Conservators preserve and restore historical objects, artworks and buildings.
Salary range: £24,000 to £60,000
How to become a conservator
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
You could do a degree or postgraduate qualification in conservation. The course you do will depend on which area of conservation you want to work in. Examples are:
- fine art
- buildings and heritage
You’ll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You can start out by doing a cultural heritage conservation technician higher apprenticeship, then take further training to qualify.
You could also apply for a cultural heritage conservator degree apprenticeship if you have the right experience and qualifications.
To do this apprenticeship, you’ll need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
You may be able to move into certain kinds of conservation work if you’ve got relevant qualifications and experience. For example, building conservation may be suitable if you’re a qualified stonemason, plasterer or roofer.
If you want to specialise in conservation of crafts, like stained glass, decorative stonework or metalwork, you’re more likely to build up your skills and experience through a work-based route.
Volunteering and experience
You’ll find that internships are a useful way to get practical experience after studying.
You can find out more about careers in conservation from The Institute of Conservation and Creative Choices.
You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- knowledge of English language
- the ability to use your initiative
- analytical thinking skills
- the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
- knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
- knowledge of the fine arts
- excellent verbal communication skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- preserving objects to stop deterioration
- checking the condition of objects
- restoring items
- 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 or buildings
You could work in a workshop, in a creative studio or in a laboratory.
You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.
Career path and progression
You could move into a management job, although this will usually mean stepping away from ‘hands on’ practical conservation work.