Monday, August 24, 2009

Museum Job: $204,000 a year. No lie.

I am sure that many of you have seen this posting for a Project Director/Museum Developer in Abu Dhabi. Salary is quoted at $204,000

Now, I know that there are many reasons that Abu Dhabi features HIGH salaries for jobs. I do not want to discuss those elements of the equation today.

Instead, I ask: Which of you would sign up for 3 years in a foreign country--one VERY different than the one you are used to--in order to make that much money? I am sure it would be a very interesting position. In three years, you could make more money working in museums than you could hope to make in 10-15 years here.

And if many people are willing to leave the US in order to make more money working in museums, isn't the USA shooting itself in the foot here? Bring on the continued brain drain.


  1. Depends on the cost of living in Abu Dhabi. It's all relative.

  2. Well, that's the main reason I'm living in London. If it had been possible for me to get a job in the USA that paid enough for me to bring my husband over from England, we would have done that. But although I don't make much considering the cost of living in London, it's still more than we could have hoped for back home.

    Here's crossing fingers that someday this situation improves and I can move back and still get paid reasonably for what I do!

  3. Amy, here are the latest figures on the cost of living in Abu Dhabi. As the 26th most expensive city in the world it ranks lower than New York (#8) or London (#16)! So no, cost of living doesn't excuse this.

  4. Another point to mention is that almost 100% of the jobs in Abu Dhabi that bring in expats provide coverage above and beyond salary for living expenses. You pay for your home or flat rental up front for the year. The reason that jobs require contracts of at least 1 year is that they pay for your housing, benefits, and flights home 1 or 2 times a year, so the $204,000 would actually be much more than that once you factor these things in.

    I think that even though it is a very different place, it would be worthwhile financially and as a career step to take the risk, depending on your situation. Also, would taking a job like this make it more or less likely that you could get hired once you returned to your home country? Maybe less... I don't think a museum in the U.S. would want to hire you once they saw that your last salary was $200k plus... it might make them think that you aren't affordable. But it does go to show that other governments and cultures are putting museums higher up on their priority lists.

  5. WOW. Abu Dhabi is a beautiful and truly modern city too. Go for it.