Income and benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for curators in the United States was $54,570 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,330 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $87,760. Educational services was the top paying industry, with a median annual wage of $55,460. This was followed b the government ($50,840) and then museums, historical sites and similar institutions ($46,550).
Autonomy and Flexibility
Right from the get go, curators have a lot of autonomy. They are responsible for making decisions regarding the museums budget, the sourcing of objects and the display of objects. Often, curators are also in charge of museum staff and have control over staffing decisions.
However, the autonomy of a curator is variable depending on whether they work for small or large institutions. For example, those who work for small institutions are likely to have more control over their decisions. Whereas those who work for larger institutions are likely to work as part of a team and will have to make group decisions.
Locations and commute
According to Zippia, the best states to be a curator, based on number of jobs available and average annual salary, are:
- Rhode Island, where the average annual salary was $58,272
- Washington, where the average annual salary was $65,562
- Connecticut, where the average annual salary was $57,910
- Alaska, where the average annual salary was $72,911
- District of Columbia, where the average annual salary was $59,794
According to Zippia, the worst states to be a museum curator are Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina.
The largest employers of curators in the United States was museums, historical sites and similar institutions, which employed 40% of all curators. 19% of curators are employed by the government and 17% by educational services.
The exact work environment of a curator will vary depending on the size of the institution they work for. Curators may spend a lot of time at their desk, where they are sourcing objects and discussing budgets. Or, they may spend a lot of their time with the public, where they can provide educational services and assistant.