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American Alliance of Museums Partners with 11 Regional and State Museum Associations to Produce 2017 Salary Survey

Category: Press Release


June 20, 2017

Comprehensive Study Analyzes 52 Museum Positions on National, Local Levels

Arlington, VA − The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, has released the 2017 National Museum Salary Survey in partnership with the six regional museum associations (Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Mountain-Plains, New England, Southeastern, and Western) and five state museum associations (California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Virginia.)

The survey, compiled with data from 1,060 institutions nationwide, was created to support decision making by museum directors and human resource professionals, as well as those invested in managing their museum careers. It includes salary data on 52 positions with in-depth analysis by gender and education levels of individuals, as well as by budget size, museum type, geographic setting (urban, suburban, rural), region, and governance.

Among the key findings:

  • From 2015 to 2016, more museums increased than decreased staff.
  • The largest museums by budget size had the greatest increases in staff sizes: 59.8 percent of museums with operating budgets above $3 million experienced a net increase in staffing, as opposed to 11.7 percent of museums with operating budgets of $250,000 or below.
  • Two-thirds of all full-time paid museum professionals in the sample are women, and women outnumber men in 44 of the 52 full-time positions. However, they typically receive less pay than their male peers.
  • Compared to the 2014 survey, employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) benefits have slightly increased for smaller museums but have slightly decreased for larger museums. Slightly more than three-quarters (77.9 percent) of museums in the survey sample offered ESI for full-time employees, while 72 percent also extend these benefits to spouses and dependents.
  • While more than half of the responding institutions (60.7 percent) offer a retirement or pension plan for full-time employees, the most common full-time employee noninsurance benefits offered are museum store discounts (69.1 percent), professional development (36.2 percent), and flextime (31.3 percent).

“It’s part of our strategic plan to empower the broad museum workforce—and to drive discussions around equity in museums,” said Laura Lott, Alliance president and CEO. “Solid salary data empowers museums and their staff alike. This is one more way the Alliance helps museums to effectively manage their resources, and to develop the next generation of museum leadership.”

“This study is so important to museums as they hire and retain the best and brightest workers,” said Dan Yaeger, Executive Director, New England Museum Association. “I’m especially excited that this edition for the first time offers job seekers affordable category-level data that they can use to chart their career paths. The entire field wins when good data is available to all.”

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The 2017 National Museum Salary Survey can be purchased online. The full report is available for $100, or $60 for members of AAM and of the regional and state project partner organizations. Smaller “snapshot” reports for specific staffing categories are available for $20 each.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit


Press Contact:

Joseph Klem
Director, Public Relations
Phone: 202-218-7670

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