What Information to Gather for Museum Job Salaries

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

November 08, 2023

Last week we offered  a review of resources to consult for calculating museum salaries. This week we will review the specific pieces of information to extract from each resource in anticipation of putting it all together. 

It is time to gather and crunch the numbers, because knowing the numbers is the first piece to building your case for an accurate salary.

Gather & Crunch Data: Baseline

First, get your baseline numbers. For this you’ll need the minimum wage and living wage for your geographic location. For a quick breakdown on why these two numbers exist: 

Minimum wage is the federal or state legislated minimum wage which is the lowest hourly rate an employer can go. For a variety of reasons, minimum wage is usually never an accurate representation of how much is need to live—as in affording housing, food, childcare, transportation, etc. This is where the concept of “living wage” comes in as it’s an independently established value that more accurately reflects the hourly wage needed to afford to live in any one location. While it’s helpful to know the minimum wage, it’s even more enlightening to know the hourly rate required to live.

Gather & Crunch Data: Position’s Actual Salary

Next, it’s important to know what the position’s current salary is, whether for a job you currently hold or are considering applying for. If you’re in the market for a new job then comparing several jobs from a geographic area can give you a range. Additionally, the city, state, and federal jobs available for your area of expertise can also provide a municipal salary snapshot. These are usually fairly healthy salaries, but can still help with expectation setting for you and your current or future employer. Finally, there are salary surveys available that can provide insight to recent past salaries; however, you will need to pay attention the year the salary was recorded and then adjust it by the percentage of inflation since its capture.

Gather & Crunch Data: Market Rate

Finally, we need an analysis of what the current market rate is for your position. For this data area we want to gather a few different data points and establish a salary range. For this part we can consult:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Google
  • Job Boards: LinkedIn, Monster, Zip Recruiter, Indeed, etc.
  • Regional Job Boards in the Profession
  • National Job Boards in the Profession
  • I Need a Library Job, Archives Gig, Museum Savvy, etc.

For each resource, search for the position description and (if possible) narrow down to the approximate geographic area of interest. These sources will offer a variety of data points and you’ll need to use your discretion when considering wild data points on either side. Some jobs are inaccurately captured and reported. Once you have a data set you feel confident in, you can determine an average salary and construct a salary range for the position in the specified geographic area based on the data.


You now have all the numbers you need to inform your salary. This knowledge can be incredibly helpful if you’re in the job market as you’ll be able to navigate salary conversations with confidence in your numbers. In addition, if you are already employed, knowing your numbers helps you know if there is room to increase your salary according to the market. Knowing exact data points can help you build your case and communicate to your boss and Human Resources. Next week we will put the pieces together as we go through the specifics of how to construct (or validate) your position description and calculate your salary—in detail.

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

To learn more, please join us for a free webinar, Building the Case for Museum Job Salaries, November 29,  2023 at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern. (Can’t make it? Register anyway and we will send you a link to the recording and slides afterwards). Register now or call 604-278-6717.

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