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Conservator

Alternative titles for this job include Conservation officer

Conservators clean, repair and restore objects, artworks and buildings of historical and cultural importance.

Average salary (a year)

£26,000 Starter

to

£38,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 variable

You could work

as a contractor / self-employed managing your own hours

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Conservator

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

University

You can study a subject related to the type of conservation work you want to do.

Examples of conservation specialisms include:

  • fine art
  • architecture and heritage
  • archaeology
  • books and paper
  • textiles
  • human customs and cultures

You can also do postgraduate qualifications in conservation after completing a first degree.

The Institute of Conservation (ICON) has details of universities offering degree and postgraduate courses.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information

Apprenticeship

You could apply for a place on an apprenticeship. These include:

  • Cultural Heritage Conservation Technician Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship
  • Cultural Heritage Conservator Level 7 Apprenticeship, which is equivalent to a postgraduate degree

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More Information

Work

You may be able to move into certain types 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.

Volunteering

You'll also have an advantage when looking for courses and jobs if you have work experience with a museum collection or at a historic site.

More Information

Career tips

You could apply for The Institute of Conservation's internship programme. It can be a useful way to get practical experience after studying.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in collections conservation from The Institute of Conservation.

You can also learn about artwork restoration through The British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a conservator, you'll:

  • assess the condition of items and plan conservation options
  • keep written and digital records before, during and after work
  • analyse items using scans, x-rays and microscopic examinations
  • use scalpels, cotton swabs and solvents to clean objects
  • restore items using original methods and materials
  • manage display and storage conditions, like temperature and humidity
  • give talks and presentations to visitor groups and professionals

Working environment

You could work in a museum, in a workshop, in a creative studio, in a laboratory or visit sites.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a senior or principal conservator, managing a collections team.

You may have more opportunities for career development if you join a larger institution, like a national gallery or museum.

Other options include:

  • research and teaching in higher education
  • working with a commercial conservation company
  • setting up as a freelance specialist, doing contract work on projects

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a Conservator right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Fine art textiles

  • Provider: THE JOHN OF GAUNT SCHOOL
  • Start date: 02 September 2025
  • Location: Trowbridge

"Fine Art BTEC HNC - Level 4 - EDEXCEL"

  • Provider: CHESHIRE COLLEGE SOUTH AND WEST
  • Start date: 16 September 2024
  • Location: Crewe

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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