Collections Manager

Direct all activities in a museum's or zoo's collections department.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$24,000 – $68,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Collections Managers do?

Be it walruses at the San Diego Zoo or a new a Warhol at the Museum of Modern Art, Collections Managers are responsible for overseeing the research, preservation, collection, cataloging, storage, shipping, and legal responsibilities involved with a museum’s artifacts and specimens.

Collections Managers are often considered the Jack-of-all-trades of the museum world. As a Collections Manager, you supervise the entire museum collection department, which may include Registrars, Archivists, Art Conservators, Art Handlers, and Curators. But if you work in a smaller institution, you’ll probably be playing their roles as well.

On any given day you could be conducting tasks as varied as writing grants, facilitating reparations and consultations, managing the department’s budget, interacting with donors, updating a database system, packaging artifacts for transport, or developing exhibits. Essentially you are responsible for everything in the museum’s collection from acquisition to disposal.

Since you work in a nonprofit industry, your paycheck probably won’t be everything you ever desired. However you may find the benefits of this position to be more lasting and rewarding than money, since Collection Managers play a significant role in how cultural, political, and natural history are viewed world-wide.

Should I be a Collections Manager?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Collections Director, Collections Specialist

    How to become a Collections Manager

    Most Collections Managers have a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:awao9b&chl=|certificate+%2818%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2832%25%29|master%27s+%2849%25%29|doctorate+%281%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,49
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