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Exhibition Manager: Job Description & Career Requirements

Apr 14, 2019

An exhibition manager develops, plans, organizes, and manages events, which can include cultural and museum exhibits, conventions, and large-scale trade shows. Learn what types of degrees and professional skills are required to qualify for a position, as well as what to expect in terms of job growth and salary.

Career Definition for an Exhibition Manager

Exhibition management is a multi-faceted field that can include tasks related to budgeting, marketing, security, and site selection. Exhibition managers may also contract with service providers, develop event floor plans, and find overnight housing for participants. Operations and sales activities are also associated with this occupation. In the days leading up to an event, exhibition managers frequently put in long hours, many of which are on site.

Exhibition Manager Curator
Education Bachelor's degree in business administration, fine arts, or related fields Master's degree in museum studies
Job Skills Organization, communication Design, imagination
Median Salary (2019) $85,212 for trade show managers* $53,780**
Job Growth (2016-2026)** 11% for meeting, convention and event planners 14%

Source: *Salary.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A bachelor's degree or higher is required for a career in exhibition management, and fields of study may include those in business administration, design, fine arts, or information management. Aspiring curators may need a master's degree in museum studies. While it is possible to acquire a degree in exhibition management in Europe, that option is not yet available in the United States and may not be meaningful to stateside employers.

Skills Required

Exhibition managers are well organized and have excellent communication, math, and writing skills. Design abilities and a sense of imagination are also needed to create compelling exhibits, such as those related to art, trade, and flower shows. Interpersonal skills are key for those working for larger organizations, where they might need to assemble and manage a team of personnel.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide job outlook and salary figures specific to exhibition managers. However, the BLS does report that employment opportunities for curators nationwide are expected to grow by 14%, or faster than average, between 2016 and 2026. During the same 10-year period, meeting, convention, and event planners across the country will see an 11%, or faster than average, increase in jobs.

In May 2018, the median annual wage for museum curators was $53,780, while meeting, convention, and event planners earned $49,370. According to Salary.com, trade show managers earned median annual wages of $85,212 in April 2019.

Alternate Career Options

Here are a few other options in management and creative development:

Administrative Service Managers

Administrative services managers coordinate and oversee the support activities for a company or an organization. While responsibilities can vary according to the organization or position, they may include those associated with facilities planning, mail distribution, and recordkeeping. Minimum educational requirements include a high school diploma or its equivalent; individual employers may show a preference for applicants with a 4-year degree in business administration or management, engineering, or facilities management. As reported by the BLS, job prospects for administrative services managers nationwide are expected to increase by 10%, or faster than average, between 2016 and 2026. As of May 2018, those employed in administrative service management were paid median yearly salaries of $96,180.

Web Developers

Web developers oversee the content, design, and technical aspects of websites, which can include issues related to capacity, performance, and the overall visitor experience. In addition to an associate degree in Web design or a related field of study, requirements may include proficiency in graphic design and programming languages. In response to developments in e-commerce and the use of mobile apps, job opportunities for Web developers nationwide are projected to increase by 15% through 2026, or much faster than average, according to the BLS. Those who were working in the field in May 2018 earned median annual wages of $69,430.

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