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Occupational Profile

Curator

Curators acquire, document, study, interpret, maintain and provide access to collections of artifacts (products of human hands), specimens (natural history items) or cultural heritage items or practices (traditional practices, crafts, language, dance).

  • Avg. Salary $70,079.00
  • Avg. Wage $35.82
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
Also Known As

Museum Curator

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

23%
23%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Curator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Curators
NOC code: 5112.2
DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting to recommend the acquisition of paintings, photographs, sculptures, documents and other museum and art gallery artifacts; and in supervising curatorial assistants and other museum technicians

METHODICAL

Interest in overseeing the conservation, display and circulation of collections

INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information to develop story lines and themes, and in organizing displays and exhibitions

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Duties and responsibilities vary considerably from one position to another but, in general, curators:

  • work closely with others to identify collections and themes of interest to the community
  • develop collections policies
  • ensure compliance with legislative requirements on a local, national and international level
  • plan, initiate and supervise research and development of collections by first studying the subject area(s) of the museum's collections, and then locating suitable objects in the community or through field work (for example, archaeological excavations) or through other museums, private collectors, artists, dealers and potential donors
  • plan, conduct and supervise an acquisitions program in which objects and their stories are selected or collected
  • develop and manage a collections management program that includes acquiring, researching, documenting, storing and cataloguing objects, specimens and evidence, and determining what will be maintained for display and storage
  • ensure acceptable environmental conditions are maintained for exhibits and storage, provide access to objects for research and study, and ensure collections are preserved (or delegate this work to conservators)
  • plan and assume a major role in organizing exhibitions by conducting research, determining themes, selecting materials and acting as consultants regarding the overall design (in some cases, this may involve establishing specifications criteria for reproductions, and overseeing their manufacture or selecting items from commercially available replica sources)
  • review, evaluate and select proposals for exhibits and programs
  • prepare catalogues, display labels, grant applications, articles, texts or scripts, reports (for example, for the board of directors) and promotional publications related to exhibitions and the museum's collections in general
  • participate in the development of programs and special events for visitors and students
  • promote knowledge and study of collections through lectures, tours, workshops, exhibitions, websites and media interviews
  • train, supervise and coordinate the work of interns, junior staff and volunteers.

In smaller facilities, curators also may:

  • be responsible for all collections
  • manage overall operations
  • deliver educational and public programs
  • serve as the registrar
  • co-ordinate special events
  • work with local media and governments
  • participate in fundraising activities.

In larger institutions, curators usually are responsible for specific collections or represent particular academic disciplines.

Some curators may specialize in arts and crafts, co-ordinating exhibitions, or producing publications, online content and other related activities. Others specialize in sciences such as paleontology or ethnography, but do not engage in the acquisition process.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Curators work in offices, storage areas and exhibition galleries, in the community at large, in labs and in the field (for example, at archaeological sites). Their hours of work vary and often include evenings and weekends. 

When conducting fieldwork, curators may live in tents or in local housing in remote locations, working long hours (sometimes alone) for extended periods of time. Fieldwork often is seasonal and some of the work can be physically demanding. Travel to other countries may be required.

When working in labs, curators may use materials containing toxic chemicals. They must follow safety precautions to avoid injury or illness. Curators may work with firearms in collections. They may also work on ladders or scaffolding and may be required to lift items that weigh up to 20 kilograms.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Curators need to possess:

  • natural curiosity and a passionate interest in art, natural history or human history
  • creativity and flexibility
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • excellent research and problem-solving skills
  • respect for and ability to work with diverse populations
  • strong organizational and project-management skills
  • good interpersonal, teamwork, facilitation, consultation and conflict-resolution skills.

They should enjoy advising others and co-ordinating others' work, taking a methodical, detailed approach to their work and finding innovative solutions to problems. They should be able to listen non-judgmentally and deal with sensitive situations or issues that require high standards of integrity. Those who work in smaller facilities should enjoy variety and multitasking.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

There is no standard education requirement for curators in Alberta but most facilities prefer to hire job applicants who have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field of study. Medium and larger institutions generally prefer to hire applicants who have a master's or doctoral degree in a field such as museum studies, history, archeology, fine arts, art history, anthropology, botany, zoology or geology. Since this field is small and competitive, graduate work at the doctoral level is often required for employment in senior positions in large museums or universities.

Prospective curators are strongly advised to discuss their education options with practising curators before enrolling in an education program.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

University of Victoria - Victoria

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Outside of Alberta, the following schools offer programs specifically related to curatorship:

  • Algonquin College in Ottawa offers a 3-year Applied Museum Studies diploma program.
  • Fleming College in Peterborough offers a 4-semester Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management graduate certificate program and a 3-semester Museum Management and Curatorship post-diploma program.
  • The University of Victoria Division of Continuing Studies offers a post-graduate Cultural Resource Management diploma with specializations in museum studies, heritage conservation and cultural management. Many courses are offered through distance education as well as on campus.
  • The University of Toronto, the University of Montreal and theUniversity of Quebec in Montreal offer master's degree programs in museum studies.
Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Curators work in public and private museums, historic sites, universities, art galleries, zoos, botanical gardens and other related facilities. They may be employees or work as private contractors.

There are over 250 museums, historic sites, art galleries and zoos in Alberta. Some are seasonal; others are open year round. In medium and large facilities, curators usually start in junior positions and advance to more senior positions. When applying for a junior position, related volunteer or paid work experience and courses in museum studies are definite assets.

Curators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5112: Conservators and Curators. In Alberta, 77% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Salaries vary depending on the nature of the organization (for example, government or not-for-profit society), the size of the facility, the responsibilities of the position and the qualifications of the curator.

Conservators and curators
NOC code: 5112

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.50 $37.49 $30.90 $34.96
Overall $11.78 $49.15 $35.82 $39.25
Top $14.71 $49.15 $39.58 $45.82

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

23%
23%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

N/A

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

15%
15%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Chemistry
  • Social Studies
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Communication Technology
    • Design Studies
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Humanities and Languages
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Alberta Museums Association website: www.museums.ab.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Dec 19, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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