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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.
Undergraduate program resulting in the highest median salary ($88K): Physical Fitness, Parks, Recreation, and Leisure
Largest undergraduate program (15.9% of workers): History
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Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

Archivists typically do the following:

  • Authenticate and appraise historical documents and archival materials
  • Preserve and maintain documents and objects
  • Create and manage a system to maintain and preserve electronic records
  • Organize and classify archival materials
  • Safeguard records by creating film and digital copies
  • Direct workers to help arrange, exhibit, and maintain collections
  • Set and administer policy guidelines concerning public access to materials
  • Find and acquire new materials for their archives

Curators, museum technicians, and conservators typically do the following:

  • 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

Archivists preserve important or historically significant documents and records. They coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, lectures, and classes. They also may work with researchers on topics and items relevant to their collections.

Some archivists specialize in a particular era of history so that they can have a better understanding of the records from that period. Archivists typically work with specific forms of documentation, such as manuscripts, electronic records, websites, photographs, maps, motion pictures, or sound recordings.

Curators, who also may be museum directors, lead the acquisition, storage, and exhibition of collections. They negotiate and authorize the purchase, sale, exchange, and loan of collections. They also may research, authenticate, evaluate, and categorize the items in a collection.

Curators often perform administrative tasks and help manage their institution’s research projects and related educational programs. They may represent their institution in the media, at public events, and at professional conferences.

In large institutions, some curators may specialize in a particular field, such as botany, art, or history. For example, a large natural history museum might employ separate curators for its collections of birds, fish, and mammals.

In small institutions, one curator may be responsible for many tasks, from taking care of collections to directing the affairs of the museum.

Museum technicians, who may be known as preparators, registrars, or collections specialists, care for and safeguard objects in museum collections and exhibitions.

Preparators focus on readying items in museum collections for display or storage. For example, they might make frames and mats for artwork or fit mounts to support objects. They also help to create exhibits, such as by building exhibit cases, installing items, and ensuring proper lighting. And they transport items and prepare them for shipping.

Registrars and collections specialists oversee the logistics of acquisitions, insurance policies, risk management, and loaning of objects to and from the museum for exhibition or research. They keep detailed records of the conditions and locations of the objects that are on display, in storage, or being transported to another museum. They also maintain and store any documentation associated with the objects.

These workers also may answer questions from the public and help curators and outside scholars use the museum’s collections.

Conservators handle, preserve, treat, and keep records of artifacts, specimens, and works of art. They may perform substantial historical, scientific, and archeological research. They document their findings and treat items in order to minimize deterioration or restore them to their original state. Conservators usually specialize in a particular material or group of objects, such as documents and books, paintings, or textiles.

Some conservators use x rays, chemical testing, microscopes, special lights, and other laboratory equipment and techniques to examine objects, determine their condition, and decide on the best way to preserve them. They also may participate in outreach programs, research topics in their specialty, and write articles for scholarly journals.

Median salary: $56,990 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $43,420 and $76,330.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for archivists, curators, and museum technicians
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Curators
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of curators who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (35%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Curators? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Analytical skills
Archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators must explore minutiae to determine the origin, history, and importance of the objects they work with.
Customer-service skills
Archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators work regularly with the general public. They must be courteous, friendly, and able to help users find materials.
Detail oriented
Archivists and museum technicians must be able to focus on specifics because they use and develop complex databases related to the materials they store and access.
Organizational skills
Archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators store and easily retrieve records and documents. They must also develop logical systems of storage for the public to use.
Injury and Illness
About 21 curators become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 54% of other careers.
All injuries and illnesses
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by curators
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), curators typically hold a master's degree.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as archivists, curators, and museum technicians as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for curators

Archivists. Archivists typically need a master’s degree in history, library science, archival studies, political science, or public administration. Students may gain valuable archiving experience through volunteer or internship opportunities.

Curators. Curators typically need a master’s degree in art history, history, archaeology, or museum studies. In small museums, curator positions may be available to applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Because curators have administrative and managerial responsibilities, courses in business administration, public relations, marketing, and fundraising are recommended.

Museum technicians. Museum technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in museum studies or a related field, such as archaeology, art history, or history. Some jobs require candidates to have a master’s degree in museum studies. In addition, museum employers may prefer candidates who have knowledge of the museum’s specialty or have experience working in museums.

Conservators. Conservators typically need a master’s degree in conservation or a related field. Graduate programs last 2 to 4 years, the latter part of which includes an internship. To qualify for entry into these programs, a student must have a background in archaeology, art history, chemistry, or studio art. Completing a conservation internship as an undergraduate may enhance an applicant’s prospects into a graduate program.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for curators

Although most employers do not require certification, some archivists may choose to earn voluntary certification because it allows them to demonstrate expertise in a particular area.

The Academy of Certified Archivists offers the Certified Archivist credential. To earn certification, candidates usually must have a master’s degree, have professional archival experience, and pass an exam. They must renew their certification periodically by retaking the exam or fulfilling continuing education credits.

Education level of Archivists, curators, and museum technicians
About 50% of archivists, curators, and museum technicians have a graduate-level education, and 82% have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by archivists, curators, and museum technicians
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 81% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
  1. History
  2. Art History
  3. Visual and Performing Arts
  4. Anthropology and Archeology
  5. English Language and Literature
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College majors held by archivists, curators, and museum technicians
This table shows the college majors held by people working as archivists, curators, and museum technicians. If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!
Salary comparison for bachelor's only
Career salary (tail) versus Career/Major salary (dot)
Does the bachelor's-only salary rise or fall with this major?
Salary for bachelor's-only
For people with this career and major
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Salary for all workers
For people with this career and major
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education for Career and Major
Workers with this career/major
Percentage in this career with this major
Not so much?
The link between degrees and this career
With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as archivists, curators, and museum technicians, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.
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HistoryArt History and Crit...Fine ArtsAnthropology and Arc...English Language and...BiologyBusiness Management ...Studio ArtsPsychologyPhysical Fitness, Pa...All other degreesThis jobTop 10 majors
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
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Number of Archivists, curators, and museum technicians per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most curators? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as curators. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where curators earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for archivists, curators, and museum technicians compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for archivists, curators, and museum technicians.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which archivists, curators, and museum technicians earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Archivists, curators, and museum technicians (ACS for all specialties)
24% of Archivists, curators, and museum technicians are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 24% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 76% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of archivists, curators, and museum technicians by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$51K$51K$49K$54K$47K$62K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Archivists, curators, and museum technicians and gender
With 61% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 73% of careers.
Gender of Archivists, curators, and museum technicians
Men (39%)
Women (61%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for archivists, curators, and museum technicians, with the median salary for men 13% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Archivists, curators, and museum technicians
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Archivists, curators, and museum technicians.
Race/origin of archivists, curators, and museum technicians
White (88% )
Black (4% )
Asian (4% )
Multiracial (2% )
Other (2% )
American Indian (1% )
Hispanic (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.