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Career profile Curator

Also known as Collections Curator, Collections Manager, Curator, Education Curator, Exhibitions Curator, Exhibits Curator, Museum Curator, Photography Curator, Vertebrate Zoology Curator

Curator

Also known as Collections Curator, Collections Manager, Curator

Interests Profile
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$33,370 - $96,820 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • History and Archeology
  • Fine Arts
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Plan and organize the acquisition, storage, and exhibition of collections and related materials, including the selection of exhibition themes and designs, and develop or install exhibit materials.
  • Develop and maintain an institution's registration, cataloging, and basic record-keeping systems, using computer databases.
  • Plan and conduct special research projects in area of interest or expertise.
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What does a Curator do?

Curators administer collections, such as artwork, collectibles, historic items, or scientific specimens of museums or other institutions.

In addition, Curators may conduct instructional, research, or public service activities of institution.

What kind of tasks does a Curator perform regularly?

Curators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Plan and organize the acquisition, storage, and exhibition of collections and related materials, including the selection of exhibition themes and designs, and develop or install exhibit materials.
  • Develop and maintain an institution's registration, cataloging, and basic record-keeping systems, using computer databases.
  • Plan and conduct special research projects in area of interest or expertise.
  • Provide information from the institution's holdings to other curators and to the public.
  • Negotiate and authorize purchase, sale, exchange, or loan of collections.
  • Study, examine, and test acquisitions to authenticate their origin, composition, history, and to assess their current value.
  • Inspect premises to assess the need for repairs and to ensure that climate and pest control issues are addressed.
  • Write and review grant proposals, journal articles, institutional reports, and publicity materials.
  • Design, organize, or conduct tours, workshops, and instructional or educational sessions to acquaint individuals with an institution's facilities and materials.
  • Attend meetings, conventions, and civic events to promote use of institution's services, to seek financing, and to maintain community alliances.
  • Train and supervise curatorial, fiscal, technical, research, and clerical staff, as well as volunteers or interns.
  • Confer with the board of directors to formulate and interpret policies, to determine budget requirements, and to plan overall operations.

The above responsibilities are specific to Curators. More generally, Curators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Thinking Creatively
Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

What is a Curator salary?

The median salary for a Curator is $56,990, and the average salary is $61,650. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Curator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Curators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Curators earn less than $33,370 per year, 25% earn less than $43,420, 75% earn less than $76,330, and 90% earn less than $96,820.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Curators is expected to change by 21.6%, and there should be roughly 1,900 open positions for Curators every year.

Median annual salary
$56,990
Typical salary range
$33,370 - $96,820
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
21.6%

What personality traits are common among Curators?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Curator are usually higher in their Enterprising, Conventional, and Investigative interests.

Curators typically have very strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Also, Curators typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Lastly, Curators typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Curators typically have moderate Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Curator tend to value Independence, Achievement, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Curators very strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Curators strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Curators strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Curators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as initiative, attention to detail, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Curators, ranked by importance:

Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Leadership
Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

What education and training do Curators need?

Many Curators have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Curators may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Curators

  • 1.6% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 6.1% completed high school or secondary school
  • 9.1% completed some college coursework
  • 4.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 36.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 36.3% earned a Master's degree
  • 6.8% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Curators

Curators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as history and archeology, fine arts, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Curators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

History and Archeology
Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
Fine Arts
Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

Important Abilities needed by Curators

Curators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Curators need abilities such as oral comprehension, written comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Curators, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Curators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Curators frequently use skills like reading comprehension, speaking, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Curators, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
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.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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