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Museum Teacher Job Description, Career as a Museum Teacher, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Bachelor’s degree

Average Salary $45,000 per year

Job Outlook Good

Basic Job Description

Museum directors and teachers are responsible for utilizing the resources available in a museum to create educational programs, exhibits and opportunities for visitors, school field trips and college students looking to get into the field. Most teachers spend their time coordinating events for grade school students of various ages who come to the museum, as well as creating activities for teachers to coordinate into their curriculum. Museum directors and teachers will also create educational guides, booklets and pamphlets for museum visitors to provide educational information about different exhibits and new attractions. Museum teachers will also host classes on specific museum attractions or programs for visitors who wish to gain more information on a topic in a classroom setting.

Education and Training Requirements

Museum teachers typically go to school for a Bachelor’s degree in art history, museum studies or a related field. Many also will advance their career by receiving a teaching certificate through their state, which qualifies them to work in actual classrooms or conduct class-like courses at the museum.

Museum directors and teachers often specialize in a specific type of history. If a student knows they want to work in an art museum, it is ideal that they concentrate their education on art history. A museum director who wants to work in an archaeological museum will focus their studies on archaeological sciences. Most directors have a minor or concentration in the field in which they want to work.

Many museums also require directors to have worked in each department of the museum before becoming qualified as a director or teacher. Others who have obtained their degree can work as an intern or apprentice under an experienced director. Once they have received this type of training, many directors will have the opportunity to work at the museum they’ve interned with as a full-time director. Others may branch off to work in a larger museum as they gain experience and advance their career.

Getting the Job

Getting a job as a museum director or teacher is similar to getting a job as a grade school teacher. They are trained to design classroom-style curriculum activities for visitors of all ages. Museum directors and teachers must be excellent at coordinating a classroom of kids to keep them interested in a project or topic and provide them with a fun, educational experience.

Directors and teachers who work in a specific type of museum, such as an archaeology or air and space museum, must be specialized and have educational concentrations in those fields. Occasionally, these teachers will start off working as general staff or interns in the museum, and eventually advance to getting the job and learning about the history through working in various departments in the museum. In most situations, a museum director or teacher will already be qualified to teach and have a degree in the field.

Museum teachers and directors also need excellent communication skills and will be comfortable working with many different ages and cultures of people throughout the day. Much of their job is spent conducting classes or hosting exhibits, so communication is an integral skill for anyone working in a museum.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Museum directors and teachers will usually start off coordinating events and scheduling programs for student field trips and other museum visitors. From there, they can branch off on their own to create events or run programs of their own through various museums. Some will work as teachers for several different museums if they are knowledgeable on various subjects.

After a museum director and teacher has worked and helped coordinate several programs, they can advance to creating entire exhibits that focus on specific time periods, art styles, archaeological dig findings, or historical time periods.

Outlook for jobs as museum directors or teachers is not expected to increase or decrease over the next several years. Many jobs are opening as more teachers reach retirement, as many of them are part of the baby boomer generation. More jobs may open up as they begin to retire and look to hand their role on to another director.

Working Conditions and Environment

Museum teachers and directors are almost always working inside the museum. They spend most of their time going through artifacts and putting them together to create educational programs or exhibits. Occasionally they will work outdoors if an exhibit or class would be best done in that way.

Teachers and directors must also be comfortable working with and leading large groups of people of all ages. They must be able to help handle a large group of young children as well as teach them about the exhibit. Many museums will attract tourists from different countries and cultures, so teachers and directors must be comfortable working with them and teaching them everything they want to know about an exhibit.

Many museum workers also work unusual hours such as evenings or weekends. Some classes may take place during these times, particularly for adults who want to participate in museum activities but work during the day. Museum workers may also work evenings and weekends to do research or planning for events if it is unable to be done during the day due to other activities. Their job is usually packed with activities and they are still constantly coordinating more.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a museum director or teacher is about $45,000 per year. Salaries vary greatly in this field, as someone who works for a small privately owned museum will make significantly less than someone who works as a teacher or director in a large museum like the Smithsonian. Some teachers and directors may find themselves making a six-figure income over time due to experience and level of expertise in their specific field.

Most directors and teachers also receive benefits packages including health insurance, sick leave and vacation time as a result of working many unusual or irregular hours.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of Museums
1575 Eye Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 289-1818

The Field Museum
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-9410

PO Box 37012
SI Building, Room 153, MRC 010
Washington, DC 20013
(202) 633-4300

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts