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Top 10 Museum Curator Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for museum curators, including requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are important for a museum curator in the job market because they demonstrate to potential employers that the candidate has the necessary experience, knowledge, and skills to perform in their role. Certifications provide evidence that a person has studied and learned a specific body of knowledge, which is essential for success as a museum curator. Additionally, certifications can help boost a candidate’s resume and give them an edge over other applicants who do not have similar qualifications. Certifications also provide credibility and recognition within the field, which can be helpful when applying for positions or advancing in one’s career.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the most beneficial museum curator certifications and how they can enhance a museum curator's career.

What are Museum Curator Certifications?

Museum curator certification is a program designed to provide museum professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage and curate museum collections. It can help museum professionals by providing them with the essential skills to properly care for, preserve, and interpret historical artifacts, documents, and works of art. The certification includes instruction on topics such as cataloging and archiving techniques, collection management principles, exhibit design concepts, conservation techniques, digital asset management strategies, legal issues related to museums, evaluation methods for determining the value of objects in a collection, and more. By earning this certification, museum professionals can demonstrate their commitment to professional development and ensure that the collections they oversee are managed according to industry standards. This can be invaluable in helping them secure positions at prestigious institutions or gain recognition among their peers.

Pro Tip: Consider taking courses or workshops related to museum curation and management, as well as attending professional conferences and seminars, to gain a greater understanding of museum curation. These activities can help you build your knowledge base, increase your network of contacts in the field, and prepare you for certification as a museum curator.

Related: What does a Museum Curator do?

Top 10 Museum Curator Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Museum Curators today.

1. American Association of Museum Curators (AAMC) Certification

The American Association of Museum Curators (AAMC) Certification is a professional certification program that recognizes museum curators who have achieved a high level of professional expertise in the field. It is designed to demonstrate a commitment to excellence in museum curation and to provide recognition for those who are dedicated to the profession.

To become AAMC Certified, candidates must meet certain qualifications, including having at least five years of professional experience in museum curation and having completed an approved course of study or training related to the field. Candidates must also pass an exam administered by the AAMC. The exam covers topics such as museum management, collections management, exhibition design, and interpretation.

It typically takes about two years for individuals to complete all of the requirements for AAMC Certification. During this time, candidates should take courses related to their field and gain experience working in museums. They should also prepare for the exam by studying relevant materials and taking practice tests.

The cost of becoming AAMC Certified varies depending on the individual's circumstances. Generally speaking, it costs around $400-$500 to register for the exam, plus any additional fees associated with taking courses or gaining experience in museums.

2. Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Certification

The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Certification is a voluntary professional certification program for science center and museum professionals. It recognizes the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individuals in the field. The ASTC Certification Program is designed to provide recognition for professionals who have demonstrated a mastery of the core competencies necessary to succeed in their roles.

It typically takes six months to complete the ASTC Certification process. The first step is to submit an application form which includes information about your education, experience, and professional development activities. After submitting the application form, you will be required to take an online assessment that tests your knowledge and understanding of the core competencies for science center and museum professionals. Upon successful completion of the assessment, you will receive a certificate from ASTC indicating that you have met all requirements for certification.

To get ASTC certification, you must pay a fee of $150 USD. This fee covers the cost of processing your application and taking the online assessment. Additionally, there may be other costs associated with obtaining certification such as travel expenses or fees associated with attending workshops or conferences related to science centers or museums.

In addition to completing the application form and taking the online assessment, applicants must also demonstrate their commitment to ongoing professional development by attending at least one ASTC-approved workshop or conference each year after receiving their certification. This requirement helps ensure that certified professionals are up-to-date on best practices in science center and museum management and operations.

3. International Council of Museums (ICOM) Certification

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) is an international non-governmental organization that works to promote the conservation and protection of natural and cultural heritage around the world. It is a professional body that provides certification for museums, galleries, and other heritage institutions.

ICOM Certification is a voluntary process that recognizes excellence in museum management and operations. The certification process involves an assessment of a museum’s policies, procedures, collections, facilities, staff training, financial management, public access, education programs, and more. It also requires a commitment to ongoing professional development.

The process typically takes between six months and one year to complete. To get started on the path to ICOM Certification, museums must first submit an application form with all relevant documentation. This includes information about the museum’s mission statement, history, collections policy, educational activities, etc. Once this is approved by ICOM’s board of directors, the museum will be assigned an assessor who will conduct an on-site review of the museum’s operations. After this review is completed, a final report will be issued which outlines any areas for improvement or further action needed before certification can be granted.

The cost of ICOM Certification varies depending on the size and scope of the museum being assessed but typically ranges from $1-2 thousand USD plus travel expenses for the assessor if required.

