Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Museum Cataloguer


Museums are full of artifacts. Not only are there the items on display, but there can be acres of storage space and archives filled to the brim with artifacts kept in safe, environmentally controlled places. Every museum, no matter what the size, has someone who works as a cataloger, documenting items in the collection, keeping track of everything both in the galleries and tucked into storage. The cataloger may work exclusively in this area in a large museum, while in a small museum, cataloging may be the responsibility of administrators, curators, and conservators.

If you look closely at artifacts in a museum or on a historic site, you will see that each item has a little number either printed on it directly, or on a card nearby. This number is its catalog number. Every time a new item is donated or acquired by the museum, the cataloger must register it. They examine the whole item, inspecting it thoroughly. They record everything they know about the piece--where it came from, the previous owner, the date it arrived, size, shape, color, and any writing that is on it. Catalogers may even photograph or reproduce the item. Catalogers try to find out as much information as they can about each item, including its historical significance and its role in the collection.

Catalogers use computer databases and other programs to keep their records. This way, the information is easily accessible to museum staff, in case of damage, theft, or when curators and historians need to research. If catalogers have been thorough and consistent, keeping tabs on a collection is as easy as clicking a mouse.
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Anthropologist
arrow Archaeologist
arrow Archivist
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Arts: Professional Writing
  • MAR: Homiletics
  • MAR: Global studies
  • And more...



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Museum catalogers need to be patient, firm, and decisive individuals with good communication skills, especially good writing skills. An open cultural outlook is important, as are some foreign language skills. They should have good eyesight, be able to lift heavy items, and have good manual dexterity . They should have a love for art, history, and an understanding of various styles, genres, and time periods. They should enjoy research. An analytical mind, as well as a thorough, methodical approach to work and tasks, are important qualities for catalogers.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Examine each artifact, finding out as much as they can about history, condition, and use
  • Assign each artifact a number
  • Program information and number into computer programs
  • Update the catalog when necessary
  • Retrieve information for other museum staff
  • The typical day for the cataloger will involve working in labs or offices, examining each new artifact before cataloging it. They will consult with curators and conservators, as well as other catalogers, when necessary. They will use a database for recording new acquisitions, and when staff are looking for a particular artifact. The cataloger will locate the item using the cataloging systems. Catalogers work regular hours, unless a large number of artifacts are acquired and need to be stored or displayed immediately, which means longer hours. The job may allow for some travel, when visiting archives and storage spaces of other museums, historic sites, and libraries.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Museum catalogers are employed by archives, museums, historic sites and non-retail art galleries.They may travel a few times a year, within the city and around the world, visiting other museums and attending conferences.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Museum catalogers can advance to conservator, interpreter, and administrative positions, or leave museums altogether and find work in public and university libraries. They can also apply their methodical and analytical skills to other fields, such as journalism, history, bibliography, and data entry.

  Educational Paths  
Museum catalogers typically require some form of postsecondary education. They need an bachelor's degree in art history, history, administration, anthropology, English or sociology. This is enough to acquire some work in museums, however, a master's degree in library science, art history, or museum studies improves your chances at being hired as a cataloger. It is recommended that mueseum catalogers supplement their education with courses in computers, business studies, and languages.

Volunteering with a library, archive, or museum now, can provide valuable experience in this field.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Arts: Professional Writing
  • MAR: Homiletics
  • MAR: Global studies
  • And more...

Saint Joseph's University

Saint Joseph’s University is a comprehensive, regionally accredited university. Our national rankings and AACSB accreditation in the Haub School indicate the high quality of our undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs both online and on campus. Guided by a faculty committed to both teaching and scholarship, students develop intellectually, spiritually and emotionally through a unique curriculum, and advanced study in a chosen discipline.

Programs Offered:
  • BS in Liberal Studies - Professional Studies Track
  • BS in Liberal Studies - Autism Studies Track

Brenau University

Brenau Adult and Graduate Studies: Designed with You in Mind

Programs Offered:
  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies - Early Childhood Education
  • Associate of Arts - Liberal Studies

Keiser University

Since 1977, Keiser University has provided quality student-centered, career-focused education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions.

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Judson University

Judson University promises to help adult learners succeed with a loving community and quality education. 

Programs Offered:
  • Associate of Management

Keiser University Campus

Since 1977, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career-focused education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. 


Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university.

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

LeTourneau University - Online
Founded in 1946 by Mr. R.G. LeTourneau, LeTourneau University is private, nondenominational Christian university offering a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the College of Engineering, Business and Technology; the College of Aviation & Aeronautical Science; the College of College of Education, Arts and Sciences; and the College of Health Sciences & Professional Studies.
Programs Offered:
  • Associates of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry
  • Bachelor of Science in Theological Studies
  • And more...

Ohio Christian University
Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.
Programs Offered:
  • Associate of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in English
  • And more...

Colorado Technical University Online

CTU Classes Are As Close As The Mobile App.
Take classes with the help of your smartphone, tablet or laptop. CTU’s online bachelor’s programs were ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report.

Programs Offered:
  • Doctor of Management - Environmental and Social Sustainability (Executive Format)

West Coast University

Advance your career. 100% Focused on Health Sciences.

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (LPN to BSN) (FL)

Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2018 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.