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Conservator Conservation officer

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Conservators preserve and restore historical objects and buildings.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £24,000 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need a degree in conservation. If your degree is in another subject, you'll usually also need a postgraduate qualification in conservation.

You'll also need some work experience or some work-based training like an internship.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

The Institute of Conservation (Icon) has more information about courses and internships.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to clearly explain complex issues
  • a methodical and detailed approach
  • artistic, technological and scientific ability
  • business skills if you are self-employed

3. What you'll do

Conservators look after historical objects or artefacts in a museum or private collection. They use a range of scientific methods, materials and equipment to preserve and restore them.

You could be working with paintings, books or furniture in a museum, art gallery or private house, or a property and grounds owned by a charity.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • preserving objects to stop deterioration
  • checking the condition of objects
  • restoring
  • making sure that conditions are right for display and storage
  • keeping written and photographic records
  • working in a team with other conservators
  • giving presentations to visitors, including school groups
  • setting up exhibitions and arranging safe transportation
  • giving advice on collections

4. Salary

Starter: £24,000

Experienced: £30,000 to £35,000

Highly Experienced: £60,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week.

You could be employed or self-employed. Employers may include art dealers, auction houses or private collectors.

If you're self-employed, you'll often manage your own time and the hours you do would depend on how much work you have.

You'll usually be based in a workshop, studio or laboratory, or on site. You could be outdoors if you're doing work like restoring stone masonry.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could progress into management, although this will usually mean moving away from 'hands on' practical conservation work.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018