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A Career in Conservation

Conservation is a rewarding career for those with a passion for both art and science. Traditional hand skills and new technologies are applied to the preservation of heritage materials ranging from fine art to archives to historic objects. Project management ability, analytical skills, and cross-cultural expertise are also valued. In the conservation profession, there is room for people with many different skill sets. 

In the past, the route to becoming a conservator was through apprenticeship. While this is still possible, the majority of training now occurs in formal college or university programs. These programs usually require that students undertake internships; many graduates complete further internships and fellowships to obtain additional experience. There is no one specific route to becoming a conservation scientist, although a degree in science or engineering is generally considered to be essential.

Positions in conservation can be found in museums, galleries, archives, libraries and government agencies, among others. Some conservators opt to become self-employed or work for a private firm. In Canada, conservation scientists are currently employed primarily in government agencies rather than in museums or in the private sector, although this could change in the future. The number of conservation positions in any one place is limited, and it may be necessary to move in order to take up employment in the field.

A career in conservation is one of life-long learning. Each project brings new challenges and surprises, and it would be difficult to find a conservator or conservation scientist who is bored with their work. We consider ourselves privileged to have such intimate access to objects and works of art, to connect with their makers, and to preserve that which is valued by our communities.

Further information on conservation training can be found here.