Top qualities every conservator needs to have

 

Do you have the qualities it takes to become a conservator? We were curious to learn what conservation companies are really looking for when they are hiring for their team. Are they really looking for the person who has the impressive certification resume, or is there something else? What are conservation companies really looking for in their candidates? We thoroughly read over current job openings at conservation companies from 10 different states. In this article we’ll share the most desirable qualities from hiring conservation studios with you and provide a few suggestions for how to improve in these areas.

8 qualities every art conservator needs to have

  1. Organized

  2. Independent worker

  3. Good communication

  4. Works well in a team

  5. Ability to meet deadlines

  6. Good multitasker

  7. Problem solver

  8. Follows instructions well

Being organized is the most required quality on job descriptions for conservation positions.

Being organized is the most required quality on job descriptions for conservation positions.

Why do these qualities matter?

Organized

Being organized is helpful for conservation in both a physical sense as well as a mental state of mind. Are you able to keep your workspace clean? Do you know where all your tools are? Do you put things back for others? Also we turn to ideas like, do you have a plan for your day? Are you able to manage all of your projects to get done on time? Do you know how much progress you’ve made and how much work you have left to do? Organizational skills are most crucial for staying on budget, working efficiently, and being respectful of everyone else involved on a project and in the company.

Independent worker

There will always be projects that are “yours”. You alone may be responsible for completing the conservation of a specific painting, artifact, or object. Companies are looking for candidates who are able to make appropriate decisions by themselves to get projects done. Even though you may be in a studio with 5-10 other conservators, you will not always be working together. What does it take to work alone? Confidence, well rounded industry knowledge, ability to conduct research well, and strategic thinking are all sub-qualities that help with working independently.

Communication

The spoken word is an art. Being able to express your questions, ideas, concerns, and praises is a highly sought after trait. Are you able to productively give criticism? Can you teach someone a new skill? How well can you write a condition or treatment report? Do you respond to emails in a respectful amount of time? Communication happens all day, every day, in many different forms and is highly valued for conservators.

Works well in a team

Can you handle having to divide up tasks between yourself and others? Can you provide helpful insight to processes? Are you trustworthy? Working in a team is not easy. There are many moving parts and can be a stressful task for many people. However, there are many projects that require all hands on deck and conservators need to be able to respectfully play their individual role within the team.

Ability to meet deadlines

Meeting deadlines is very important for the reputation of a company as a whole. No one wants to be known for always being late when finishing projects. This is a direct reflection of the company’s character. Employers want to know that the people they hire understand the value of keeping their clients happy. To meet deadlines requires someone to have good time management skills and the ability to stay focused under pressure.

Good multitasker

How often are you working on just one project? Rarely. You might be researching for 2 projects, treating 3 objects, and waiting for questions to be answered from clients for 2 other projects. Multitasking is an absolute must for conservators. 

Problem solver

Conservation is all about problem solving. Determining the best course of action for treating an artifact with the best materials in the most appropriate order for the most desired results. Problem solving includes researching proven products and methods and also being open to blazing new trails. Employers want candidates who are able to develop solutions for problems on their own with minimal supervision.

Follows instructions well

When you are working under a team leader, how do you respond to instruction? Do you do what you want to do anyway? Cut corners? Forget what you were told? When working on conservation projects, it is of utmost importance to follow instruction. If you don’t, you may create hours of extra work correcting your mistake and cause the company to lose money and get off schedule. Let’s not forget, potentially cause further damage to a priceless artifact.


How you can improve these qualities

Are you feeling a little rusty on any of these traits? No worries! Here are a few books to check out to learn more about some of these qualities:

If you need to get organized, check out some tools like Trello or Evernote. You can also look on an app store for hundreds of options for organizational apps. If you need to get better at working in a team, join a committee of a non-profit to practice how to work in groups. If you need to work on deadlines, practice in your daily life. Give yourself deadlines for your own personal tasks throughout your week and stick to them.

Good luck!

Curious about which skills employers are looking for? Read our post on the the skills every conservator needs to know.


A bit about our research: The job openings we used to research for this article were all found on public listings on Indeed. The job postings were all live during December 2018. The positions varied from Objects Conservator, Paper Conservation Technician, Paintings Conservator, Fine Arts Conservator, and more. We simply compared each job description and looked for commonalities between them and see which qualities were required the most. 

 
LearnHolly Tritt