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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).

Also Known As

Museum Curator

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5112.2: Curators

2006 NOC-S

  • F012: Conservators and Curators

2011 NOC

  • 5112: Conservators and curators

2016 NOC

  • 5112: Conservators and curators

2021 NOC

  • 51101: Conservators and curators

2023 OaSIS

  • 51101.02: Curators
Updated Mar 02, 2021

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
  • Coordinate 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, coordinating 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 Mar 02, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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


Interest in overseeing the conservation, display and circulation of collections


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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 02, 2021

Curators need:

  • Natural curiosity and a passionate interest in art, natural history or human history
  • Creativity and flexibility
  • Communication skills (both oral and written)
  • Research and problem-solving skills
  • Respect for and ability to work with diverse populations
  • Strong organizational and project-management skills
  • Interpersonal, teamwork, facilitation, consultation and conflict-resolution skills

They should enjoy:

  • Supervising and coordinating the work of others
  • Being methodical and detailed
  • 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 Mar 02, 2021
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

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 the University of Quebec in Montreal offer master's degree programs in museum studies.
Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 02, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 02, 2021

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5112: Conservators and curators occupational group, 82.5% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5112: Conservators and curators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 02, 2021

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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Conservators and curators

2016 NOC: 5112
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5112 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $21.00 $41.29 $35.84 $38.67
Overall $22.26 $54.40 $45.40 $47.48
Top $23.38 $54.40 $46.30 $50.69

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Information, Culture, Recreation
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
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 Mar 02, 2021

Alberta Museums Association website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 02, 2021. 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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