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Conservator

Conservators plan, coordinate, and participate in the preservation and conservation of natural and cultural heritage. This may include contemporary, historic and prehistoric objects, Indigenous materials, natural history specimens, archival materials, and works of art. They also study and manage environmental influences on artifact preservation.

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Conservators (5112.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Conservators and Curators (F012) 
  • 2011 NOC: Conservators and curators (5112) 
  • 2016 NOC: Conservators and curators (5112) 
  • 2021 NOC: Conservators and curators (51101) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Conservators

2006 NOC: 5112.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
DIRECTIVE

Interest in instructing to provide advice on display and storage of museum and gallery artifacts to ensure proper maintenance and preservation; and in supervising conservation and other museum technicians

innovative

Interest in precision working to conserve and restore antiquities and works of art using aesthetic sensibility, and manual and artistic skills; and in researching new conservation and restoration techniques

methodical

Interest in analyzing information to account for, acquire and receive archival material; and in checking detail, recording information and filing material

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Conservators work with a wide variety of objects, such as:

  • Clothing and textiles
  • Furniture
  • Musical instruments
  • Decorative art objects
  • Historical artifacts
  • Natural history collections
  • Indigenous materials
  • Archeological materials
  • Industrial artifacts
  • Architecture, such as historical buildings
  • Photographs
  • Books and archival materials
  • Works of art on paper
  • Paintings
  • Sculptures
  • Mixed media artworks
  • New media artworks
  • Motion-picture film and video recordings and audio recordings

They usually specialize in certain types of material or categories of objects but, in general, conservators:

  • Advise curators and archivists regarding the object’s condition and suggest possible treatments and options for long-term care
  • Perform analytical tests and technical exams to better understand material composition or mechanisms of degradation, in order to determine compatible storage and conservation treatment materials and techniques
  • Conserve and restore objects using scientific knowledge and analytical methods (such as polarized light microscopy and chemical analysis) as well as manual and artistic skills and aesthetic sensibilities
  • Maintain written, electronic, and photographic records of the condition of artifacts, treatment options, and treatments carried out
  • Prepare reports on progress, technical issues, and other topics
  • Take preventive conservation measures such as ensuring that storage environments are stable and that they protect objects from environmental agents of deterioration
  • Advise curators, archivists, educators, and designers on environmental needs and suitability of collections for exhibit, storage, loan, and travel
  • Draft policies and administer procedures to prevent damage caused by excess light, fluctuations in temperature and humidity, dust particles, air pollution, infestation, and human interaction
  • Monitor collection storage areas, galleries, reference rooms, libraries, and laboratories for pests
  • Conduct surveys of sites, facilities, and collections
  • Direct and supervise the activities of conservation assistants, technicians, and interns
  • Design and deliver training programs for staff, volunteers, and contractors on the care and conservation of collections
  • Complete risk assessments for collections, and prepare disaster plans
  • Research and evaluate new conservation and restoration techniques (such as new cleaning methods for paintings or wood consolidation) and make them available to the museum community
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 17, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Conservators may use, examine, and treat a wide variety of materials, which can contain toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials. They may also work with firearms collections. They must follow safety precautions to avoid injury or illness. Conservators may work on ladders or scaffolding. They may experience health problems related to repetitive hand movements and neck or back strain. Or they may be exposed to objects or areas that have been subject to mould or pest infestation.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Conservators need:

  • An active interest in art, science, and history
  • Respect for the objects in their care
  • Creativity and flexibility
  • Manual dexterity
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Good colour perception
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • An ability to concentrate for long periods and pay close attention to details
  • An ability to work as part of a team
  • A willingness to keep up to date with new conservation techniques

Conservators should enjoy completing tasks with precision, finding solutions to problems, and taking a methodical approach to their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2021
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

Conservators need a combination of skills and knowledge in general museum practice and operations, chemistry, and other subjects such as:

  • Art history
  • Anthropology
  • Paleontology
  • Materials science (for example, textile science)
  • Studio art and design
  • Photography
  • Biology or other sciences

They also need creative and manual skills in fields such as painting, sewing, cabinet making, or silversmithing. Internship training in established conservation laboratories and studios is an asset. Conservators should be able to advocate for preservation programs within institutions and the broader heritage community.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Additional Information

Outside of Alberta, the following Canadian schools offer post-secondary programs directly related to conservation work:

  • Algonquin College in Ottawa offers a 3- year Applied Museum Studies program.
  • Queen’s University in Kingston offers a 2-year Master’s degree program in Art Conservation with specializations in paintings, artifacts, paper objects, and research.
  • Fleming College in Peterborough offers a 4- semester Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management diploma program.
  • The University of Victoria Division of Continuing Studies offers a post-graduate Cultural Resource Management diploma with specializations in museum studies, heritage conservation, and cultural management.
  • The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) in Ottawa offers 1-year paid post-graduate internships and unpaid curriculum internships.
Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

The Canadian Association of Professional Conservators (CAPC) offers voluntary professional accreditation. Accreditation may be required for certain employment opportunities.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Conservators work for:

  • Provincial and federal governments
  • Museums, art galleries, universities, archives, libraries, and historical societies
  • Research organizations
  • Heritage organizations and cultural centres
  • Other organizations whose mandate includes the preservation of cultural property

Many conservators work on a contract basis. They may have several projects or part-time jobs at the same time. For example, they may do research and conservation work for a museum and consulting work for a historical society as well as teach or write articles. Some conservators may be self-employed and work for private clients or public institutions and organizations.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5112: Conservators and curators occupational group, 82.5% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5112: Conservators and curators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 17, 2021

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Conservators and curators

2016 NOC: 5112
Average Wage
$45.40
Per Hour
Average Salary
$81,979.00
Per Year
Average Hours
34.6
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.9
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5112 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $21.00 $41.29 $35.84 $38.67
Overall $22.26 $54.40 $45.40 $47.48
Top $23.38 $54.40 $46.30 $50.69

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
0%
0%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
N/A
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
0%
0%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Alberta Museums Association website: www.museums.ab.ca

American Institute for Conservation (AIC) website: www.culturalheritage.org

Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property (CAC) website: www.cac-accr.ca

Canadian Association of Professional Conservators (CAPC) website: capc-acrp.ca

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) website: canada.ca/en/conservation-institute.html

Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) website: culturalhrc.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 17, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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