discussing how to become a curator

What you need to know

What is a curator?

Curators manage collections of artwork and historic items at museums and may facilitate activities within the museum.

What does a curator do?

The role of a curator might involve working with the public, and providing reference assistance and educational services. Some of their work might be seated at a desk or walking around the museum.

A typical day for a curator might include these duties:

  • Acquire, store, and exhibit collections
  • Select the theme and design of exhibits
  • Design, organize, and conduct tours and workshops for the public
  • Attend meetings and civic events to promote their institution
  • Clean objects such as ancient tools, coins, and statues
  • Direct and supervise curatorial, technical, and student staff
  • Plan and conduct special research projects

Watch this video to learn more about what our curator role models do:

What skills are needed?
  • Analytical skills: excellent analytical skills will help determine the origin, history, and importance of many of the objects they work with.
  • Customer service skills: they work with the general public on a regular basis. They must be courteous, friendly, and able to help users find materials.
  • Organizational skills: they store and easily retrieve records and documents. They must also develop logical systems of storage for the public to use.

Watch this video to learn more about what skills are needed to be a successful curator:

How much do curators make?

The average pay for curators in the United States was $57,120 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 4,700 new job openings for curator are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of curators is projected to grow 12 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Continued public interest in museums and other cultural centers should also lead to increased demand for curators and for the collections they manage.

How to become a curator

The first step is getting an education. Curators typically need a master’s degree and there are plenty of options if you choose to pursue this career.

Finding internships during your studies will help you succeed in this field as well. Students with internship experience may have an advantage in the competitive job market.

In small museums, curator positions may be available to applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Because curators have administrative and manager responsibilities, courses in business administration, public relations, marketing, and fundraising are recommended.

Watch this video to learn more about how to become a curator from our role models: