How Much Do Museum Curators Get Paid?

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How Much Do Museum Curators Get Paid?
Curators usually require a minimum of a master's degree. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Museum curators are concerned with the preservation and display of museum collections. They oversee the administration of a museum's holdings, authorising acquisitions and research. They also determine the nature of public presentations of objects within the collection. Curators usually report to a board of directors and are responsible for the hiring and management of museum staff. The salary for the role will vary depending on factors such as employer type and location.

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Average Pay

In May 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual salary for a curator working in the United States was £34,014. Calculated from pay information supplied by 10,410 individuals within the profession, the salary is equivalent to an hourly rate of £16.30 and a monthly income of £2,834. Curators within the top 10 per cent of earners received an average salary in excess of £54,535, while their counterparts in the lowest-earning 10 per cent received less than £17,550.

Pay by Industry

The bureau found that over half of curators surveyed worked for museums, historical sites and similar institutions. It reported that the average salary within this sector of the industry was £31,616. Museum curators may also find employment within academia -- colleges, universities and professional schools -- and various levels of government. Average salary within the academic sector was £37,713; within federal government agencies it was £52,175; while positions within state and local government agencies paid an average of £32,201 and £34,359, respectively.

Pay by Geography

A second important factor affecting a curator's pay is geographical location. Wage comparison website SalaryExpert surveyed average pay rates for the role in several major cities. It found that, across all industry sectors, New York, Boston and Chicago had the highest rates, averaging £40,740, £38,679 and £37,305, respectively. Miami was listed at £22,497. The Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the District of Columbia among top-paying locations, with average salaries of £50,316. California was listed at £39,578 and Maryland at £38,454. In contrast, curators in Montana had an average annual salary of £24,102.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for museum curators will rise by around 20 per cent over the years from 2008 to 2018, a faster growth rate than that estimated for the whole country, expected to be between 7 and 13 per cent. Demand will stem from increasing volumes of information requiring organisation and continued public interest in historical records. As such, salaries for curators should remain attractive. However, the bureau cautions that this is a very competitive field, with qualified candidates likely to outnumber available vacancies.

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