Internships are learning positions that allow interns to work directly with conservators. Internship tasks and objectives vary, but may include documentation and condition reporting, conducting surveys, conservation treatments, and housing of objects. Interns may be involved in decision-making and research. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and are often short-term or part-time.

Career Path: Internships can provide training for technician positions, allied professions, or graduate programs, and contribute toward preparation for professional conservation positions. Typically, an intern moves on to pursue further training or a paid position after gaining competence in the areas covered by the internship.

Find An Opportunity: Longer-term and paid internships are typically announced on the Conservation DistList or the Specialty Group listservs; however short term or volunteer positions are not always formally announced. Sometimes internships can be arranged by contacting a local conservation lab, or by becoming involved with a regional conservation organization. It is important to remember that training an intern requires a substantial time commitment on the part of the supervising conservator. Additionally, some institutions do not accept unpaid workers as a matter of policy. For these reasons, not all labs may be able to take on interns. Consult AIC's Find a Conservator tool to find conservators near you or Jobs, Internships, and Fellowships page to search for pre-program opportunities.

Technician Positions

Technicians are paid employees who perform a limited set of specialized tasks within a conservation lab. Typical duties for a technician include producing custom housings for objects and performing specific types of conservation treatments under the direction of a conservator. While there may be opportunities for training and development, technician positions are not specifically designed as educational opportunities, and can include repetitive work. Technicians often develop deep knowledge in one specialized area.

Career Path: Technician positions can provide an aspiring conservator with the pre-program experience required by many graduate programs, but many technicians choose to remain at the technician level for their entire career.

Find An Opportunity: Many libraries and museums have permanent conservation technician positions. Positions are posted on the Conservation DistList, and/or the website of the hiring institution. Occasionally, a past or present intern in a lab may be considered for a technician position, if one becomes open.

Undergraduate Programs in Conservation

While curricula and program structures vary, these degree programs may include coursework in conservation, as well as significant coursework in studio art, art history, and chemistry. Many programs also include one or more short-term internships.

Career Path: A bachelor’s degree in conservation provides an introduction to the ethics and principles of conservation but does not prepare you to become a professional conservator without additional graduate-level training.

Find An Opportunity: Link to list of undergraduate schools (coming soon)

New to the field?
Learn more about conservation from AIC’s Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN)