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.
Sample of reported job titles: Art Preparator, Conservation Technician, Conservator, Exhibit Technician, Museum Registrar, Museum Technician, Objects Conservator, Paintings Conservator, Paper Conservator, Preparator
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- Lead tours and teach educational courses to students and the general public.
- Classify and assign registration numbers to artifacts and supervise inventory control.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cut and weld metal sections in reconstruction or renovation of exterior structural sections and accessories of exhibits.
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- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD
- Data base user interface and query software — Gallery Systems EmbARK; PastPerfect Software PastPerfect; Questor Systems ARGUS; Questor Systems QScan32
- Desktop publishing software — Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign
- Development environment software — Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Suite
- Document management software — Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
- Electronic mail software — Microsoft Outlook
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator ; Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
- Object oriented data base management software — Microsoft Visual FoxPro
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Web platform development software — Microsoft Active Server Pages ASP
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- History and Archeology — Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
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- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
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- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
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- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Construct exhibits or parts of exhibits.
- Prepare materials for preservation, storage, or display.
- Classify materials according to standard systems.
- Direct department activities.
- Evaluate characteristics of archival or historical objects.
- Inspect materials or equipment to determine need for repair or replacement.
- Maintain operational records.
- Enter information into databases or software programs.
- Record research or operational data.
- Advise educators on curricula, instructional methods, or policies.
- Develop policies or procedures for archives, museums or libraries.
- Direct activities of subordinates.
- Discuss problems or issues with supervisors.
- Research topics in area of expertise.
- Plan community programs or activities for the general public.
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- Freedom to Make Decisions — 69% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 69% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 49% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 46% responded “Very important.”
- Electronic Mail — 61% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 62% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 54% responded “Extremely important.”
- Telephone — 42% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 38% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 38% responded “Important results.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 35% responded “More than half the time.”
- Deal With External Customers — 29% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Standing — 50% responded “About half the time.”
- Time Pressure — 42% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 31% responded “Very important.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 30% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 33% responded “Important.”
- Physical Proximity — 32% responded “I work with others but not closely (e.g., private office).”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 25% responded “High responsibility.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 35% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 23% responded “No responsibility.”
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|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
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Interest code: RA Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
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- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
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- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$21.98 hourly, $45,710 annual|
|Employment (2020)||13,500 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Much faster than average (15% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||1,900|
|Top industries (2020)||
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Academy of Certified Archivists
- American Alliance of Museums
- American Association for State and Local History
- American Institute for Conservation
- American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
- Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists
- Association of Science-Technology Centers
- Council of State Archivists
- International Council of Museums
- International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
- National Association for Museum Exhibition
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Archivists, curators, and museum workers
- Society for American Archaeology
- Society of American Archivists
- Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
- The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections
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