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Average Salary
$41,514
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
9%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
11,497
Job Openings

Museum Technician Careers

What Does a Museum Technician Do

Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curators oversee collections of artwork and historic items, and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits.

Duties

Archivists typically do the following:

  • Authenticate and appraise historical documents and archival materials
  • Preserve and maintain documents and objects
  • Create and manage system to maintain and preserve electronic records
  • Organize and classify archival records to make them easy to search through
  • Safeguard records by creating film and digital copies
  • Direct workers who help arrange, exhibit, and maintain collections
  • Set and administer policy guidelines concerning public access to materials
  • Provide help to users
  • 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 documents and records for their importance or historical significance. They coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, workshops, lectures, and classes. They also may work with researchers on topics and items relevant to their collections.

Some archivists specialize in an era of history so they can have a better understanding of the records from that period.

Archivists typically work with specific forms of records, such as manuscripts, electronic records, websites, photographs, maps, motion pictures, and sound recordings.

Curators, also known as museum directors, direct the acquisition, storage, and exhibition of collections, including negotiating and authorizing the purchase, sale, exchange, and loan of collections. They may authenticate, evaluate, and categorize the specimens in a collection.

Curators often oversee and help conduct their institution’s research projects and related educational programs. They may represent their institution in the media, at public events, at conventions, and at professional conferences.

Some curators who work in large institutions 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, insects, and mammals.

Some curators focus primarily on taking care of their collections, others on researching items in their collections, and still others spend most of their time performing administrative tasks. In small institutions with only one or a few curators, one curator may be responsible for a number of tasks, from taking care of collections to directing the affairs of the museum.

Museum technicians, commonly known as registrars or collections specialists, concentrate on the care and safeguarding of the objects in museum collections and exhibitions. They 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.

Museum technicians 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 works of art, artifacts, and specimens—work that may require substantial historical, scientific, and archeological research. They document their findings and treat items to minimize deterioration or to restore them to their original state. Conservators usually specialize in a particular material or group of objects, such as documents and books, paintings, decorative arts, textiles, metals, or architectural material.

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.

How To Become a Museum Technician

Most archivist, curator, and conservator positions require a master’s degree related to the position’s field. Museum technicians must have a bachelor’s degree. People often gain experience through an internship or by volunteering in archives and museums.

Education

Archivists. Archivists typically need a master’s degree in history, library science, archival science, political science, or public administration. Although many colleges and universities have history, library science, or other similar programs, only a few institutions offer master’s degrees in archival studies. 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. 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 they also may have administrative and managerial responsibilities, courses in business administration, public relations, marketing, and fundraising are recommended.

Museum technicians. Museum technicians, commonly known as registrars, typically need a bachelor’s degree. Because few schools offer a bachelor’s degree in museum studies, it is common for registrars to obtain an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as art history, history, or archaeology. Some jobs may require candidates to have a master’s degree in museum studies. Museums may prefer candidates with knowledge of the museum’s specialty, training in museum studies, or previous experience working in museums.

Conservators. Conservators typically need a master’s degree in conservation or in a closely related field. Graduate programs last 2 to 4 years, the latter years of which include internship training. Only a few graduate programs in museum conservation techniques are offered in the United States. To qualify for entry into these programs, a student must have a background in chemistry, archaeology, studio art, or art history. Completing a conservation internship as an undergraduate can enhance admission prospects.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

At this time, only a few employers require or prefer certification for archivists. However, 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 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.

Other Experience

To gain marketable experience, candidates may have to work part time, as an intern or as a volunteer, during or after completing their education. Substantial experience in collection management, research, exhibit design, or restoration, as well as database management skills, is necessary for full-time positions.

Advancement

Continuing education is available through meetings, conferences, and workshops sponsored by archival, historical, and museum associations. Some large organizations, such as the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, offer in-house training.

Top museum positions are highly sought after and are competitive. Performing unique research and producing published work are important for advancement in large institutions. In addition, a doctoral degree may be needed for some advanced positions.

Museum workers employed in small institutions may have limited opportunities for promotion. They typically advance by transferring to a larger institution that has supervisory positions.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators need excellent analytical skills to determine the origin, history, and importance of many of the objects they work with.

Computer skills. Archivists and museum technicians should have good computer skills because they use and develop complex databases related to the materials they store and access. 

Customer-service skills. Archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators work with the general public on a regular basis. They must be courteous and friendly and be able to help users find materials.

Organizational skills. Archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators must be able to store and easily retrieve records and documents. They must also develop logical systems of storage for the public to use.

Technical skills. Many historical objects need to be analyzed and preserved. Conservators must use the appropriate chemicals and techniques to preserve different objects, such as documents, paintings, fabrics, and pottery.

