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What Does it Take to Be a Curator?

Occupation Description Administer collections, such as artwork, collectibles, historic items, or scientific specimens of museums or other institutions. May conduct instructional, research, or public service activities of institution.

What Do Curators Do On a Daily Basis?

  • Attend meetings, conventions, and civic events to promote use of institution’s services, to seek financing, and to maintain community alliances.
  • Inspect premises to assess the need for repairs and to ensure that climate and pest control issues are addressed.
  • Negotiate and authorize purchase, sale, exchange, or loan of collections.
  • Design, organize, or conduct tours, workshops, and instructional or educational sessions to acquaint individuals with an institution’s facilities and materials.
  • Develop and maintain an institution’s registration, cataloging, and basic record-keeping systems, using computer databases.
  • Confer with the board of directors to formulate and interpret policies, to determine budget requirements, and to plan overall operations.

Qualities of a Curator

Curators state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Types of Curator

  • Collections and Archives Director
  • Old Coin Dealer
  • Art Gallery Director
  • Photography and Prints Curator
  • Philatelist

Are There Job Opportunities for Curators?

There were about 12,400 jobs for Curator in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 13.7% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 1,700 new jobs for Curator by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 1,500 job openings in this field each year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Curators in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Curator are Colorado, Washington, and Nevada. Watch out if you plan on working in Mississippi, Maine, or Idaho. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Curator

The salary for Curators ranges between about $29,010 and $94,330 a year.

Salary Ranges for Curators

Curators who work in District of Columbia, Connecticut, or New York, make the highest salaries.

How much do Curators make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $54,900
Alaska $66,070
Arizona $57,280
Arkansas $50,920
California $67,650
Colorado $62,090
Connecticut $67,430
Delaware $58,740
District of Columbia $86,080
Florida $46,570
Georgia $46,380
Hawaii $58,550
Idaho $34,580
Illinois $56,420
Indiana $45,560
Iowa $45,900
Kansas $50,630
Kentucky $51,230
Louisiana $42,190
Maine $52,270
Maryland $62,370
Massachusetts $68,240
Michigan $50,530
Minnesota $55,740
Mississippi $44,240
Missouri $62,240
Montana $42,700
Nebraska $46,740
Nevada $56,580
New Hampshire $49,630
New Jersey $75,750
New Mexico $52,880
New York $73,850
North Carolina $47,200
North Dakota $49,160
Ohio $57,220
Oklahoma $46,840
Oregon $49,850
Pennsylvania $53,840
Rhode Island $63,030
South Carolina $49,380
South Dakota $50,100
Tennessee $49,920
Texas $57,150
Utah $48,320
Vermont $58,840
Virginia $63,140
Washington $65,790
Wisconsin $50,610
Wyoming $44,750

What Tools do Curators Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Curators may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • FileMaker Pro
  • Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign
  • Scheduling software
  • Graphics software
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Desktop publishing software
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Freehand
  • Microsoft Paint
  • PastPerfect Software PastPerfect
  • Questor Systems ARGUS

How to Become a Curator

Education needed to be a Curator:

Curator Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Curator Work Experience

Who Employs Curators?

Curator Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Curator Industries

Those thinking about becoming a Curator might also be interested in the following careers:

Career changers with experience as a Curator sometimes find work in one of the following fields:

References:

Image Credit: Jorge Royan via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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