Museum curator

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would create displays of historic objects, pieces of art and all sorts of other items to help people understand more about the past and different cultures.

You would make sure that the collections of objects of artistic, scientific, historical and general interest are looked after properly.

You’d find ways to display the collections so that visitors can enjoy them. The exhibitions will help visitors learn more about how people lived in the past, and its impact on how they live today.

You would:

  • Select, buy or borrow items
  • Organise records, catalogues and indexes, usually on computer
  • Make sure exhibits are stored in the right conditions
  • Arrange conservation and restoration
  • Set up displays and exhibitions
  • Help visitors to understand and enjoy exhibits and collections
  • Manage budgets
  • Organise publicity and fundraising
  • Liaise with staff in other museum
  • Give talks to groups
  • Supervise staff

In large museums you might specialise in one area. In a small general museum you would have wider responsibilities.

You’d need to be good at planning and organising. You’d need to be able to build strong relationships with other organisations and businesses so you can work together on projects.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually work around 37 hours a week on a rota, probably including some weekends. Part-time hours may be available.

Environment

Your working environment would depend on the type and size of the museum. As well as staff management and administration duties, you may need to do some lifting and carrying when changing over exhibits.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Persuading people
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Using computers
  • Researching and investigating
  • Being creative
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising
  • Paying attention to detail
  • Making decisions

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of museum or gallery.

You'll usually require a degree (SCQF Level 9/10) relevant to the collection you want to curate. Useful subjects include:

  • Museum or heritage studies
  • Archaeology
  • Ancient history
  • Classics
  • Art history
  • Natural sciences
  • Anthropology
  • Education

This field is very competitive. Some employers expect a postgraduate qualification (SCQF Level 11).

To enter a postgraduate qualification in museum and gallery studies or a similar subject requires a 2:1 honours degree and relevant experience.

Some larger museums offer a limited number of curator traineeships for graduates. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many employers and courses) 
  • Math (required by many employers and courses)
  • ICT
  • Business
  • Social subjects such as history
  • Languages

You will also need

As museum work is a competitive field, gaining experience through volunteering or an internship is essential. 

Most entrants start out as an assistant curator or keeper.