Mapping Your Future logo

Career Profile: Museum Technicians and Conservators

Restore, maintain, or prepare objects in museum collections for storage, research, or exhibit. May work with specimens such as fossils, skeletal parts, or botanicals; or artifacts, textiles, or art. May identify and record objects or install and arrange them in exhibits. Includes book or document conservators.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 13,500 people employed as museum technicians and conservators in the United States. The median annual salary is $45,700. Entry level employees earn approximately $27,730 per year and senior employees earn approximately $79,590 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Deliver artwork on courier trips.
  • Build, repair, and install wooden steps, scaffolds, and walkways to gain access to or permit improved view of exhibited equipment.
  • Estimate cost of restoration work.
  • Study object documentation or conduct standard chemical and physical tests to ascertain the object's age, composition, original appearance, need for treatment or restoration, and appropriate preservation method.
  • Prepare reports on the operation of conservation laboratories, documenting the condition of artifacts, treatment options, and the methods of preservation and repair used.
  • Specialize in particular materials or types of object, such as documents and books, paintings, decorative arts, textiles, metals, or architectural materials.
  • Perform tests and examinations to establish storage and conservation requirements, policies, and procedures.
  • Direct and supervise curatorial, technical, and student staff in the handling, mounting, care, and storage of art objects.
  • Construct skeletal mounts of fossils, replicas of archaeological artifacts, or duplicate specimens, using a variety of materials and hand tools.
  • Coordinate exhibit installations, assisting with design, constructing displays, dioramas, display cases, and models, and ensuring the availability of necessary materials.
  • Preserve or direct preservation of objects, using plaster, resin, sealants, hardeners, and shellac.
  • Plan and conduct research to develop and improve methods of restoring and preserving specimens.
  • Lead tours and teach educational courses to students and the general public.
  • Classify and assign registration numbers to artifacts and supervise inventory control.
  • Cut and weld metal sections in reconstruction or renovation of exterior structural sections and accessories of exhibits.
  • Install, arrange, assemble, and prepare artifacts for exhibition, ensuring the artifacts' safety, reporting their status and condition, and identifying and correcting any problems with the set up.
  • Repair, restore, and reassemble artifacts, designing and fabricating missing or broken parts, to restore them to their original appearance and prevent deterioration.
  • Clean objects, such as paper, textiles, wood, metal, glass, rock, pottery, and furniture, using cleansers, solvents, soap solutions, and polishes.
  • Photograph objects for documentation.
  • Determine whether objects need repair and choose the safest and most effective method of repair.
  • Prepare artifacts for storage and shipping.
  • Enter information about museum collections into computer databases.
  • Recommend preservation procedures, such as control of temperature and humidity, to curatorial and building staff.
  • Notify superior when restoration of artifacts requires outside experts.
  • Supervise and work with volunteers.
  • Perform on-site field work which may involve interviewing people, inspecting and identifying artifacts, note-taking, viewing sites and collections, and repainting exhibition spaces.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
13,500
Annual Openings:
1,900
Increase in Openings by 2030:
21%
Annual Salary Range:
$27,730 - $79,590
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree