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Curator

Curators plan and oversee the arrangement, cataloging, and exhibition of collections. They acquire and preserve important documents and other valuable items for permanent storage or display. They also describe, catalog, and analyze, valuable objects for the benefit of researchers and the public.

Hours: Employment as an archivist, conservator, or curator usually requires graduate education and related work experience. Museum technicians often start work with a bachelor's degree. While completing their formal education, many archivists and curators work in archives or museums to gain “hands-on” experience.

Opportunities: Archivists, curators, and museum technicians held about 27,000 jobs in 2006. About 38 percent were employed in museums, historical sites, and similar institutions, and 18 percent worked for State and private educational institutions, mainly college and university libraries. Nearly 31 percent worked in Federal, State, and local government, excluding educational institutions. Most Federal archivists work for the National Archives and Records Administration; others manage military archives in the U.S. Department of Defense. Most Federal Government curators work at the Smithsonian Institution, in the military museums of the Department of Defense, and in archaeological and other museums and historic sites managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. All State governments have archival or historical record sections employing archivists. State and local governments also have numerous historical museums, parks, libraries, and zoos employing curators.

Pay: Median annual earnings of archivists in May 2006 were $40,730. The middle 50 percent earned between $30,610 and $53,990. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,890, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,060. Median annual earnings of curators in May 2006 were $46,300. The middle 50 percent earned between $34,410 and $61,740. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,320, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,030. Median annual earnings of museum technicians and conservators in May 2006 were $34,340. The middle 50 percent earned between $26,360 and $46,120. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,600, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,270.

Training: The working conditions of archivists and curators vary. Some spend most of their time working with the public, providing reference assistance and educational services. Others perform research or process records, which often means working alone or in offices with only a few people. Those who restore and install exhibits or work with bulky, heavy record containers may lift objects, climb, or stretch. Those in zoos, botanical gardens, and other outdoor museums and historic sites frequently walk great distances. Conservators work in conservation laboratories. The size of the objects in the collection they are working with determines the amount of effort involved in lifting, reaching, and moving objects.

Curators who work in large institutions may travel extensively to evaluate potential additions to the collection, organize exhibitions, and conduct research in their area of expertise. However, travel is rare for curators employed in small institutions.

Citation: Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos065.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).

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