June 16, 2010
A museum hires workers in a variety of occupations to help share its treasures with the public. Museum work can be grouped into three broad categories: collections management and care, exhibit design, and education.
Workers who manage and care for a museum's collections are experts on handling items to minimize damage, and they understand how temperature, light, humidity and other factors can harm these objects. These workers ensure that their museum's collections are preserved and shared with the public in a meaningful way. Some of these workers include archivists, collections managers and registrars, conservators, curators, and preparators.
A team of workers is usually involved in creating a museum exhibit. Exhibits today frequently incorporate interactive media and other technologies, such as touch-screen kiosks or audio tours, to help visitors have a more dynamic experience. Among the workers who create these interactive media are computer software engineers, scriptwriters, and audiovisual staff. Other workers perform tasks such as determining the desired contents of an exhibit or writing text about an exhibit’s displays.
Education-related museum jobs have become increasingly prominent in recent decades, as museums place greater emphasis on informal or experiential learning. Today, most museums employ at least one person who is responsible for its educational programs and objectives; some museums dedicate an entire department to education.
See "Museum work: Put your skills on exhibit" in the Summer 2010 edition of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly to learn more. Earnings data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program. Note that the article contains OES data for 2008, which were the latest available as it was being prepared.