Approximately 20% of our buildings, including people’s homes, shops, schools and hospitals, are built using historic methods. It is important that we use the same traditional skills and materials that helped to create these buildings when caring for them to maintain the historic environment in good condition so that we can continue to enjoy it for generations to come. If you enjoy practical and hands-on work, this area of the sector may appeal to you.
Traditional building craft skills are essentially those skills that were used to build historic buildings, such as stonemasonry, using lime and mortar, stained glass work, and even mosaics. Training in these skills means that our historic environment can be maintained and repaired with a combination of traditional skills and modern technology. There are lots of paid entry-level positions, such as traineeships and apprenticeships, in this area. This means that you can learn new skills while working.
Conservation skills are important for managing the effects of change on historic structures, places and objects, to ensure they can be preserved for the future. Conservation has its links to maintaining traditional buildings, but it can be applied to a much wider range of historic items. Conservators usually focus on a specific area of interest. This can include textiles, artwork, stonework, furniture, and even clocks!
Training as a conservator can take a little longer than other areas in heritage but gaining skills in caring for collections, working with historic items, or traditional buildings is a great place to start.
Example jobs include:
- Conservation officer
- Painting conservator
- Glass conservator
- Stone conservator
- Metal conservator
To learn more about the skills needed in conservation and how to start your career, you can read the resources available in the careers section at the Institute of Conservation.
To find careers advice on traditional building skills, visit the section in our website, the Engine Shed’s How to get involved with building conservation, or the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings’ website. The Institute of Historic Building Conservation also has a ‘self-starter’ kit for people looking to take the first step in their careers, with advice, training courses, and networking opportunities.
Check out the links below to find vacancies in conservation and traditional building skills:
Conservation roles are also a big part of the GLAM sector, so be sure to check the job listings in the GLAM section if you’re interested in museum and gallery-based conservation.