Museum designers help to create the visual representations and layouts of individual exhibits. They oversee how content will be laid out to best convey the information in an exhibit. As part of their jobs, museum designers may perform research to select materials for displays. They also might utilize thematically appropriate visual effects for exhibits.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; master's degree recommended|
|Degree Field||Art history,anthropology, public history, museum studies, or similar field|
|Key Skills||Creativity, organizational skills, detail-oriented, CAD software experience helpful|
|Experience||Internships available at museums|
|Mean Salary (2015)||$54,920 (for set and exhibit designers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Museum designers should be creative, detail-oriented and organized. They typically have at least a bachelor's degree in art history or a related area. Many professionals hold a master's degree. As of May 2015, exhibit and set designers in general earned an average annual salary of $54,920. Let's go through some of the steps involved in becoming a museum designer.
Step 1: 4-Year Degree
Museum designers can start preparing for their careers by completing a 4-year degree program in anthropology, art history or design. Through their studies, students can learn about the essential design principles that can help them create interesting and eye-catching exhibits. They also might explore the historical relevance of artists, periods and pieces relevant to exhibits they might be expected to design.
Step 2: Master's Degree
Many museum designers hold a master's degree in anthropology, public history, museum studies or a similar field. These programs can provide individuals with the opportunity to broaden their knowledge bases, further develop their practical skill sets and demonstrate their abilities through a written thesis or thesis project.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- American History
- Ancient Studies
- Asian History
- Classical Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies
- Cultural Resource Management
- European History
- Historic Preservation
- History of Science and Technology
- Holocaust Studies
- Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Museum Studies
- Public History and Archival Administration
Step 3: Internship
Internship opportunities might be available or required in undergraduate or graduate programs and can help a candidate's resume stand out during the employment process. These experiences provide individuals with hands-on experience, which could help them master their drawing and design skills and learn to work with computer-aided design (CAD) software to create storyboards for displays.
Volunteering with a department in a museum also could provide aspiring designers with an understanding of how museums function. Both internships and volunteer opportunities can help future museum designers develop connections that could lead to future employment.
Step 4: Entry-Level Work
The job of a museum designer is a mid-level role, so candidates for employment often need professional work experience before they'll be considered for a position. Seeking entry-level employment at a museum is one way to train for a job as a designer. One entry-level position that new graduates might pursue is that of junior designer. These professionals assist museum designers with organizing exhibits while learning about what they do on an everyday basis.
Remember, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in anthropology, art history or design, or even a master's degree in a similar field, and some entry-level experience to start a career as a museum designer. As of May 2015, exhibit and set designers overall earned an average of $54,920 a year.