Art Conservator Training & Requirements

Learn how to become an art conservator. Learn about the job duties, training requirements, salary, and job outlook to see if a role as an art conservator is right for you. Schools offering Museum Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Art conservators manage the preparation and restoration of artworks included in museum or gallery exhibits and collections. Generally, the work of an art conservator is focused in a specific area such as paintings or decorative arts. Additionally, art conservators may also conduct research, write articles, and participate in outreach programs within the community. Check out the table below for quick info on the requirements and responsibilities of this career.

Degree Required Master's degree
Educational Field of Study Art conservation or a similar field
Key Responsibilities Analytical skills, organizational skills, technical skills, and customer service skills
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 12% (museum technicians and conservators)
Median Salary (2017)* $40,670 (museum technicians and conservators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Art Conservators Do?

Art conservators work to maintain and preserve various works of art using specialized means and techniques. Often, they do thorough research on the background and history of artworks, as well as record their findings in the appropriate databases or systems. Art conservators also ensure works of art are adequately prepared for exhibition. This is done by ensuring the works of art are cleaned, repaired, restored, or reassembled as needed.

What Are the Education Requirements?

Generally, art conservators need to possess a master's degree in conservation or a similar field. A background in studio art or art history is typically needed in order to qualify for entrance into a graduate program in conservation. Knowledge of archaeology would also be an asset to someone interested in this career. Successful completion of an internship in the field as an undergraduate student greatly increases the chances of admission into a graduate program.

What Are the Skill Requirements?

A role as an art conservator requires strong analytical skills and technical skills. These skills allow conservators to assess the history or origin of certain works of art as well as properly maintaining those works via the use of specialized techniques. Strong communication skills and people skills will also prove to be an asset, as art conservators often participate in various community engagement and outreach programs. Additional skills that can be useful are administration and computer skills, as this role often requires conservators to input historical data and other information into online databases.

How Much Can I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the median yearly salary for museum technicians and conservators to be $40,670 as of May 2017. Most art conservators worked full-time. The primary industries art conservators worked in were government, educational services, and museums and historical sites.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The BLS projects a growth of 12% for museum technicians and conservators between 2016 and 2026. This growth rate is quicker than the average rate for all jobs. The increased public interest in art is a contributing factor to this growth pattern. This increased public interest in art also suggests that there will be much competition for this role as there will be many qualified applicants entering the job field. Individuals with an advanced degree and a record of experience have the best prospects for obtaining a job in this field.

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