4. American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Certified Museum Professional Program

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Certified Museum Professional Program is a voluntary program that offers professional certification to museum professionals. It is designed to recognize the knowledge, skills, and experience of museum professionals and to promote excellence in the field.

The program consists of three levels: Certified Museum Professional (CMP), Senior Certified Museum Professional (SCMP), and Master Certified Museum Professional (MCMP). To become certified at any level, applicants must meet certain requirements including education, work experience, and professional development activities.

To become a CMP, applicants must have a minimum of two years of full-time paid museum-related work experience or its equivalent; completion of at least 30 hours of approved continuing education; and passing an online exam. The exam covers topics such as museum ethics, management principles, collections care and use, interpretation techniques, fundraising strategies, and more. The cost for the CMP application fee is $225 USD.

To become an SCMP or MCMP requires additional qualifications such as five or ten years' work experience respectively; completion of additional continuing education hours; letters of recommendation from supervisors or peers; and successful completion of an essay. The application fees for SCMP and MCMP are $275 USD and $325 USD respectively.

Overall it can take anywhere from several months to over a year to complete all the requirements for certification depending on how quickly you are able to complete the necessary steps.

5. National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME) Certification

The National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME) Certification is a professional certification program that recognizes museum professionals who have achieved excellence in exhibition design, management, and evaluation. The program was established in 1998 to recognize the accomplishments of those who have dedicated their careers to the field of museum exhibition.

The NAME Certification is a three-year process that includes an application, portfolio review, and oral examination. Applicants must demonstrate their knowledge and experience in the areas of exhibition design, management, and evaluation. They must also provide evidence of their professional contributions to the field through published works or presentations.

To get certified by NAME, applicants must submit an application form along with a $150 application fee. Once accepted into the program, they will need to prepare a portfolio that documents their experience in exhibition design, management, and evaluation. This portfolio will be reviewed by a panel of experts who will then determine whether or not they are eligible for certification. If accepted into the program, applicants will be required to take an oral examination which consists of questions related to their experience and knowledge in the field of museum exhibition.

Once applicants have successfully completed all requirements for certification, they will receive a certificate from NAME recognizing them as certified museum professionals. The cost for obtaining NAME Certification varies depending on individual circumstances but typically ranges from $500-$1,000 USD.

6. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Certified Museum Professional Program

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Certified Museum Professional Program is a professional development program that provides museum professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to effectively manage and lead museums. The program is designed to help museum professionals become more knowledgeable and better prepared to meet the challenges of today’s museums.

The IMLS Certified Museum Professional Program consists of three levels: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each level requires completion of courses in museum management, collections management, public programming, fundraising, marketing and communications, legal issues, financial management, technology use in museums, human resources management and other topics related to museum operations.

The Basic level takes approximately six months to complete; the Intermediate level takes approximately nine months; and the Advanced level takes approximately twelve months. The total cost for completing all three levels is $3,500.

In order to get certified through the IMLS Certified Museum Professional Program one must first complete an application form provided by IMLS. After submitting the application form one must then take an assessment test which will determine their eligibility for the program. Once accepted into the program one must complete all required courses within each level within a specified time frame in order to receive certification. Upon successful completion of all courses at each level one will receive their certificate of completion from IMLS.

7. Canadian Museums Association (CMA) Certified Museum Professional Program

The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) Certified Museum Professional Program is a professional development program for museum professionals. It is designed to recognize the achievements of museum professionals who have demonstrated excellence in their field. The program is open to any individual working in the museum sector, regardless of job title or position.

The CMA Certified Museum Professional Program consists of three levels: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each level requires a specific number of hours of professional development activities and an assessment process. To receive certification at each level, applicants must demonstrate knowledge and skills related to the museum profession as well as commitment to ongoing professional development.

The Basic level requires 40 hours of professional development activities over a period of two years, while the Intermediate and Advanced levels require 80 hours and 120 hours respectively over a period of four years. The cost for each level varies depending on whether you are a CMA member or non-member. For members, the cost is $75 per level; for non-members it is $125 per level.

To apply for certification at any level, applicants must submit an application form along with proof that they have completed the required number of hours in professional development activities. Once approved, applicants will receive their certificate from the CMA and be recognized as a Certified Museum Professional at that particular level.

Overall, the CMA Certified Museum Professional Program provides recognition for individuals who have achieved excellence in their field by committing to ongoing professional development activities within the museum sector.

8. American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Certified Local History Professional Program

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Certified Local History Professional Program is a professional certification program designed to recognize the accomplishments of individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of local history. The program was established in 1992 and is open to anyone interested in pursuing a career in local history.

In order to become certified, individuals must complete an application process that includes submitting documentation of their educational background, professional experience, and other qualifications. Once accepted into the program, applicants must complete a series of courses, seminars, and workshops that cover topics such as historical research methods, interpretation techniques, public programming strategies, grant writing skills, and more. Upon completion of the program requirements, participants are eligible to receive their certification from AASLH.