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Average Salary
$41,514
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
9%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
11,497
Job Openings

Museum Technician Career Paths

Top Careers Before Museum Technician

Volunteer
10.5 %

Top Careers After Museum Technician

Volunteer
10.4 %

Museum Technician Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a Museum Technician

Museum Technicians in America make an average salary of $41,514 per year or $20 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $64,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $26,000 per year.
Average Salary
$41,514
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Washington, DC
Salary Range41k - 73k$55k$54,902
New York, NY
Salary Range38k - 70k$52k$52,264
Boston, MA
Salary Range36k - 66k$49k$49,279
Philadelphia, PA
Salary Range33k - 61k$46k$45,781
Suitland, MD
Salary Range33k - 59k$45k$44,598
$33k
$73k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Museum Technician 3
Museum Technician 3
State of Illinois
State of Illinois
11/06/2020
11/06/2020
$52,33211/06/2020
$52,332
Museum Technician II
Museum Technician II
State of North Carolina
State of North Carolina
03/06/2020
03/06/2020
$32,70303/06/2020
$32,703
Museum Technician and Conservator
Museum Technician and Conservator
Perfume Passage Foundation
Perfume Passage Foundation
01/21/2020
01/21/2020
$40,00001/21/2020
$40,000
Museum Technician
Museum Technician
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
12/27/2019
12/27/2019
$28,78012/27/2019
$28,780
Museum Technician
Museum Technician
City of Colorado Springs
City of Colorado Springs
12/10/2019
12/10/2019
$25,04412/10/2019
$25,044
See More Recent Salaries

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Museum Technician Demographics

Gender

female

54.5 %

male

39.5 %

unknown

6.0 %

Ethnicity

White

77.8 %

Hispanic or Latino

9.3 %

Asian

5.2 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

32.3 %

French

22.6 %

German

9.7 %
See More Demographics

Museum Technician Education

Majors

History
21.5 %
Fine Arts
18.4 %

Degrees

Bachelors

68.8 %

Masters

17.2 %

Certificate

5.4 %

Top Colleges for Museum Technicians

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

3. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

4. Brown University

Providence, RI • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,466
Enrollment
6,752

5. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

6. Tufts University

Medford, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,382
Enrollment
5,597

7. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

8. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

9. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

10. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Museum Technician That You May Like

Interdisciplinary Teaching with Museum Objects
edX (Global)

Teachers, don't miss this special opportunity to learn with four Smithsonian museums from home! Register for this 14-week course and join an online community of educators for an immersive exploration of teaching with museum objects and works of art. Museum educators will explore connections among their collections and model teaching strategies that participants can implement with their students, whether online or in the classroom. Participants will discover how to teach with museum resources to...

Art & Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies For Your Classroom
coursera

Explore how to integrate works of art into your classroom with inquiry-based teaching methods originally developed for in-gallery museum education...

Survey Data Collection and Analytics
coursera

This specialization covers the fundamentals of surveys as used in market research, evaluation research, social science and political research, official government statistics, and many other topic domains. In six courses, you will learn the basics of questionnaire design, data collection methods, sampling design, dealing with missing values, making estimates, combining data from different sources, and the analysis of survey data. In the final Capstone Project, you'll apply the skills learned thro...

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Top Skills For a Museum Technician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 14.0% of museum technicians listed storage areas on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and computer skills are important as well.

Best States For a Museum Technician

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a museum technician. The best states for people in this position are Illinois, Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Hampshire. Museum technicians make the most in Illinois with an average salary of $69,499. Whereas in Rhode Island and Delaware, they would average $60,370 and $57,757, respectively. While museum technicians would only make an average of $56,090 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Illinois

Total Museum Technician Jobs:
722
Highest 10% Earn:
$115,000
Location Quotient:
1.21
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Alaska

Total Museum Technician Jobs:
83
Highest 10% Earn:
$77,000
Location Quotient:
1.99
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Delaware

Total Museum Technician Jobs:
74
Highest 10% Earn:
$99,000
Location Quotient:
1.18
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Museum Technician Employers

1. National Park Service
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$51,557
Museum Technicians Hired: 
30+
2. Smithsonian Institution Offices
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$67,553
Museum Technicians Hired: 
17+
3. MesaVerde
2.9
Avg. Salary: 
$48,684
Museum Technicians Hired: 
3+
4. United States Army
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$39,369
Museum Technicians Hired: 
3+
5. Andrea Rosen Gallery
3.4
Avg. Salary: 
$69,042
Museum Technicians Hired: 
3+
6. National American University
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$31,142
Museum Technicians Hired: 
2+
Updated October 2, 2020