How to Become an

Art Conservator

The complete career guide to be an Art Conservator: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $44,880
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Art conservators are responsible for preserving works of art and cultural artefacts. Most conservators have specialized knowledge and expertise to ensure the accurate implementation of conservation techniques.

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What is an Art Conservator?


The work of an art conservator can revolve around various tasks, including the following:

  • Apply scientific methods and examine different artefacts to assess the quantity of degradation and alteration
  • Keep track of storage conditions for works of art and cultural objects, to maintain a stable environment with the aim of maximising their condition
  • Engage in collaborations with fellow art conservators at other locations, for knowledge sharing and to develop innovative preservation techniques
  • Utilize a learning approach and update your understanding of the latest practices in art conservation through significant research
  • Assess the estimated cost of art and cultural projects for optimal preservation and the reduction of decay among art objects

Day In The Life

The daily life of an art conservator can be very rewarding, especially if one is interested in preserving the cultural heritage of iconic art and historical objects. Working closely with valuable art and artefacts is an essential part of the day-to-day work.

Your day would start with catching up on emails and phone messages from ongoing projects. Then, you are likely to engage in meetings with curators to assess which objects can be lent to other art institutions or displayed to the public.

Writing a report post-assessment of a work of art is also a vital role as an art conservator. It will be your job to determine the damage and decide how best to treat and restore the piece. Further, you may complete the conservation treatment of a cultural object and keep a record of photographs of the artwork, before and after treatment.

Work Schedule And Typical Hours

Those interested in a career as an art conservator typically work at least 35-40 hours per week, from nine to five. Extra hours might be needed for projects with tight deadlines. Working away from home overnight and travel abroad is occasionally necessary, in addition to normal work hours. Independent art conservators often work as freelancers and enjoy flexible hours, based on the level of experience and specialisation.

Growth Of The Job

Job openings in this sector are projected to see considerable growth of 7 percent from 2014 to 2024. While there will be plenty of competition, job opportunities will be available for aspiring candidates. New technological advancements will result in new types of job roles specializing in those specific skills, e.g. conservators might utilize laser technology to clear discolorations in paintings.

To have a successful reputation and develop a long career in this field, one has to be willing to work with a flexible time schedule and travel as necessary. Many people start working on a freelance basis for different clients in order to expand their prospects.

Typical Employers

Conservation professionals like art conservators can work in a wide range of sectors across the country, and attain related job positions. Typical employers in this sector are national museums and galleries, private art studios, heritage organisations, archives, libraries, university galleries and government agencies.

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How To Become an Art Conservator

To find employment in art conservation, you must at least successfully complete an undergraduate degree program in fine arts, art history, anthropology, chemistry or archaeology. Undergraduate programs will require two to four years in residence and also require summer internships.

Besides completing the required course work for a Bachelor’s degree, graduate programs strongly encourage aspiring art conservators to obtain applied skills in art conservation, through an undergraduate introductory internship or fieldwork. Internships in conservation work that take place at regional, institutional, or private conservation laboratories also provides one with a rich learning experience.

Many art conservators go on to complete their post graduate education for valuable insights and advanced research exposure. Before undertaking a post-graduate degree, it is important to visit conservation studios, museums or art galleries to clearly assess which discipline of conservation is most suitable for your background and skills. For instance, conservation is carried out in diverse areas such as ceramics and glass, paper, sculpture, painting and textiles.

In order to be successful as an art conservator, you must demonstrate superior attention to detail and a genuine appreciation of art. Much of the daily work will involve utilizing delicate tools such as scalpels, tweezers and microscopes. You will also have to implement scientific methods like x-rays, microscopic analyses and infrared photography to efficiently examine cultural artefacts.

Art Conservator Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Art Conservator salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Art Conservator's can make an average annual salary of $44,880, or $22 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $31,060 or $15 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #452 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Art Conservator. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Art Conservators

  • 8.7%   Doctorate
  • 40%   Masters
  • 35%   Bachelors
  • 2.9%   Associates
  • 8.6%   College
  • 4.2%   High School
  • 0.6%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Art Conservator job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 600 jobs for a total of 11,900 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #415 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Art Conservators

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Museums, historical sites, and similar institutions 4,600 500 1%
Federal government, excluding postal service 2,000 -100 0%
Self-employed workers 800 100 0%

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