The entire process typically takes between one and two years to complete depending on how quickly an individual can finish the required courses. The cost for the program varies depending on how many courses are taken and whether or not any additional materials are purchased. In general, however, it typically costs around $1,000 USD to become certified through AASLH.

9. International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) Certification

The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) is a professional organization dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage. It provides certification for conservators who have met the highest standards of professional practice.

To become IIC certified, applicants must demonstrate their knowledge and skills in conservation theory, practice, and ethics. This includes completing an accredited training program, having a minimum of two years' experience in the field, and passing an examination. The process typically takes two to three years to complete.

Applicants must submit an application form along with supporting documentation such as transcripts, references, and a portfolio demonstrating their work. There is also an application fee which varies depending on the country in which the applicant resides.

Once all requirements have been met, applicants will be invited to take the IIC Certification Examination. This exam consists of written and practical components that test knowledge of conservation principles and practices. Successful candidates will receive their IIC Certification upon completion of the exam.

In addition to providing recognition for conservators who meet high standards of practice, IIC Certification also serves as a mark of quality assurance for clients seeking qualified professionals in this field.

10. National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Certified Museum Professional Program

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Certified Museum Professional Program is a professional development program designed to increase the knowledge, skills, and abilities of museum professionals. The program provides an opportunity for individuals to demonstrate their commitment to the highest standards of excellence in museum practice.

The program consists of three components: a self-assessment, an online course, and a certification exam. The self-assessment is used to evaluate the individual’s current knowledge and understanding of museum practices. The online course provides comprehensive instruction on topics such as collections management, exhibition design, public programming, fundraising, and more. Finally, the certification exam tests the individual’s mastery of all aspects of museum work.

The program typically takes between 6-12 months to complete depending on the individual’s prior experience and level of commitment. To get started with the program, individuals must submit an application form along with a fee of $200 USD. After submitting their application form and fee, they will be contacted by NEH staff who will provide further instructions on how to access the self-assessment and online course materials.

Once all components have been completed successfully, individuals can apply for their NEH Certified Museum Professional certificate which will be valid for five years from date of issue.

Do You Really Need a Museum Curator Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the individual's career aspirations. For some, a museum curator certificate may be necessary in order to pursue a career as a museum curator. However, for others, a certificate may not be necessary if they already possess the skills and knowledge required to become a successful museum curator.

For those considering pursuing a career as a museum curator, it is important to research what qualifications are needed in the field. Depending on the type of museum, different qualifications may be required. For example, some museums require applicants to have an educational background in art or history while others may require experience in managing people or projects. Additionally, many museums look for applicants who have strong communication and organizational skills as well as an understanding of current trends in the industry.

In addition to researching what qualifications are needed, individuals should also consider their own interests and strengths when deciding whether or not they need to obtain a museum curator certificate. Depending on their existing skill set and experience level, obtaining such a certificate may or may not be necessary for them to pursue their desired career path.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not one needs to obtain a museum curator certificate depends on their individual goals and circumstances. Those looking into becoming museum curators should thoroughly research what qualifications are needed for their desired position before making any decisions about obtaining additional certifications or education.

Related: Museum Curator Resume Examples

FAQs About Museum Curator Certifications

Q1. What is a museum curator certification?

A1. A museum curator certification is an official recognition of an individual’s knowledge and expertise in the field of curating and managing museums. It provides evidence that the person has met professional standards and can be trusted to manage a museum's collection, exhibitions and programs responsibly.

Q2. How do I become certified as a museum curator?

A2. Becoming certified as a museum curator requires completing a formal education program in museum studies or related fields, such as history or art history. After gaining experience working in a museum setting, you may also choose to take an exam administered by an accredited professional organization to demonstrate your skills and knowledge of the field.

Q3. What qualifications do I need to become certified as a museum curator?

A3. Generally speaking, you will need at least a bachelor's degree in either museum studies or a related field such as history or art history, plus several years of experience working in museums or similar settings before you can be eligible for certification. You may also need to pass an exam administered by an accredited professional organization to demonstrate your skills and knowledge of the field.

Q4. What are the benefits of becoming certified as a museum curator?

A4: Becoming certified as a museum curator can help you stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs and promotions within the industry, as well as give you access to specialized resources and networking opportunities that can help further your career goals. Additionally, it can provide peace of mind knowing that you have met professional standards and are able to competently manage museums' collections, exhibitions and programs responsibly.

Q5 Are there any online courses available for becoming certified as a museum curator?

A5 Yes! There are several online courses available through accredited institutions that offer comprehensive training on topics such as collection management, exhibition design, programming and more – all designed to equip students with the skills necessary for success in this profession.