So You Want to Be a Curator

So You Want to Be a Curator
A Bachelor’s degree is absolutely essential if you want to be a Curator. Majors vary, but usually include something like History, Art History, American Studies, and the like. A solid background in research and writing is very important.

There is a great deal of debate in the field right now about whether or not a Master’s degree is necessary. I believe that anything that will distinguish you from the pool of applicants is important. Right now, there are far more people seeking employment in the field than there are jobs to fill. So if all of the other applicants have an advanced degree, you better have one too!

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of internships and volunteer work. These days, it is tough to even get into a museum studies program if you haven’t had enough experience as an intern or volunteer. Some things just can’t be learned in a classroom. Most museum studies programs require students to do at least one internship.

If you are thinking of pursuing a career as a curator, contact your local museum and see if they have any projects you can help with. These jobs are usually unpaid, but the experience is invaluable, and it might lead to a job down the line – even if it is just a positive reference.

Seasonal attractions often hire summer help. See if the historic village or house museum near you has any openings for interpreters or even museum shop workers – anything to get your foot in the door.

If you're currently looking for a museum job, it helps if you are flexible in where you want to live. If you are willing to move, it opens up so many more possibilities!

Before you get in too deep, it is important to understand that you aren’t going to make a fortune in this business. The hours are seldom 9 to 5, and you are going to work HARD. But for me, at least, it is a true labor of love. I get up every morning and look forward to going to work. How many people can say that?


Do you know what a Curator does? If not, check out the companion article "What is a Curator?"

You Should Also Read:
Museum Employment Resources
Museum Studies Programs
What is a Curator?

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This content was written by Kim Kenney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kim Kenney for details.