Education Directors and Museum Teachers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

As an education director or a museum teacher, you will need a diverse educational background to perform well in your job. At the high school level, you should take courses in creative writing, literature, history, the sciences, foreign languages, art, and speech. These courses will give you general background knowledge you can use to interpret collections, write letters to school principals, design curriculum materials, develop multicultural education, and lecture to public audiences. Math and computer skills are also strongly recommended. You will use these skills when preparing budgets and calculating the number of visitors that can fit in an exhibit space, and when writing grants or asking corporations and federal agencies for program funding. 

Postsecondary Training

In order to be an education director or museum teacher, you must have a bachelor's degree. Many museums, zoos, and botanical gardens also require a master's degree. The largest zoos and museums prefer to hire education directors and teachers who have doctoral degrees.

Some colleges in the United States offer programs of instruction leading to a degree in museology (the study of museums). Visit http://ww2.aam-us.org/resources/careers/museum-studies. Most education directors and teachers work in museums that specialize in art, history, or science. These professionals often have degrees in fields related to the museum's specialty. Directors and educators who work in zoos usually have studied biology or zoology or have worked closely with animals. Education directors and teachers who work in more specialized museums often have studied such specialized fields as early American art, woodcarvings, or the history of circuses.

Because of their teaching duties, museum teachers and education specialists must also have a bachelor's degree in an academic discipline or in education.

Other Education or Training

The American Alliance of Museums offers continuing education (CE) opportunities via webinars and educational sessions at its Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo. Recent sessions included Technology and Museum Visitor Experiences, Online Learning and Education, Trends in Technology, Museum Educators and Social Media, and Interpretive Planning Basics: Planning for Visitor Experiences. The American Association for State and Local History and the American Public Gardens Association also provide CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for education directors or museum teachers. However, teachers would already have the required teaching certification and/or license.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience as a teacher is required for a job as a museum teacher. Aspiring education directors must have at least several years of experience in education-related positions in museums or cultural centers to be considered for this top-level position. 

Excellent communication skills are essential in this field. Your primary responsibility will be to interpret and present collections to a broad public audience. The ability to motivate and teach many individuals from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, age groups, and educational levels is necessary. You should also be organized and flexible. You will be at a great advantage if you know a foreign language, American Sign Language, and first aid. Education directors also need strong leadership and managerial skills.