Conservation Officer

Job Description:

Conservators preserve and restore objects, artworks and buildings of historical importance.

Job Category:
Culture, Media & Sport

What you will 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


You’ll need:

  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • concentration skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • ambition and a desire to succeed (drive)
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things (creativity)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Conservation Officer, you typically do not need specific subjects, but certain subjects and skills can be beneficial in preparing for a career in conservation and environmental protection. Conservation Officers are responsible for managing and protecting natural resources, wildlife habitats, and ecosystems. Here are some relevant subjects:

  1. Biology: Biology provides a strong foundation in understanding living organisms, ecosystems, and ecological principles, which are fundamental to conservation work.
  2. Environmental Science or Geography: courses in Environmental Science or Geography can provide insights into environmental issues, ecosystems, and geography that are relevant to conservation.
  3. Mathematics (Maths): Basic numeracy skills are important for data analysis, budgeting, and conducting research related to conservation projects.
  4. English Language: Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential for documenting research findings, writing reports, and communicating with colleagues and the public.
  5. Chemistry: While not mandatory, Chemistry can be useful for understanding chemical aspects of environmental processes and pollution.

Post School

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.


Working Hours 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.

Career Path & Progression:

You could move into project management, although this may mean stepping away from ‘hands on’ practical conservation work.

You could go into teaching or academic research or work as a freelance consultant.