If you wish to maintain and log historical documents, artifacts, dinosaur bones, and other valuable assets, then a museum technician may be the right career for you. Museum experience is strongly preferred, especially through lengthy internships and volunteering. A bachelor's degree is usually needed, but sometimes a different major, such as art history, with a concentration in museum studies will do.
Museum technicians provide support to curators, archivists and other museum staff members. A bachelor's degree is typically required for this profession, though some employers only require prior museum experience or training in museum preservation and display. Students can gain this experience by participating in internships or volunteering at museums.
|Required Education||Bachelor's typically required|
|Other Requirements||Work experience in a museum|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5% for museum technicians and conservators|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$40,340 annually for museum technicians and conservators|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Career Information for Museum Technicians
Many technicians participate in handling artifacts and documents, which includes cleaning items, notating repair needs and preparing items for storage. Some technicians specialize in creating different types of exhibits, such as purely visual or interactive displays.
Museum technicians can work in museums as well as zoos, aquariums, universities, or any other location that needs artifacts and documents preserved for future generations. Many location types have subcategories that museum technicians can specialize in, such as art history, natural history or special collections.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 5% job growth for conservators and museum technicians for the decade 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2015, the median annual wage for museum technicians and conservators was $40,340.
Requirements for Museum Technicians
Since each employer requires workers to possess different skills, technicians should choose the type of location they'd like to work in before enrolling in a degree or training program. The BLS reported that most employers prefer museum technicians to hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree, though some only require prior museum experience or training in museum preservation and display. Museum studies programs typically exist at the graduate level, but some schools offer the major to undergraduates. Other common, relevant majors, such as anthropology or art history, include minors or concentrations that teach students about museum studies and management.
Common courses related to museum studies include artifacts and collections, geographic cultures, museum research, and exhibition strategies. Students learn how to properly handle historical objects and assess each item for damages, odd characteristics or other potential problems. Students are also trained in different storage techniques, including storing high-maintenance items in airtight and temperature controlled environments. They learn how to display items for maximum visual appeal without sacrificing the safety of the item.
Although employers might train museum technicians for some site-specific tasks, many prefer technicians with prior museum experience. Academic minors or concentrations in museum studies frequently require students to participate in lengthy internships at local museums, often providing individuals with adequate experience to obtain an entry-level job.
Aspiring museum technicians can also apply for volunteer positions offered by many museums and historical organizations. Entry-level positions, such as tour guide, event steward or information desk operator, could provide workers with enough experience concerning the day-to-day operations of museums, zoos or aquariums to apply for a paid position as a museum technician.
For those who want to become museum technicians, a great deal of experience working in a museum, as well as a bachelor's degree or concentration in museum studies, is incumbent. Hands-on experience can be gained through internships and volunteer work, often a years-long commitment. This can also give you a chance to be employed in other places like aquariums and universities.