum Studies; History; Archaeology

License / Certification

Not mandatory in most cases





Key Skills

Critical and Creative Thinking, Active Listening, Writing, Speaking, Inductive and Deductive Reasoning, Oral and Written Comprehension, Near Vision, Communication, Project Management Software, Photo Imaging and Graphics Software, Word Processing Software, Desktop Publishing Software, Database User Interface and Query Software.                                

Annual Mean Salary (2019)

$59,130 (Curators)

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

9% (Archivists, Curators and Museum Workers)


     Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online

Career Outlook for Art Curators

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9% increase in jobs for Archivists, Curators and Museum Workers from 2018 to 2028. This is much faster than the expected average increase for other occupations. So, the next few years are a good time to enter the field if you plan on becoming an art curator.

Your success in this sector is likely to depend on a number of things. The more qualified and experienced you are as an art connoisseur, the better your chances will be of landing higher-level positions. To give yourself the best chance of succeeding, you should try to work in places that have a large number of opportunities for art curators.

District of Columbia is the highest paying state for curators, with an annual mean wage of $80,760 in 2019. New York has the most jobs with 1,580 people working as curators. Second on the list is California with 1,320 curators who earned an annual mean salary of $69,720 in 2019.

Steps to Become an Art Curator

The following process will help you become an Art Curator in the US.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

Begin your quest to become an art curator by enrolling in a Bachelor’s degree in Art History, Fine Arts, Archaeology, Museum Studies or a related field. During your studies, you will learn about a wide range of styles and periods of art such as Italian and Baroque art, medieval art, Greek art, graphic design, art and gender, 19th and 20th century art, renaissance era art, etc. Moreover, courses on mathematics and business will also be important since art curators have to manage budgets and coordinate fundraising activities on a regular basis.     

Step 2: Go for Higher Studies

After getting your Bachelor’s degree, you should ideally go for a Master’s in the field. While an undergraduate degree is enough for many jobs, an increasing number of employers prefer to hire curators holding a postgraduate degree (Master’s and/or PhD) in art history. A Master’s or higher degree also enables students to specialize in specific areas like American art, medieval art, etc. 

Step 3: Seek Employment

Once you are done with postgraduate education in the arts, it is time to look for work. Entry-level art curator positions are commonly available in museums and local art councils/organizations. Learn on the job and gain experience to move ahead in your career.

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